There is so much to say about this incredible trip..I never thought I would be brave enough, or strong enough, or free spirited enough to go on a solo trip but I am so glad I did. The whole time I was there I was constantly saying “I regret nothing” and that is the truest statement.
Back in December my boss sat me down and asked me what my goals were for 2019, not only my goals at work but my personal goals. I thought about it for a while and then I wrote them down and pinned them on a board by my bed. I told myself when I hit certain goals at work I would reward myself with a personal goal. Fast forward from December to February 28th, the first goal was hit and I immediately and I literally mean immediately booked my plane ticket to Banff. A few days later I booked a hostel, a few weeks later my Airbnb and another two months after that I reserved my rental car. Fast forward to June 6th and I was leaving DFW.
Flights- Round trip ticket from Dallas to Calgary with one stop in Vancouver and back the same way. The layover in Vancouver was less than two hours and the transition from getting off the first plane to getting on the second plane was super easy. Customs in Canada was a complete breeze but because of that they did not stamp my passport..sad day.
Air Canada $436.01
Board- I stayed in the tiniest room really close to the airport the first and last night of my trip..literally two miles from the airport, I don’t think it can get any closer than that??? You can find it here -> Airbnb .. Once I got to Banff I stayed in a wilderness hostel which luckily had electricity and water! The location was ideal because it was between Banff & Lake Louise. You can find the hostel here –> https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/HI-Castle-Mountain/Banff/31488?dateFrom=2019-08-24&dateTo=2019-08-25&number_of_guests=2&so=1
Rental Car- This is where I spent the majority of my money partially because I was born in 1995 so I’m not 25 yet and I’m a goof and said yes to the insurance which unfortunately more than doubled my cost. $25 a day for young drivers and $29 a day for insurance..**eye roll**. The car itself was however very affordable! $32 a day! So all in all it was expensive. I ordered off the kayak app which led me to Alamo Rentals. I would for sure rent the car again, it is the only way to get around…without a car my trip would have been less awesome..but I won’t get insurance again and I will also wait until I’m 25.
Flight from Dallas to Vancouver. Shoutout to my roomie for dropping me off at the airport. Anyways, the flight from DFW to YVR was pretty smooth. I read my whole book Then She Was Gone the plane was a little smaller than I would have liked so my biggest tip is to take a neck pillow! Once landing in Vancouver I was directed towards customs and to my next gate. This airport is where I exchanged my cash. I exchanged $150 and there was only a $5 fee. It was super easy and quick!! The flight from Vancouver to Calgary was less than an hour and the plane was very spacious! Once landing in Calgary and I made my way to my car, it took around 10 minutes to do the paperwork and another 5 to get in my car. I then drove to my tiny Airbnb , brushed my teeth, set my alarm and fell asleep.
My first alarm went off at 7:00 and I stayed in bed until alarm number two went off at 7:30. I hopped in the shower, packed up my bag, texted the important people in my life and went on my way to find coffee. Of course I did the most Canadian thing I could think of…which is go to Tim Hortons..where I ordered a Double Double with mocha flavoring. I really think I put it above Dunkin Donuts..which is saying a lot. The drive from Calgary is very quick, less than two hours and a really pretty drive. I enjoyed it the most because it SNOWED. The snowflakes were larger than any snowflakes I have ever seen in my life! Before going to my hostel I drove to Lake Minnewanka, everyone said this is a smaller beauty you don’t want to miss and they weren’t lying. I hiked for about 3 hours with a guy I met from Toronto. (He was going to live in his car for 3 weeks to see if he wanted to move to Banff.) The water was crystal clear with the prettiest blue tint. The snow flakes falling were captivating.
Once I left the lake and got back on the hwy I saw several cars pulled over with their hazards on, so me, being the tourist I am, pulled over and put my flashers on. AND I am SO glad I did! There was a grizzly snacking! This was my only bear sighting and I am not upset about that!
Once I finally made it to the hostel I met two girls from Montreal. They were going to work in Banff for the summer so they could adventure all summer long, I was a little envious of them. They didn’t have a vehicle so we decided we would stick together. Our first adventure was a small hike from the hostel and it lead to a waterfall, Silverton Falls. The falls were gorgeous and so close by. After that hike the girls ate dinner, I chatted with a guy from Arizona (he’s hiked the Yosemite 9 times!!!) and then I showered and went to bed.
My alarm clock went off at 5:30. I knew I wanted to get to Moraine Lake at sunrise so I could beat the crowds..little did I know it was already daylight at 5:30. Anyways, I made myself a cup of coffee and enjoyed the view before getting ready.
After my cup of coffee I brushed my teeth and woke the girls up. We were on the road by 6:15! I am so glad we made it to Moraine Lake when we did, we were able to find parking and we beat the crowds. The view was so breath taking. The pictures do not even begin to do it justice.
The fog did not take away from any of the beauty. I think it just made the view that much more magical! Also, can you see how clear that water is??
After leaving Moraine Lake we made our way to Lake Louise. Which if you have enough time and the snow is melted more you should take a full day to do each. We didn’t hike any at Moraine Lake because of the snow. Anyways, Lake Louise..just wow!!
(I will go back but the next time will be in July so it’s a little warmer, and I will take someone I love that way I can explore the canoe on Lake Louise with someone I love. )
Once we made it to Lake Louise we drooled at the sight of the water and then decided to start the hike. There is a hike at Lake Louise that leads to a cute tea house that everyone says you have to see. The Tea House has a lot of history and their drinks are made from fresh water. It was a hard hike, 3.8 Kilometers all up hill but totally worth it. Once I made it to the top I had a sandwich/soup combo with a cup of hot chocolate. I enjoyed my lunch with a beautiful view.
The hike back down was much quicker but the ice going down hill was very slippery. This was the view while hiking
After the hike we made our way back to the hostel were the best naps were taking and the rain came down at that point. After the rain I made my way into Banff for dinner at the Banff Brewery where I had a locally brewed beer and a elk & bison sausage sandwich. It was a great legit meal. (I didn’t have many of those) After dinner we sat around a camp fire and chatted for a little bit and then I decided it was time for bed.
I woke up on my own time, which was still before 8. I got out of bed, packed my bags and loaded up my car. I was ready for my last Banff adventure. Johnston Canyon. I knew I needed to get there early because it also gets really packed. I also knew I needed to see the Lower Falls and Upper Falls. So on my hike I went. On this hike I really felt like I was one with nature, as cheesy as that sounds. I literally could have cried because nature is so AMAZING. The water was just flowing and rushing and I am so obsessed. The hike to lower falls was super easy and pretty much all flat. You get to walk through a little cave to see the waterfall and it is super cool. From there I made my way to the Upper Falls which was sill super lax compared to the hike the day before.
After I took this picture I asked this sweet older couple if they wanted me to take a picture of them and then we got to chatting. They were from Boston and super kind.
After hiking back down I decided to get brunch at the café at the canyon and the food was great and I once again had the best view with my meal.
After the Canyon I decided I would make the trek back to Calgary. I wanted to enjoy the trip and get some rest so I could prepare for my early flight back to Texas.
Calgary also has a trail around a river that is super pretty.
My alarm went off at 3:45.. I brushed my teeth, packed my bags, loaded up the rental car and headed to the airport where I dropped my car off, went through customs and awaited the arrival of my plane. The flights back to Texas were the same as the flight from Canada. Just this time I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? .
All in all the trip was a dream come true! I walked close to 30 miles on my trip, saw the prettiest waters and just really got to explore nature. I want to see the world and this was the ideal spot to travel solo for the first time. I never once felt nervous or alarmed. I felt so free and alive and I came back feeling so recharged. I spent around $1000 all together and it was worth double than that. I would have loved to have had more time but that just means I will be going again..but in July. I also would suggest hiking shoes, had I wanted to hike any more than I did my running shoes probably would have given out on me.
All of my photos were taken with an iPhone 8 and a polaroid camera.
If you have any more questions about the trip just let me know