Traveling to Banff: My First Solo Trip Abroad
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Traveling to Canada was quite an adventure. I've been craving to explore a remarkable place, in hopes to find solitude along the way and rediscover why I started roaming in the first place. I knew a solo trip would do just the trick. So, I'm excited to say I was able to do those things, all thanks to the best travel companion, the Expedia app. From searching for the best hotel rates, getting helpful reminders right when you need them to finding fun things to do, Expedia made it possible for me to enjoy every single moment of my very first solo trip abroad.
Here's a recap of my latest 4-day adventure in Banff with me, myself, and I.
Day 1 - Driving from Calgary to Banff
What prompted me to go to Banff, a resort town in Alberta, Canada, is for the chance to lay eyes on the Aurora Borealis. Little did I know Banff isn't the best place to catch the Northern lights. Oops! I did have the most epic time wandering in the impressive Canadian Rockies.
Immediately after landing, my digital travel companion notified me that my rental car and my hotel room was ready. Having all of my itineraries in one place was quite convenient.
Quick tip: Get a rental car when visiting Banff. You won’t regret it.
Driving from Calgary to Banff was an easy and beautiful 90-minute drive. I had no issues finding my new home for the next few days. I was so stoked to have booked a reservation at Elk + Avenue Hotel. Everything looked brand new, plus the location was just perfect. There were several restaurants and bars to check out, plus a grocery store nearby.
Day 2 - Exploring Banff, Lake Minewanka, Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake
Waking up in a new place while on vacation is always a great feeling. Waking up alone while on vacation was refreshing. I had the freedom to go on my own time and at my own terms. So, to kick off my day, I ventured off to Lake Minewanka and Peyto Lake.
My first stop was Lake Minewanka, the second longest lake in the mountain parks of the Canadian Rockies. It looked like an excellent place for canoeing, fishing, biking, and hiking.
A few hours later, I began another 90-minute journey, and it was nothing but a breeze. I stumbled upon Bow Lake on my way to Peyto Lake. With its fascinating turquoise blue water and incredible landscape, I knew I made the right choice to stop.
Peyto Lake took it up a notch and stunned me with its marvelous wolf-shape lake and icefield. Looking into the horizon of this glacier-fed lake gave me a sense of welcomeness. It felt as if there was nowhere else I'm supposed to be, but right there at that very moment.
Peyto Lake is also where I first learned how to shoot content on my own. Some may laugh, but I couldn't figure out how to get my tripod to stand. A stranger saw that I was struggling, so he happily adjusted it for me. DUH! It has three adjustable legs.
After an amazing day, I decided to explore the town of Banff and have dinner at one of the restaurants near my hotel, Earl's Kitchen + Bar.
Dining or driving alone at an unfamiliar place is the ultimate test for travelers. These are the times to find out whether solo traveling is for you or not. Personally, it changed my perspective and taught me how to be happy again in my own company. It's definitely right for me.
Quick Tip: Did you know Expedia's Solo Travel Report shows more than 60% of travelers will take a solo trip in the next year? To help newbies (like me) or pros, Expedia put together a complete list of all the things you'll need. From vacation spot ideas to useful planning tips, the Solo Travel Report can tick all the boxes for your next adventure.
Day 3 - Touristing in Banff National Park and Yoho National Park
Finding things to do in Banff is far from challenging. There are countless mountains to climb, lakes to check out and attractions to experience. While I was planning my trip, I knew I wanted to see the best things Banff has to offer. I booked a full-day tour with Brewster Sightseeing on the Expedia app just days before my trip.
The first stop was Lake Louise. It was yet again another cold and foggy day in Banff. Luckily, it cleared up and the famous castle hotel, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, presented itself right between the clouds.
Then off to our next destination, Moraine Lake. Hiking up to the lake made me feel like I was walking into a real life-size postcard. The magnificent turquoise water and stunning snow-capped mountains, rising high among the clouds left me in awe. Even though the place was swarming with people, I found myself in a quiet paradise. That or everyone else, like me, was speechless.
Some of the other sights I saw during the tour were Emerald Lake, Kicking Horse River, Takakkaw Falls, and the Spiral Tunnels.
Day 4 - Catching the sunrise at Moraine Lake and Hiking at Johnston Canyon
Making every moment has always been a mantra I live by when traveling. When my last day in Banff came, I decided to drive back to Moraine Lake to capture a striking photo of the sunrise. As I waited and observed my surroundings, I realized what sparked my interest in traveling in the first place: having the freedom to experience and capture moments like these. And so again, I've built up a great case of the 'Travel Bug.' It's not very hard to find joy in roaming alone in one of the most dazzling places in the world.
Even though the sun barely graced the mountain or had any shot of snapping a perfect sun streak photo, I still had this rush of happiness as if I won the lottery. Instead of capturing that gram, I was able to bring out my young, free-spirited self, who inspired me to traverse the globe whenever and wherever I can.
Quick tip: If you want to avoid the massive crowd at Moraine Lake, be sure to arrive around 4 to 5 am. The parking lot was already full by the time I arrived at 5:45 am.
With very little energy left, I headed off to Johnston Canyon to conclude my trip. I hiked to two out of the three significant falls: Lower Falls and Upper Falls, which only took two hours. Immersing myself in the forest has brought me to the present state of being. I spent the whole time observing the natural beauties of the world, all while practicing my long lost passion for photography.
On the way back to my car, Expedia reminded me to check-in for my flight. I seriously loved all the reminders from the app because I forgot to check-in! So, I headed off to Calgary Airport and said "See you later" to Canada, knowing it won't be the last. I flew back home with the feeling of "I can do anything and go anywhere I want" mindset, all thanks to this solo trip. Pursuing my passion and creating a purposeful life seemed more in the realm of possibility.
Ready to plan your very own solo adventure? Download The Expedia App, the ultimate travel companion to save money on hotels, discover amazing attractions, and my favorite - get trip reminders. Use the following code SOLOTRAVEL to get 10% off.