From windy foothills to sandy shores overlooking breathtaking seas, walking tours take you to exquisite areas of the world unreachable by plane or car.
Great for the body and soul, these eco-sensitive adventures allow you to sever ties with crowded highways and truly get to know a region from the ground up.
Walking your way through an exotic region of the world offers the exclusive opportunity to familiarize yourself with local culture and customs—crucial aspects of an enriching vacation experience with which road trips and bus tours simply cannot compete.
Walking tours generally earn you entry to more attractions at your destination and additional perks along the route.
Hiking through a route dotted with remote villages affords the opportunity to sample authentic foods and observe the locals as they go about their daily routines and rituals.
Walking tours are a non-stop learning experience as tour guides are known to share trivia as well as anecdotes about the history of the region you’re touring.
By the end of your trip, you’ll have extensive knowledge and insight into the area you’ve just visited, making your vacation more memorable than any bus or road trip.
And walking tours have become more commonplace within the past thirty years with numerous companies offering itineraries across the globe.
Whether you’re looking to explore the lush wine regions of Italy or admire volcanoes in New Zealand, there are walking adventures operated by tour operators in multiple countries with programs that appeal to a variety of interests.
Originally the preferred form of vacation in the United Kingdom, today the most sought-after walking tours take you through the hidden treasures of France, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and the USA as well.
If by now you’ve saved up enough time and money to invest in an eco-friendly trip that will do wonders for your physical and mental well-being, it’s time to consider the proper preparation for this sort of vacation.
As you prepare and search for your dream walk, keep these five tips in mind to help you get the most out of your trip.
1.) Make sure your physical endurance level matches up to the level required for your desired walking vacation.
Your walking tour operator should tell you how strenuous each hike on the itinerary will be, as well as the length and distance you will be expected to travel each day.
Some days, your walk will cover small distances over flat land, while other days you will cover around 15 miles over hilly terrain. With that in mind, remember to choose a walking vacation that is within your limits.
Don’t risk pulling a muscle or having sore feet and blisters by choosing too challenging of an itinerary — this will detract from the rejuvenating experience that an ideal walking vacation offers.
It’s critical that you buy a pair of durable hiking boots. Quality hiking boots are expensive but are a worthwhile investment and should be broken in before your trip.
Wear wool or synthetic wool hiking socks underneath your boots for added comfort and padding. Your feet will thank you at the end of the day.
Also, pack a variety of clothing options so you can dress in layers each day. You don’t want to be stuck wearing a thick sweater when an early morning chill suddenly turns into a hot, sunny afternoon.
Likewise, pack rain and/or snow gear if there’s a chance you might run into inclement weather along your route.
3.) Buy a daypack and stock it with essentials.
Your tour operator should offer to transport the majority of your luggage to your hotel or inn, but you’ll still want to carry some necessities with you throughout the day.
Bring plenty of water in your daypack. Some packs can hold a water bladder, which can be more convenient and less bulky than water bottles.
Don’t forget snacks, either. Meals are usually evenly spaced throughout the day, but extra food will come in handy if you fall behind schedule or if a hike is particularly grueling.
Lastly, bring a basic first aid kit for those pesky scrapes, cuts and blisters that show up after a long day’s walk.
4.) Find the right itinerary.
With dozens of walking tour operators offering trips catering to various interests, you should have no problem finding one that piques your interest.
If a walking tour operator offers a trip itinerary that somewhat aligns with your interest, contact the operator and inquire about tailoring it further to better suit your needs.
If you plan to travel with a large group, some operators will customize an itinerary from scratch for your private party.
5.) Do your homework.
Orient yourself to your new temporary home by reading reviews and articles about local tourism online.
Check out travel blogs that cover that specific area and read up on current events from local news outlets, if possible.
Learn about the local customs, culture and language from a travel guidebook. Bookstores sell pocket-size guides that will fit perfectly into a day pack.
Memorize a few conversational words and phrases such as “hello,” “please” and “thank you” in order to interact with the locals.
Once you engage with the people you meet while walking, you’ll learn a lot about their way of life, which will transform your walking tours into unforgettable experiences.
Judy Allpress, Vacation Specialist for The Wayfarers
- Susan Ecenbarger
- Caroline Anthony
- Alan Pinkney
- Roy Robinson