If you’re thinking about taking a walking holiday soon, then there are a few things you should consider before you go.
First off – have you selected a destination? There is potential for walking holidays in pretty much every country so if you don’t have a set destination or route in mind then you’ll need to narrow it down. Try thinking about what you want to do along the way, what your budget is, and of course what type of person you are. Maybe you’re the solitary type, preferring to roam free unencumbered by the need to walk at the same pace as your companions, or enjoy being with your own thoughts rather than making conversation. And then perhaps you like to be part of a group with plenty of chat and opportunities to meet new friends.
Bearing in mind that you’ll probably be wanting to cover ten to twenty miles each day, you’ll need to be in pretty good shape before you go. If that’s beyond you at the moment then you might want to get some practise in first, even if it’s only on a treadmill at the gym. Thinking about the terrain you’ll encounter is also an issue – you may be confident you can hack it, but will you need a guide to show you the best places and steer you away from potential problems?
What to pack will depend a lot on the type of weather you’re likely to be seeing. Unless you’re planning to return to an accommodation every day or leave things in a storage locker, then you’ll probably be carrying everything with you, so you need to travel fairly light. For walking holidays in Europe then the bare essentials are sturdy boots, good thick socks, waterproofs, sunglasses and sun-tan lotion, water bottle. If you’re planning to head off the beaten track then probably compass, whistle and torch also. But bear in mind local conditions – if you’re going to less-developed countries, particularly those in the tropics or Asia, then you could need mosquito repellent, and water-sterilising tablets too. Don’t forget a basic first aid kit either.
The great thing about walking holidays is they can incorporate so many other interests too. You can take in some sight-seeing, or if you like a bit of twitching, remember your binoculars. A camera is a must whatever you’re doing. Also – if you like your grub, , why not plan a route that will take in restaurants or regions where you can sample the local specialities – a great idea in countries like Spain, France and Italy,
Looking at options for accommodation, you can either use one or two bases and walk in that area, returning every night to sleep, or you can create a route that will involve a different place to bed down every night. Popular walking routes will often be lined with small guesthouses which you can book in advance (always do so if you can, especially in peak season). Alternatively you could carry a lightweight tent with you and camp, it’s only a few extra kilos on your back and gives you total freedom – just remember to ask permission if you’re staying on private land.
Finally, walking holidays can be such a blissful experience that people often get the bug. In which case, if you fancy setting yourself a challenge one year such as crossing the Pyrenees or walking from one coast of England to another, why not try and rustle up some sponsorship to help a charity?