1. Planning to see and do too much for the time duration of your vacation. This is by far the biggest mistake people make when planning their trip. Mainly due to reason #2.
2. Misjudging distances and driving times between destinations. Canada is the second largest country in the world, so big that it spans 5 time zones. The entire United Kingdom can fit into the province of Alberta with room to spare. When outlining your itinerary make sure to factor in travel times so you can actually enjoy the places you visit instead of rushing from one to the next or spending the majority of your vacation driving.
The map below shows the outline of the United Kingdom sitting within the province of Alberta. Not only do visitors try to plan too much in the Rocky Mountains, many of them want to attempt a drive to the west coast and back or vice versa. It’s over 1000 km’s one way between Banff and Vancouver and 9 hours of driving time, not accounting for any stops.
3. Not knowing the diversity of the climate and weather in different parts of Canada and how unpredictable the weather can be in the Rocky Mountains. For more information see our post: What To Expect For Weather And Temperatures In The Canadian Rocky Mountains.
4. Assuming everything is the same in Canada as in the U.S.A. We have different customs, laws, currency, food, climate and even different cellphone carriers. If you have a U.S. cellphone it will work, but if your plan doesn’t have terms to include Canada you could incur hundreds of dollars in roaming charges. The same applies for cellphones from other countries.
5. Expecting to use your cellphone everywhere in the Rockies. WiFi and cellphone service are not available everywhere in the mountains. Cellphone service is sketchy outside of the town sites and on some stretches of roads such as the Icefields Parkway. There’s basically no service along the entire route.
6. Underestimating the challenges there can be while driving a vehicle in the winter months. If you have no experience driving in snowy or icy conditions your Canadian Rocky Mountain vacation is not the time to learn.
7. Not realizing how long the winter season is in the Rocky Mountains. The first major snowfall can occur as early as September or October. Spring starts much later, especially in higher elevation areas like Lake Louise where the ground cover snow can last through the month of May. Lake Louise is covered in ice until late May or early June. Book your trip at the appropriate time if your goal is to see the coloured water that the glacier lakes are famous for. See our post: When Do The Rocky Mountain Lakes Thaw And Get Their Beautiful Turquoise Colour.
8. Planning to visit a popular attraction such as Moraine Lake and not realizing the access road is closed during part of the year. Moraine Lake road is shut down around the 3rd week of October and doesn’t re-open again until approximately mid-May. For more information see our post: Tips For Visiting Moraine Lake.
9. Booking a trip in the off-season because the airfare is cheaper. This doesn’t necessarily mean visiting in the off-season is a bad thing, but make sure it’s going to meet your expectations. People often book without doing enough research. This can lead to disappointment if you find out a lot the activities you were planning to do are not going to be possible. For more information see our post: Visiting Banff And Jasper In The Shoulder Season Of Apri And May. and When Is The Best Time To Visit Banff National Park And The Rocky Mountains.