Budgeting for Banff

Here’s the breakdown for our week long trip to help you in planning and budgeting for Banff.

Airfare: $354USD per person

  • We flew WestJet from IAH (Houston) to YYC (Calgary)
  • We booked directly through WestJet’s website, so they charged us in CAD. I based the price above off of what we were charged in USD on our banking statements since the exchange rate fluctuates every day. At the time of booking (August 2016), the tickets were $404.58CAD and we were charged approximately $354USD. As of the time I am writing this post (September 2017) that exchanges to approximately $325USD. Not a drastic change, but worth noting.
  • Checked luggage was an extra fee, we paid $38USD per checked bag

Lodging: $445USD for 7 nights

  • Two nights at a Calgary Airbnb – $74
  • Five nights at a Canmore Airbnb – $371

Car Rental: $274USD

  • We rented a Volkswagen GTI through Avis, picked up and dropped off at the Calgary Airport.

Food: Approximately $35USD per person per day (but also depends on your “food philosophy”)

It’s always hard to get a number for this one because it’s so dependent on your food philosophy. Some of you will opt for more fast food, and others for finer cuisine. We opted for a mix of both.

We fell in love with Tim Hortons and went there every morning for breakfast. For the two of us it averaged around $8USD for breakfast. Most of our meals averaged $30-40USD for the two of us, and these were pretty nice meals at decently “fancy” restaurants. One of the more expensive restaurant meals we had was at the Grizzly Paw in Canmore. We spent $60USD but that got us an appetizer of poutine, two beer flights (Matt and I have extremely different taste in beer),  an elk burger (for Matthew), and a hippie biscuit AKA vegan burger (for me). That was a treat yoself night because we were celebrating the New Year. The rest of the time we ate pretty normally and spent less.

There are fast food options for when you need something cheap and/or fast. Or even if you just want to check out the local McDonalds cuisine. We tried the McPoutine and it was… interesting. 100% do not regret, 100% would not try again.

Activities:

How much you spend on activities will also greatly vary depending on your must-sees and whether you’re planning on skiing/snowboarding or not. I will mostly speak on experience of what we did specifically, and you can view our trip itinerary here.

Skiing/Snowboarding:

  • Rentals: $178USD total (covered skis/boots/poles/helmet for Matt, and snowboard/boots/helmet for me)
  • SkiBig3 Pass: $293CAD for a 3 day adult lift ticket (valid for unlimited skiing at Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, and Mt Norquay)

Other Activities:

  • Admission to Banff National Park: The town of Banff and pretty much everything you’ll want to do and see, even the ski resorts, are in the National Park. Which means that you’ll need a park pass. Luckily, you’ll pass through an entrance station where you’ll be prompted to purchase one before you officially enter the park. But the prices are pretty steep if you plan on making a week long trip out of it. For one person it costs about $10CAD per day, and for two or more it’s about $20CAD per day. Definitely factor this in when you’re budgeting for your trip because it’s a sizeable chunk of change. If you’re visiting 2017, these fees will be waived. If not, check with your hotel or Airbnb to see if they offer anything for a discounted price! Our Airbnb hosts rented out a pass for about half the price for the duration of our stay.

  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site: During 2017, all national parks and historic sites have free admission in Canada to celebrate their sesquicentennial! We visited on New Year’s Eve (or maybe the day before) so we had to pay something like $5CAD each for entry.
  • Ice skating at Lake Minnewanka and Lake Louise: All you have to pay for are the ice skate rentals! We rented ours in town for about $14CAD per pair.
  • Snowshoeing around Lake Louise: We rented the snowshoes for about $14CAD per pair.

Hopefully this helps y’all with trip planning! Happy wanderlusting, friends!

4 Comments

  • Crazy Travelista

    Great guide. I’m always so overwhelmed when trying to plan to visit Banff that I usually give up haha. This is very helpful! DO you have the links to the Airbnbs you stayed at?

    October 28, 2017 at 10:16 am Reply
    • aroundtheworldinkatydays

      I do! Here’s the link for the Airbnb we stayed at in Calgary, which we absolutely loved: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1171544
      And here’s where we stayed in Canmore: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13998897

      We weren’t as crazy about the Canmore Airbnb, the family who lives upstairs is ROWDY. So beware of the noise if you choose to stay there!

      October 28, 2017 at 4:25 pm Reply
  • Alex

    Hey !

    Just curious if you happened to see the Northern Lights when you where in Canada? I would like to see the Aurora Borealis for our two year weeding anniversary so I checking into all locations and destinations. Any thoughts would be great!

    April 15, 2018 at 8:07 pm Reply
    • aroundtheworldinkatydays

      Hi Alex, we did not see them during our visit. Apparently Banff is considered to be a little too far south to have good visibility, and during the winter there are few cloudless and clear nights.

      April 15, 2018 at 9:42 pm Reply

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