Walking holidays: why to go and how to plan

No matter where you travel to, walking is often the best way to experience a new location. This article provides seven great reasons for taking a walking holiday and seven tips for how to prepare for your adventure.

Walking holidays: why to go and how to plan

Why should you walk?

  1. It's a slower way of getting around that lets you really unwind. If you've been working hard and sitting at a desk all year, a walking holiday is the perfect antidote.
  2. It's cheap. Many long-distance walks are well marked with inexpensive or free accommodation along the way, so you don't have to book an expensive organized tour.
  3. You don't have to be super-fit to enjoy a walking holiday. If you're not up to marathon walks, base yourself somewhere beautiful and walk just a little each day.
  4. Walking is an unobtrusive way of experiencing your surroundings. If you move quietly, you'll see wildlife that you wouldn't normally see from a car.
  5. If you're out in the country, walking gives you a break from the urban environment and pollution and lets you breathe fresh air.
  6. You'll be able to reach out-of-the-way places. Mountain terrain is often inaccessible to cars, but a network of tracks may be open to walkers. Being away from traffic and noise enjoying spectacular scenery can be an exhilarating experience.
  7. Completing a journey on foot can provide a great sense of accomplishment.

How to prepare

  1. If you're interested in joining an organized tour, find out how much walking is involved. Tours range from one or two kilometres of city sightseeing to long walks covering substantial distances – as much as 10 to 18 kilometres per day.
  2. Check what sort of terrain and distances you'll be facing. Trekking tours frequently involve arduous walking and some climbing.
  3. Choose sturdy, comfortable, lightweight walking shoes or boots with good ankle support. Your footwear should provide stability for your entire foot, ankle and leg, cushioning the heel and supporting it.
  4. Buy footwear at least six weeks in advance so you can break it in gradually and avoid blisters on your walking holiday.
  5. Don't assume that willpower and enthusiasm alone will sustain you. When did you last walk 18 kilometres in one day? Before you commit yourself to a trip, take a test walk on similar terrain.
  6. Find out how much you'll need to carry. Many organized walks will transport your luggage from one night's lodging to the next so that all you need to carry is a light day-pack, camera and perhaps a packed lunch. If you plan a more independent approach, be prepared to carry more supplies.
  7. A more costly backpack than what you'd normally use may seem like a splurge, but when you consider the transportation costs you're cutting, what you'll be able to bring along and the difference it makes for your back, it might be worth the price.

Instead of rushing past scenery at high speed in a car or train, a walking holiday allows you to hear local birds, spot animals and see parts of the natural world you may otherwise miss, like wildflowers. Walking in populated areas will give you a feel for the local culture, as well.

So for your next vacation, why not put on a pair of hiking boots and explore the world on foot!

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