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Before Coming to Banff…

by K Gordon Schultz

Things To Know Before Visiting Banff, Alberta

The best way to find out about a new place is by asking a local. When talking about Banff, they don’t come much more local than the Banff Park Ranger. I have spent time in some of Banff’s best accommodations, partaken in the most exciting adventures and drank some of its finest beer to excess. However before you get into the beautiful intricacies of a vacation to Banff, here are some of the essentials you will need in our maple filled country.


During winter, if you think you have enough clothes on, just put some more on. It gets cold, cold, cold. Even in spring and fall, bring a wind and water proof jacket. The weather is more changeable than a schizophrenic’s mood. It is simple; to avoid a cold that could ruin your holiday, be prepared.

Units of measure

In Canada, we use the metric system and calculate our temperatures in degrees Celsius. Kilometers are used for speed limits so if you are used to the mile, make sure you don’t get too excited!


The currency is one of the easiest to use. Just like Monopoly, it is colorful and denominated carefully. Sometimes the notes are so pretty, it’s hard to give them away! A $1 coin is called a Loonie here, a $2 coin is called a Toonie. If you want to make up your own slang for any other part of the currency, please do.

Electrical connections

The electrical current in Canada is 110 volts, and plugs are two flat parallel prongs – or two flat and one round prong. Considering the variety of international visitors we receive to the Canadian Rockies, it isn’t difficult to find the right adaptor.

Tips and gratuities

Depending on your mood and the quality of service, a tip of 15% is the norm. It is allowed to tip Banff Park Rangers, for example, also.

Sales tax

There is no provincial sales tax in the province of Alberta, where Banff and Lake Louise are located. However, there is a 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) charged on the sale of all products and services in Canada.

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