48 HR+ Roadtrip to Banff National Park

On a whim in the summer, we decided to drive to Banff National Park. Now that sounds like a nice plan. However…we are in Northern New Jersey which happens to be 48 hours away from that park.

Well, traveling across the whole United States of America is a big challenge but one we were willing to take in order to see that gatorade colored lake.

We packed our bags, shopped for all the snacks in the world, mentally prepared by researching long road trip tips(this is the longest roadtrip I’ve EVER done), and filled the gas tank to the brim.

The landscape changed every few hours. There were mysterious mountains and windy roads in Tennesee, followed by a pink and yellow sunrise we obviously stopped the car to watch. There were weird hills and giant fields of tiny yellow flowers in Canada. In North Dakota there was the longest, neverending road with ´middle of nowheré vibes. The sunrise on that road brought bright bright yellows and oranges to the horizon. The nightime on that road was scary though. At 1am we took a random exit in attempts to find a motel. We arrived at a town that only seemed to be inhabited by one small bar and a handful of half drunk men. We went into the motel and found noone except taxidermied animal heads on the walls. Although it was probably more dangerous than we realized, we slept in the weird motel’s parking lot.

We met a group on the Couchsurfer app to go hiking next to Moraine lake with. They were all either avid travelers or hikers, so I loved hearing their stories from around the globe. They wanted to climb an unmarked hiking trail that seemed much more vertical than we were experienced. It was full of tiny rocks that slid very very easily which made the hike dangerous but I couldn’t resist the challenge. We proceeded with the hike and were absolutely amazed by the view. The mountains looked like they were very skillfully drawn by the world’s greatest painter, the smell of the pine trees was enough to make it seem like Christmas in July, and the incredible color of the lake shined in the distance.

We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples on the middle of the mountain sitting on rocks. There was a moment when we had almost reached the top when my friend had a panic attack because we kept sliding and rocks kept falling. We were extremely vertical, and I began thinking about what branches to grasp onto if I fall. I was sliding on my butt and I made a mess of my yoga pants with the rocks. It was the most adrenaline and sweat I had ever produced on a hike. I loved every minute and do not regret it— even though it was definitely almost fatal(lol).

We drove to Seattle to meet our Russian friend who was visiting. With him, we hiked a steep and narrow path to a waterfall called Bridal Veils. The falls really did look like a part of a wedding day. The forest was different here, and a refreshing change of pace from the east coast foliage i’ve grown accostumed to.

Even with all the crazy moments we had, I don’t regret the trip and I would do it a million times over. The weird, scary stuff is what makes any trip better in my opinion. I wouldn’t want things to go perfect.

Weird Sleeping Situations

As a traveller, sometimes you gotta get used to sleeping wherever you can for the night. For me it’s not about beautiful, fluffy white comforters(although those were nice in Montreal) or the best sleep I have ever slept. It’s about the adventures you’ll have during your waking hours.

During my longest roadtrip ever(48+ hours to Banff National Park in Canada), one of my safe havens when it was late and impossible to find a hotel was actually Walmart. Walmart actually lets you park your car or RV in their parking lot overnight and for free. On that same roadtrip, there was a night when we could not find a hotel, airbnb, couchsurfer, or walmart.

So, we fell asleep parked in the car next to a sold out hotel. Covered in blankets, car seat laying down, and the sun coming up I heard a knock on the car window. It was a lady who mistaked us for being homeless, and wanted to give us a 10 dollar bill. I cried thinking of how sweet I thought it was that she cared for random strangers. I also cried because in that moment I felt a little homeless.

After that occurrence though, we headed for the mountains and hiked with the most incredible views. We saw lakes that looked like gatorade ready for someone to drink, mountain peaks so high and snowy that they seemed like they were digital paintings, and trees that smelled like Christmas in July. The nature there is one of the most amazing that my eyes have had the pleasure to witness in my entire life.

In Spring of 2018 I travelled to Europe for two months and reached a variety of countries thanks to Ryan Air and Vueling(Cheap airlines—I flew for about $18 dollars to Spain). When I was in Germany, I decided to go on a roadtrip to Paris at the last minute with a friend, her cousins and her cousins’ baby. We hit the road without even looking for a hotel. We figured we’d just find one when we arrived(big mistake). Of course, we found no vacant hotels.

After spending hours looking for a vacancy, we gave up and coincidentially drove to a street with an empty parking space with the Eiffel tower shining right in front of us just about a block or two away. It was cold but I’ll never forget all four of us peeing behind the car, one by one, the Eiffel tower as our only witness. It sparkled in the background as if to say, Welcome, Darling. Our Paris trip was quite hectic to say the least but I loved walking in the rain in such a romantic city.

So, where you sleep doesn’t matter as much as the sights you see and the things you get to experience in new countries. You can sleep comfortably when you’re at home. A good night’s sleep is nice when you are abroad but I’ll trade some good ZZZ’s for a good experience any day.