Last year we kicked off 2020 with a trip to Canada. It was my gift to Cody because I thought an experience would be better than material items for him. (Or for anyone !) Don’t let this post fool you. We had a blast. This was our first time seeing real snow and it was magical. It was also the first trip that I had ever planned alone, so we ran into a few extra bumps in the road that we normally wouldn’t run into.
Everyone has something they would change on every trip, but I have a few things that I would change on this trip that would have completed it and actually made it perfect.
My biggest regret would be that I didn’t rent a car. When booking the trip, I was nervous about renting a car because I didn’t think Cody and I would be able to drive safely in the snow. Since we didn’t rent a car, we ran into a few problems and spent more money than we really needed to. First, we spent nearly $200 on our cab ride from the air port to our condo. (just the ride there not back and no stops and that isn’t our total for the week.) We also paid for multiple other cab rides to bus stops because our condo was not near any of the bus stops. Luckily the bus stops were free, but we did have to base our entire schedule on the bus route. If we ran late or slept in one morning, our day wasn’t starting until 2 or 3 and we also had to leave Banff earlier than we would have liked sometimes because of the bus. (If the last bus left without us, we had no way back to the condo.) Overall, it was extremely inconvenient and I am sure that we would have saved time and money if we had just rented our own vehicle.
Another major thing that I would have changed about this trip is the amount of time that I spent saving and planning for this trip. It was more of a spur of the moment idea to get Cody a trip for Christmas. I came up with it right around Thanksgiving with a little under 1 month to save before I bought the plane tickets and just 3 weeks to save after…. and I was determined to pay for it myself …. with my barista pay check. Needless to say, this trip was a budget centered trip. I got us good plane tickets (because I will never ride on a crappy plane again.) and I got us a good Airbnb, but if I had saved a little longer, I would have been able to afford a condo or Airbnb closer to Banff … or a bus stop and maybe a few more excursions or date nights.
This was also a problem that effected our food and activities. Because we had a set amount of money to spend on this trip, we had to plan only 3 meals that we could eat out and we had to cook or eat left overs the other nights. We also obviously missed out of some fun opportunities and activities because we had to budget so much.
So, money is a must for a trip like this. Go ahead and price the things you are wanting to do so that you know what you need to save to have the experience you are dreaming of.
I also would have changed the time of year we went there. (Just by a few weeks) We loved the snow, but it just so happens that the specific week we booked our trip was the coldest week in Alberta that year. The temperature when we arrived (I am not even lying) was -29 degrees Fahrenheit. Locals told us that we were crazy and assured us that it normally does not get that cold there. We still had fun, but you can bet I was bundled it at least 4 layers at all times. Because the weather was so cold, the condo hot tub couldn’t even remain open. (this was the whole reason I had booked this specific place.) This issue also caused us to have a delayed (almost canceled) flight.
Two days before our departure, we got an email saying that our flight had potential to be canceled and we would be updated. We panicked slightly, but tried not to let it ruin our trip. Our flight didn’t end up getting canceled, but it was delayed to a point that we nearly missed our connecting flight and would have had to spend the night in the Chicago airport. (You better just suck it up and get the flight insurance so you don’t have to worry like we did.)
Finally, I would have better planned for the unknown. We had a few financial hiccups that we were not expecting on this trip. (luckily our family and friends had our backs) Just make sure you have extra money set aside that you are not planning to spend on the trip that way if something crazy happens… because you really never know… you will be 1000% prepared and it won’t even faze your trip.
I am sure there are more mistakes that I made that would have made our trip easier if I had just changed one little thing. That’s not the point, though. You learn as you go. We still made so many fun memories, met some good people, and now we can say we have been to Canada. Life is what you make it… and I am just here to let you learn from my mistakes. Go adventure. Go explore. Visit a new place. Have fun. Focus on the good things and where you are, not what you didn’t do or what you could have done. Life is way too short to make it into a pity party!
Check out my blog post with ALL of the details from our trip to Canada as well as other similar posts like this one!