Road-tripping across Alaska makes for an epic vacation—and that “epic” factor just goes up when you do your trip in a classic VW bus from this Anchorage-based operator. Outfitted with many of the home-on-wheels comforts of a traditional RV, these rentals offer a nimble way to road trip—with the bonus that pretty much everyone you see waves and smiles when they see your cool ride.
Living the Good #VanLife
Indeed, not everyone wants the size of an RV for their roadtrip. VW buses are smaller, but Trickster Trips’ models come with beds and often small kitchens—so this feels nicely like a hybrid of RVing and camping, in an intimate space that still never feels cramped. It even comes with its own instant-style tent: Each of these buses has a canvas pop-top on them that unzips like a half-dome and holds one of the beds, which sleeps two people. When you lay in this birds-eye-view bed, you can look out to watch the sunset or sunrise. Combined with the bed in the vehicle, each bus can sleep up to 4. (There are no onboard bathrooms—or any of the chores that come with having one—but pretty much any campground where you’d park has bathrooms.)
Each van comes with linens (sheets, down blankets, pillows), dishes, pots and pans, and basics like salt and pepper, spices, and copies of Milepost and Alaska Magazine. You can add on niceties such as hammocks, camp chairs, car seats, towels, a cooler, a tent, or a solar shower. You can even have the van stocked with groceries: Just give owner Mandy a list. And three of the four buses have hook-ups for an RV park/campground, if you want to connect to power.
Just choose the bus that feels right to you—each has its own personality (and name):
The original member of the fleet is a stick-shift 1986 bus with two beds, full stove and sink, fridge, and an auxiliary battery with AC/DC converter, so you can plug anything in. There’s a solar panel on top, which charges the battery under the midnight sun. Its radio looks like an old-style VW model, but it has a Bluetooth.
Named after Polychrome Pass in Denali, Polly is a 1986 stick-shift Synchro, with two beds, a two burner stove, sink, fridge, and Bluetooth radio. Poly is 4-wheel drive, and handles great in all weather. It has powerful round South African headlights, some great Audi breaks, and a propane heater: if you go fall camping, that heater kicks on whenever the temperature dips below your chosen point on the thermostat.
Named after Mt. Susitna, which is often covered in snow, Sue is a white, 1991 automatic-transmission Weekender. The top pops and the bench seat folds down, so it has two beds and extra seats. It doesn’t have a fridge, sink, or stove— but that’s easily remedied by bringing a cooler and a camp stove to use outside. Because it can fit more people, it’s great if you’re bringing kids or more gear.
Clark is the newest member of the Trickster Trips fleet. And, he's the only "male". He's blue, burly, and strong and is named after Lake Clark National Park. This 1988 Westy has a full kitchen set up and a full kitchen with a manual transmission.
Inspired by Portugal, Imported from Cape Cod
Owner and Alaska native Mandy had always thought VW buses were cool, but when she went on vacation to Portugal, she rented a 1979 model (nicknamed Saffron) and she really fell in love with them. She decided that VW rentals would be a great fit in her home state of Alaska; she was an avid backpacker, so RVs had always felt like “cheating” to her—but a VW bus felt like the perfect in-between. When she moved back to Alaska, she started the business with Goldy, the 1986 Westfalia she bought in Cape Cod and drove back to Alaska. She named the company Trickster Trips after the “Trickster” raven from Tlingit culture: the bird from native folklore is a bit of a shape-shifter, and a VW bus is similar: a great utilitarian vehicle that morphs into a charming home on wheels.
If you rent during the summer—June, July, or August—there’s a one-week minimum for a rental, but during the rest of the year, you can just rent it by the night. Like most rentals in Alaska, you need to be at least 26 years old and must stick to paved roads on your trip (so no Denali Highway or McCarthy Road). But that still leaves a huge number of options—after all, this is Alaska. The bus itself—and the #vanlife feelings people say it gives to their journey—just add to your experience.