Calgary Airport Sign

A Rocky Start to Our Trip to the Canadian Rockies

On our way to Canada, we experienced a lot of turbulence – and not from the airplane.

It started with our drive to the Indianapolis International Airport. We left with plenty of time to spare before our flight (or so we thought). Our flight was scheduled to take off at 6:10 p.m., so we left at 3, leaving a respectable amount of time to get to the economy lot, take the shuttle to the concourse, check our luggage, get through security and sit at the gate with some time to relax.

What actually happened: We got stuck in traffic caused by an accident, then re-routed to a different highway, where we got stuck in a one-lane backup due to construction. By this time, I had to use the restroom but knew it’d be a while before I could relieve myself.

When we finally arrived at the economy parking lot, we watched as the closest shuttle passed us by. No problem, another one will be here in a jiffy. Sure enough, it was.

We loaded our bags and filed in like sardines to an already packed shuttle. Ah, finally – we’re at the concourse. At this point, we only had an hour until our plane boarded. I ran to the bathroom and we scuttled toward baggage check.

Flight to Calgary

Any other time we’ve ever flown, we’ve basically dropped our bags off with barely enough time for the airport personnel to weigh them and say, “Have a safe flight!” But not this time. There was a line at the baggage check.

Counting down the seconds until our flight boards, we thought, “Well, we still have 45 minutes.” Ticktock. Ticktock.

Mike’s bag: 34 pounds. My bag: 48 pounds. Score! Two pounds left for souvenirs.

By now, we’re breezing past people on our way to security, where we find a line longer than we’d hoped. Only 30 minutes left until our flight boards.

Let me pause to say that Mike and I are planners. We’re not the type who do anything on a whim – especially when it comes to traveling. Now, I know there are plenty of travelers out there who will say, “30 minutes?! That’s more time than I’d have!” And to you, we say: We will never travel with you.

It’s safe to say we were sweating at this point. We get through security and Mike slings his bag over his shoulder, only to have batteries and charging cables fly out of an unzipped pocket and spill all over the floor. *facepalm*

“Ma’am? Can you please grab that blue piece of plastic over there and that battery?” Mike says to the TSA agent on the other side of the X-ray scanner.

With bags re-packed (and zipped), we head to our gate – we’re finally here! We board just a few moments after arriving. Phew! Close call.

Our flight was fairly smooth actually, but it wasn’t the only one we’d be taking on our journey to Calgary. We had a connecting flight in Minneapolis with only a 41-minute layover. I had been stressing about this layover since I received the email notification from Delta months ago that said our flight plans had changed.


At least we were flying Delta on both flights – surely we would land at the same terminal where our next flight departs, right?

Wrong. We land in Gate F and have to sprint to Gate D in 10 minutes. Since it was an international flight, it took off from another gate.

Our flight to Calgary was boarding when we were still on the tarmac in our other plane. So now we weren’t racing the clock until boarding; we were racing the clock until takeoff.

Yes, we were both sweating.

We skirted around travelers and shoppers (because why wouldn’t there be a mall inside the Minneapolis airport?) and get to the gate just in time for another facepalm: Our pet sitter can’t get the dogs to go outside. Are you kidding me?!

We have five minutes to figure out who’s going to watch our fur babies for the next week. Our trusty, go-to pet sitter was busy part of the week, but alas! Our neighbors can help!


We boarded our flight and before we even sat down, we received a photo from our neighbor of our chihuahua licking his face. He was also able to get both dogs outside within minutes. Thank GOD.

There’s nothing more stressful when we travel than finding a trusted pet sitter. We’re lucky to have amazing neighbors who are willing and able to help at a moment’s notice.

But our luck began fading once we landed in Calgary.

Calgary Airport Sign

We went to go pick up our rental car – which was supposed to cost $450 USD – and the total came to more than $800. Turns out, the insurance I purchased through Expedia didn’t actually cover anything, and we had to purchase a separate policy through the rental car company. Two hours later, we finally got the total down to around $600.

At this point, it’s past midnight and pitch black outside. Oh well, at least we’re finally on our way to Banff!

We hop in the rental car, get the Garmin set up and … it doesn’t work.

Prior to our trip, we updated the GPS with all North American maps, we identified all the coordinates/addresses for every stop on our trip and we tested the GPS several times to make sure it was working properly. (We weren’t planning to get an international SIM card, so we thought using my old GPS would be the perfect way to navigate the Rockies.)

After the journey we’d had thus far, it seemed reasonable to just bite the bullet and use our data for Google Maps – at least until we arrived at our HomeAway and could figure out what the heck was going on with the Garmin.

Garmin in the Rockies

We pulled out of the airport rental car lot and, I’m not kidding, almost got side-swiped by some guy driving way too fast. He blew past us with his middle finger in the air – ah, a nice “welcome to Calgary” gesture.

Finally, about an hour and a half later, we arrived at our HomeAway right in the heart of Banff. Not only were we relieved to end our journey, but the HomeAway ended up being the coziest, homiest little place.

It (and our view the next morning) really helped smooth over the rocky start to our trip to the Canadian Rockies. Soon enough, we forgot all about our troubles. Oh, and we ended up figuring out the GPS after a few days.

Moral of the story: Expect the unexpected on any trip and roll with the punches. There are always going to be challenges. You just have to decide what you let affect you and what you turn into a blog post! 🙂

Banff HomeAway View