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A lot of companies offer Canadian Rockies packages and sometimes it's difficult to compare them. Consider these factors before making a decision about which package is best for you.
Escorted or Not
Trains and the Canadian Rockies go together in the minds of many travelers, but not all Canadian Rockies packages include train travel. If you want to travel on the train, then make sure a train component is included.
Two trains travel to the Canadian
If you have your heart set on traveling on the all-daylight Rocky Mountaineer, then make sure your package names the Rocky Mountaineer. If there's no mention of the Rocky Mountaineer, then you can be sure you won't be on that train.
Some round trip packages include travel on both the Rocky Mountaineer and the ViaRail Canadian.
If you prefer to travel by motor coach only, then make sure there are no train components in your package. If, however, you'd like to take the train but believe a motor coach tour is more economical, be sure to compare the price of an all motor coach tour with a train and motor coach package. You may be surprised.
Some companies offer self-drive packages where accommodations and car rental are all arranged for you, and they may also include admission to some attractions.
If you want to travel through the Rockies by car, the best starting point is Calgary since the Calgary International Airport (YYC) is the airport closest to the Canadian Rockies (137 km / 86 miles).Canada does not allow flights in national parks. (Scenic helicopter flights are available in the area, but heliports are strategically located just outside the Parks.)
To guarantee you get the type of accommodations you want as part of your package sometimes requires your calling the company advertising the package tour and asking them to name the hotels included in the package. If they say there are a number of possibilities, then get the name of each hotel possibility.
Once you have hotel names, research them on TripAdvisor to see what other travelers have to say. Make sure you're happy with your hotels before you commit to any package.
Some of North America's most renowned hotels are located in the Canadian Rockies: the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. If you have your heart set on staying at these hotels, then make sure they are part of your package. If they are included, you can be sure they will be prominently featured in the tour's description.
If they aren't named, then there is little chance they are included. Sometimes, hotels have names that can be confused with the hotel you want: the Lake Louise Inn, for example, is not the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The Banff Park Lodge is not the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. And the word "resort" in the name of a property should always be taken with a very large grain of salt. What the property owner thinks of as a "resort" may not be at all similar to what you consider a "resort" to be.
Sometimes, as a cost cutting measure, packages are designed to begin with a morning activity. However, in order to take part in that activity you will have to arrive at the tour start location the day before. If that is the case, factor the additional night into the total price of the package. At the other end, packages sometimes end rather abruptly and require an additional night before you can fly home.
There are many activities available in the Rockies: river rafting and floating, helicopter flightseeing, gondola and tramway rides, local bus tours, wildlife viewing, hot springs visits, canoeing, kayaking, bike rentals, Ice Explorer rides, horseback riding, golfing, walking or hiking, even winery tours. Choose a tour that includes the kinds of activities that interest you or that includes enough free time to do the things you want.
Read the package description very carefully, because many of them list activities that aren't actually included in the package but are available at an additional cost. Don't be misled into believing something is included in your package that isn't.
Many people assume that all tour
packages are escorted: that a guide will meet them at the airport or hotel, welcome them, invite
them to a first night dinner with all their traveling companions. They expect the guide to be
with them for the duration of the trip. If you want an escorted tour, then make sure that's
what you're getting.