HomeExchange members Nathan, Emilie, Noah and Samuel from Love Life Abroad recently enjoyed their dream vacation in Banff while sticking to a budget. Nathan shares the secret to the family's affordable, authentic, unforgettable trip.

Do you want to explore the rocky mountains in Banff, but you’re not sure if it fits your family’s budget?

Banff is hands down one of the most beautiful destinations in Canada. The views, the people, the shops… everything about Banff encourages you to put work on hold, go outside, and play.

The only problem? This kind of dream destination always comes with a higher price tag. That’s why we want to share how our family was able to have a nine-night vacation in Banff and Canmore for $21 CAD/night.

How? By using the welcome GuestPoints we received when we signed up on HomeExchange. And now, we’ll tell you how you can do the same! But first, let’s talk about why you’d want to visit Banff in the first place.

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What Makes a Banff Vacation So Wonderful?

To give a bit of backstory here, my wife and I had planned on taking our two boys (ages 2 and 4) on a world trip at the end of 2020. We’d sold everything in preparation and then, as you know, 2020 took a turn for the worse. And it just kept on turning.

Meet our members Nathan, Emilie, Noah & Samuel from Love Life Abroad

So we changed our plans to drive across Canada and explore our own backyard. But when it came to creating the itinerary, we had lots of things to consider. One of those factors would be, “How can we afford to visit the Canadian Rockies without blowing through our savings?”

It’s this question that initially had me thinking we couldn’t afford to have a proper Banff vacation. Instead, we’d likely just drive through for the day. Well, that’s what I thought anyway!

Then my wife, Emilie, began showing me all the things we could do in Banff. Here are a few of the highlights that stuck out:

With all these amazing sites, I started to change my mind. Rather than thinking, “we can’t afford to visit,” I started to think, “we can’t afford NOT to see this place.”

That’s when we started looking at pricing, which was discouraging to say the least. Frankly, we didn’t have $2,000 for a week’s vacation in Banff (and that would be just for lodging!).

That’s when my wife reminded me about HomeExchange.

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How to Save Big on Your Banff Vacation With HomeExchange

Before we’d sold the house, my wife had enrolled us with HomeExchange. In fact, we’d actually used our registration points to finalize an exchange for a home in Paris for 10 nights. Which, for the record, was already several hundred dollars in savings–if not more.

Then when COVID hit, we had to cancel our vacation in the city of lights. But we still had all those points just waiting, thanks to HomeExchange's COVID-19 guarantees and flexible cancellation.

That’s when we found a place in Banff on HomeExchange with this view:

View from our HomeExchange in Banff

Our Banff vacation HomeExchange was a detached guest house with an outdoor dining table, a BBQ, and a hot tub. It’s located within walking distance to all the major attractions, has tons of parks nearby for kids, and the neighborhood has real deer meandering about.

We weren’t sure if we’d landed in Banff or in a kid’s Disney movie.

And, somehow (to be honest, I’m still not certain how they manage it), HomeExchange made Banff vacation accommodations a realistic option.

We were able to spend five nights in Banff using the HomeExchange GuestPoints system.

But that’s not all. After five nights of an incredible Banff vacation–which we’d never thought we could afford–we had another four nights in Canmore, a nearby city roughly 20 kilometers away.

This vacation home was just as breathtaking!

Our HomeExchange in Canmore

It was part of a larger resort and was remarkably new and well-furnished. It had a pool with a waterslide for the boys (and me), a hot tub that was half indoor/half outdoor (for Emilie), a paddling pool for toddlers, a restaurant, and a cafe.

Plus, during the daytime, we’d take our boys to the park. When speaking with other parents, we’d mention we were staying at this resort and were surprised when locals told us they’d always wanted to visit, but could never justify the cost. Yeah… we know that feeling.

But somehow, HomeExchange was able to make all this happen.

HomeExchange in Canada 🇨🇦

How Much Does a Banff Vacation Normally Cost?

Places to stay in Banff are like anywhere else: the pricing varies depending on where you want to stay and how many luxuries you need.

If you’re looking for a hotel with a spa and a 5-star dining experience, the price will be different than a motel sitting on the Trans-Canada Highway.

That said, we decided to see how much it would’ve cost for the places we stayed if we didn’t have HomeExchange.

Here’s how the pricing would’ve broken down for our five-night Banff vacation and our four-night getaway in Canmore:

  • Five nights in downtown Banff (in low season): $1,431 on VRBO
  • Four nights at the resort in Canmore (in low season): $792 on Airbnb
  • Total: $2,223 CAD

Needless to say, we hadn’t planned on a budget of $7,000/month for lodging on this trip. So without HomeExchange, these nine nights simply couldn’t have happened.

And, again, these prices are in the low season. That means Banff vacation rentals (even with Airbnb) would cost even more throughout the year.

But here’s what we ended up paying: $190 CAD for an annual membership.

When broken down into a nightly rate, that comes to roughly $21/night.

That means we had our Banff vacation for the same price as our annual Netflix subscription. I’m a big fan of binging "Breaking Bad," but it’s not hard to see which membership paid off more.

Takeaways From Our Vacation With HomeExchange

Even though our family was disappointed that we couldn’t travel the world in 2020, we consider ourselves lucky. Our boys are happy, healthy, and only drove us a little crazy on the road.

Thanks to HomeExchange, we had an amazing nine days in the Canadian Rockies using the GuestPoints we received for free when we signed up. We’d pay the $190 again in a heartbeat for an annual HomeExchange membership with a year of unlimited exchanges, giving us peace of mind knowing that we were covered by the HomeExchange guarantees. Frankly, it’s a no-brainer.

When we're ready for our next vacation (we're thinking Vancouver, Hawaii, San Diego, or maybe Estonia— with HomeExchange, the possibilities are endless!), we will keep using HomeExchange, accruing more GuestPoints by hosting members of the community or finalizing reciprocal exchanges (meaning someone will come to our place while we go to theirs). We'll get to enjoy unlimited exchanges around the world all year, under the same $190 CAD yearly membership. There are no hidden fees or extra charges!

Ready to try it for yourself? Sign up for HomeExchange and start searching for your next vacation getaway.

After all, 2020 was a hard year... You’ve earned it!

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Follow Nathan, Emilie, Noah and Samuel's adventures on their blog, Instagram and Facebook page.