Lessons Learned From Our Trip to Banff

Friday, November 09, 2018

Lessons Learned from Our Trip to Banff | Tips for a Trip to Banff  | A Memory of Us | Helpful tips to know for Banff | Vacation to Banff

A little over two months ago, I shared our Itinerary for Our Trip to Banff and Jasper. Our trip to Banff was one of my all time favorite trips. (It's between that and our One Year Anniversary Trip to London.) Despite it being one of the best trips we've ever taken, we still had some lessons learned from our trip. If we were going back, there are a few things we would do differently. I thought I would share them here so that if you were planning a trip one day, you could learn from our mistakes! As always, if you have any questions please leave a comment or send me an email and I'll do my best to help!

AirBNB in Banff | Lodging options in  Banff | Where to stay in Banff | Lessons Learned from our Trip To Banff | A Memory of Us
||our AirBnB in Banff||

1. Book Your Lodging Early - Tyler and I went to Banff in July 2018. We booked all of our lodging in December 2017. We thought over 6 months out was plenty of time, but we actually had few choices in our price range booking at that time! We were looking to spend around $150 a night for lodging. If that is your budget and you are planning a trip for next summer... book your lodging now!! We stayed in AirBnBs the whole time and had a great experience. If you've never used Airbnb before, you can sign up under my link to save $40! (Note - I do receive a credit if you book under my link.) If you are willing to spend more than $150 a night, you will have plenty of options for lodging still available if you book closer to your trip. however, if you're on a budget like we were... I'd recommend booking far in advance if your trip is during busy season!

Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail | Pictures to Get at Moraine Lake | Moraine Lake Parking | Shuttle to Moraine Lake | Moraine Lake Overflow Lot | A Memory of Us| Tips for Banff | Lessons Learned from our Trip to Banff|

||Mind Over Mat Capri Black Leggings | Stripe Mesh High Neck Tank (same design with a different back opening) | Suryana Strappy Sports Bra | similar hiking shoes Adidas Sueprlite Cap||

2. Parking at Lake Louise/ Moraine Lake is a Mess - With the rising popularity of Banff, it is getting harder and harder to park at the actual lakes of Lake Louise and  Moraine Lake. I have heard that even if you get there by 7 AM you might not have a spot. (Someone who we met while we were there said they tried to park at 8 and there were no spots left!) However, there is an overflow lot clearly marked on your route to the lakes. When we were there, it was $15 per person for round trip bus transfers from the lots to the lakes. We did have to wait in line for ~20 minutes until we could get on the bus. The buses worked fine but they don't run all night so your time at the lakes is cut short if you have to take a shuttle back to your parking spot.

Lake Louise Big Beehive | Lessons Learned from our Trip to Banff | Shuttle to Lake Louise | Parking for Lake Louise | Tips for a trip to Banff | What to Know before you go to Banff | A Memory of Us

||Adidas Superlite Cap | similar hiking shoes Terex Star-Print Racerback Tank Top | similar sports bra | similar Mid Rise Leggings in Black||

3. Free Parking at Lake Louise Gondola - We took the shuttle to Moraine Lake on our first day. The day we went to Lake Louise we parked at the Lake Louise Gondola and were able to be shuttled between the Lake and the Gondola for free! (We just paid a tip to thank them for the free ride!) This was so seamless and there was really no line at all. Super handy and cheap!! I would definitely go this route for overflow parking if needed. More information can be found here. The shuttles don't run all day, so you still have to account for that, but it is a great option to have.

how long of a drive to lake louise | drive from banff to lake louise | what to know for a trip to lake louise | lake louise tips | a memory of us | banff itinerary

4. It is a 45 Minute Drive to Lake Louise - When we were planning our trip, a 45 minute drive to Lake Louise didn't seem that bad. (Moraine Lake is even further.) However, due to the shuttles, you can't stay at Lake Louise all day unless you get there early enough for parking at the lake. I really wish we had been able to go hiking all day at Lake Louise, watch the sunset, and then stay for dinner at Chateau Lake Louise.  This really wasn't an option with the shuttle/parking situation. Also, we would have wanted to shower/get ready for dinner and it wasn't worth all the drive time to head back to our AirBNB in Banff to do so. If I could redo our trip, I would have splurged for a day at Chateau Lake Louise. That way, you could park at the Gondola for free in the morning. After hiking (and once you can check into the hotel), take the shuttle to pick up your car and drive back to the hotel. From there you can check in, shower, go out to eat, and have the night to explore the lake more. The next day you are there bright and early to hike again! The Chateau Lake Louise is pricey but for the time you would get to spend at the lake, I think it would be worth it! You could also see if they have any less expensive options elsewhere at the lake.

what to do in Calgary | Banff trip | Itinerary to Banff | Lessons Learned from our trip to Banff | A Memory of Us|

|| similar camo v-neck tee | white cami ||

5. Explore Calgary at the End of Your Trip - I mentioned this in my full itinerary of Banff post, but Tyler and I originally planned to explore Calgary on the first day of our trip. However, once we there, all we wanted to do was get to the mountains! Due to that, we didn't really enjoy our first day in Calgary. We ended our trip in Calgary, and the night we were there we had so much fun walking around the city and exploring what it had to offer! My recommendation would be that if you want to have some time in Calgary to allocate time for it at the end of your trip. When you first get there, you will be itching to get straight to the lakes (at least if you're like us you will be!), so save the city exploring for your last day there.

Hiking in Jasper | Tips for Your Trip to Banff | Banff Itinerary | What to Know Before you go to Banff  | lessons learned from our trip banff | a memory of us

|| similar hiking shoes | Insulated Hydration Backpack | similar leggings | similar packable rain jacket ||

6. Break in Your Hiking Shoes - Hopefully this is an obvious one, but if you buy new hiking shoes for the trip make sure you break them in prior to your trip! Mine were from Eddie Bauer, and these look to be most similar to the ones I wore. Tyler and I starting wearing our hiking shoes a few months before the trip on our nightly neighborhood walks and it definitely helped to have them ready to go at the time of our trip!

tips for your trip to Banff | What to Pack for banff | A memory of us | Lessons Learned from our trip to Banff | What to Know About Banff Before You Go

||similar hiking shoes | Insulated Hydration Backpack |  similar packable rain jacket | similar Mid Rise Leggings in Black||

7.  Pack a Bear Bell - The research on if wearing a bear bell actually keeps bears away from you is inconclusive (source), but I wore one for our whole trip and we never saw any bears while hiking so I'd say it worked haha. I know some people really want to see bears while hiking but that was not something I was looking for. Our first day there, other hikers had one and it made me want to get one. The shops in town all mark up their prices like crazy for them (seriously one place had it listed for $15).  We were eventually able to find one cheaper, but it was still overpriced. If this is something that interests you, save your money and buy one ahead of time. This one is just over $3! (Also buy your bear spray somewhere that you can return it if you don't use it! We were able to get $10 back if we returned ours, which was better than nothing!)

Couple Pictures at Peyto lake | What to Pack for Banff | Banff Travel Tips | Lessons Learned from Our Trip to banff | A Memory of us Blog | What to know before you go to Banff

||similar hiking shoes | similar leggings with stripes down side | similar mesh workout tank | similar coral sports bra | Tyler's Under Armour Tee | similar shorts to Tyler's | Tyler's hiking shoes | Tyler's hat purchased at Chateau Lake Louise ||

8. Pack a hydration pack - A hydration backpack is a must for your packing list! This one is the one I packed. It worked great! I had no issues with leakage and it kept my water cool all day. It also had a small zipper section where I was able to carry a rain coat, snacks, my phone, etc. Tyler actually liked mine more than his because his did not have room to carry anything else. (This is the one he had.) Tyler's did work great, so if you want something smaller his would be a good option. It was just really handy to be able to store some extra items in mine!

Welcome to Jasper Sign Picture | Tips for  Trip to Banff | What to Know about Banff | A Memory of Us Blog | Lessons Learned from Our Trip to banff

|| Tyler's hiking shoes | Tyler's workout tee | similar shorts to Tyler's||

9. You're going to spend some time in the car - Your trip to Banff is going to require quite a bit of time in the car. To start, you'll have to drive from Calgary to Banff (~78 miles one way).  If you stay in Banff you'll have to drive to Lake Louise (~31 miles one way), Peyto Lake (~62 miles one way), etc. Be prepared for lots of car time while you are there! I would also recommend having Spotify (or some music) on your phone since as soon as you're out of the cities the radio cuts in and out on the car.

Renting a Canoe at Maligne Lake | Banff Travel Tips | Jasper Travel Tips | What to Know About a Trip to Banff | Lessons Learned from Our Trip to banff | Banff Travel Tips | A Memory of Us Blog

|| Under Armour Long Sleeve Tee ||

10. Buy the Lonely Planet Banff Guide - Honestly, this book was so helpful in planning our trip. It was also really nice to take with us while driving/hiking places where we didn't have wifi to be able to reference blog posts for tips! 10/10 would recommend you bring it along for your trip just for that reason alone.

travel tips for your trip to banff | what to know about banff before you go | a memory of us blog | lessons learned from our trip to banff | banff national park vacation

|| Kate Spade Say Yes "Mrs" Necklace | Express Minus the Leather Jacket Rebecca Minkoff Red Floral Wendy Dress | similar shirt to Tyler's plaid shirt ||

I hope these tips help you plan a trip to Banff! If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email!

You Might Also Like

3 thoughts

  1. What a gorgeous place to explore! Those views are incredible. I love your cute hiking outfits and great tips for planning a trip to Banff. I've never stayed in an Air BnB but that seems the way to go for certain destinations like this one plus the $150 range is the budget we usually aim for. Emily @ Martinis & Bikinis

    1. Thank you!! You'll have to try it out sometime -- we love it!

  2. Awesome guide Darcy. Your heading picture is amazing - that colour blue is unreal!!


Please note that if you choose to comment with your Google Account your name and email will be stored.