Packing the Suitcase for Banff

Packing the Suitcase for Banff
Banff National Park Our Jewel in the Crown

Before You Go

Canadians have every right to brag about Banff National Park, Banff, and Banff Springs Hotel as they represent the quintessential standard for a five-star destination. Nestled into the Canadian Rockies, in a World UNESCO designated park (founded in 1885 ), Banff will leave visitors breathless and not just because of the 4500 ft altitude.

The scenic views are a feast for the senses. Rivers meander or gush through gorges, lakes shimmer in aquamarine tones thought only possible in Pantone swatches and are a photo op. Snow-capped mountain peaks reach the heavens, and icy glaciers crawl along the spine of mountains created from a continental crust over a billion years ago and are a truly magnificent sight to behold.

Regardless of how many visits a person makes to Banff, the view is always inspirational and also humbling. One of the least spoken of attributes about Banff is that there is virtually something for everyone, and one article alone cannot delve into all the activities and sights to explore.

Voted as a top 21 world destination by National Geographic travel editors, Banff will not disappoint. But like all adventures and vacations, it pays to research the destination. Before you book a trip and pack, consider these helpful hints from other travelers to make your trip even more memorable.

Although depicted as a gorgeous destination in pictures on the web, in the mountain country, the elements around you can change drastically and quickly. The idiom, 'if you don't like the weather … wait ten minutes', applies. Therefore it is best to dress in layers and consider investing in garments that have a wicking effect and move moisture away from the skin. A warm fleece sweater and a light, weather-resistant jacket with a hood is an excellent investment to bring along if you plan on exploring any of the outdoor activities. A refillable water bottle is a must, and a portable cooler for sandwiches for a picnic lunch is ideal if you plan on exploring away from the Banff townsite. Hiking at higher altitudes will zap your energy, and it is wise to stay hydrated even in colder temperatures. Please do not feed animals and remove all of your belongings and store your trash in the animal-safe receptacles provided.

Another great suggestion from experienced travelers is to bring insect repellent, a dab of sunscreen, sunglasses, and even lip balm, a hat, and gloves go along way, especially if you go on a glacier expedition. A walking stick will make hiking more manageable, and it is crucial to wear sturdy and comfortable shoes. (Save your sandals for the beach.)

Unless you plan on viewing Banff from the luxury accommodations at Banff Springs Hotel, then you won't require any fancy garments for this trip. The atmosphere is relaxed, but during early summer and fall, Banff is a busy tourist destination.

One of my favorite experiences about traveling is meeting and speaking with people. And since I've had the good fortune to visit many majestic mountains, fairy tale castles, iconic churches, historic buildings, and cities, many become a blur and a distant memory. But the interactions I have with people are what stay with me and shape my experience. That's the reason behind my smile; it works as an icebreaker every time.

Although I've visited Banff often, when I reached out to the live chat site of Banff and Lake Louise regarding these helpful tips I wanted to share with future Banff visitors, that theory was proven again. A shout-out to Mira, who suggested some great search tips regarding my question, and I am sure you'll encounter the same pleasant experience should you direct your questions to

Whenever we leave Banff behind and glimpse the Rockies as they fade in the rearview mirror of our car, we know we are blessed to have this fantastic destination at our doorstep. I dare anyone to have a bad time while visiting. It can't be done.

And remember, Canadians are friendly and welcoming. Smile and chat. You'll be amazed.

Next Monday, join me when I visit the inner sanctum that is Banff town. Start the car!

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Click here to read the top 21 must-see destinations article.

Disclaimer: I'm not paid to endorse the town of Banff, Banff Springs Hotel, or National Geographic for this article.

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