A walking holiday is the perfect way to keep fit whilst seeing a new town or country. Growing in popularity, walking holidays are creating new ways to give us challenges, a goal, and a lifelong experience when traveling.
You could sit around a Spanish hotel pool all day fighting off the German towels from the deck chairs, or you could complete a Camino de Santiago de Compostela - a series of historic pilgrim paths that all head back to Santiago.
If you have made up your mind and have decided to undergo your first walking holiday, here are some tips to get started.
Walking holidays are a great way to challenge ourselves without the dangers of mountain climbing or base jumping, but it doesn’t mean they’re risk free. In order to stay safe, even if it simply means ensuring you have a hotel to stay at at the end of the night during the Portuguese Way, then it’s worth using a tour company. They’re not mandatory, but they can take the headache of planning away and minimize what can go wrong - leaving more headspace for enjoyment.
Whether or not you use a tour company, some planning will need to happen. When picking a route, you should have a realistic idea about your general fitness level. As it’s your first trip, it’s best to play it safe with a route that is deemed to be beginner friendly.
Become familiar with the hiking apps that can help you out, as well as reviews of the walking routes that you’re going to undertake. If you’re doubtful about walking every single day, there’s no problem in adding in some more rest days.
Now is the time to get your gear, such as walking shoes, a good rucksack, and any other gadgets that may come in handy. However, what’s important here is that you go for a few long practice walks to put anything new you have brought to the test. In some instances you’re better off wearing your trusty old Adidas sneakers than a brand new pair of boots if they haven’t been worn in yet.
The weather at the time of going can have a large impact on the terrain, safety, and all round difficulty of the walking holiday. Generally, mild weather is best, as both extremely hot and cold weather can be equally as dangerous, whilst seasons of unpredictable storms and monsoons should be avoided. When heading off in Europe, providing you’re not going up mountains, most destinations are safe all year round.
Beyond the clothing and gadgets mentioned earlier, there are some essentials that you cannot forget. This includes sun protection, a head torch, water bottle, first aid kit, a compass, a reliable phone, and a hat. Of course, this list extends further during different environments, such as rain or snow gear, or a sun hoodie.
However, the aim of the game here is keeping your backpack as light as possible. It can be fun to splash out on some new gadgets for your new hobby, but question if you need them on your very first trip - then let the feedback on your first trip dictate whether you need them for future trips (i.e. whether you found yourself slipping and could’ve done with walking poles).