If you love exploring on foot then a walking holiday is for you. Walking is the perfect way to get around a new area at the right pace. You get to see the scenery up close and personal, watch the wildlife and meet and chat to the locals far more easily and naturally. You will keep fit during your holiday too- there are so many benefits! Read these five tips to help you make the most out of your next walking holiday:
Think About the Climate When Choosing Your Location
It sounds obvious but think about the climate and time of year when booking your walking holiday. Last year we planned a few sightseeing walking days whilst on holiday in the South of France during August. This sounded ideal on paper but once we were in the hot climate we found we couldn’t manage to walk far at all. For me, this was beach and pool weather! Therefore when I plan to walk the Mediterranean in the future, I’ll book my break during the cooler, winter months instead. Of course, if you’re used to a hot climate this will be fine for you. Other people like the challenge of winter walking and will find hiking in the snow in Austria to be their perfect holiday. Within Europe, we have a climate to suit all walkers, from subtropical to polar. Pembrokeshire, in the UK is a popular walking destination, especially during the March to September months as the weather can be mild with a cool breeze. Remember to always be prepared for both sun and rain on walking holidays as you will be exposed to the elements. Find the best walking holidays in Europe here.
2. Choosing a Guided Tour or Going it Alone
There are advantages to both choosing a guided walking holiday and exploring independently. If this is your first time exploring a new place on foot then you will benefit from the reassurance of a route planned by the experts. It’s a great way to make sure you see and learn about everything that is worthwhile seeing at your chosen destination. You will feel safe knowing you’re in good professional hands.
However, if you’re an independent, spontaneous traveller then the freedom to change routes or stop longer at certain destinations will appeal to you more. You may have a bucket list of places to visit not currently on the average tourist or tour guide itinerary.
A perfect compromise between the two is to book a self guided walking holiday. Self guided walking holiday include accommodation, detailed walking directions, a map and access to local transport. Walkers are able to take in the sights at their own pace, and choose when and where they wish to stop to eat and shop etc.
3. Allow for Rest Stops
When planning your walking holiday it can be tempting to want to fit in as many sights and routes as possible. In reality, we need to remember that things can take longer than planned. Always allow for rest stops, your body is working hard and you need to allow it to recover. Take time to stop and enjoy the scenic views and wonderful wildlife (don’t forget to pack binoculars and a good camera lens)- this is all part of the experience. Keep your body hydrated and fuelled (more of which below). When planning your routes remember afternoon walks when you’re feeling more fatigued (and walks during the hotter times of the day) can take you longer. If you can, try and rest in the shade or take a siesta during the hottest time of the day.
4. Food and Refreshments
On a guided walking holiday your breakfasts, picnics and lunches are usually included. If you’ve planned your break independently, it’s always best to pack a picnic ready for any rural walks where refreshments may not be available. If there are no food stores or local delis close to you to plan a picnic, your accommodation may be able to prepare you one (for a charge). When walking through villages, towns and cities you can sample the local eateries, after all sampling local delicacies is all part of the travelling experience.
5. Look After Your Feet
Lastly, from past experience it’s always a good idea to look after your feet during a walking holiday. A good pair of hiking boots or walking shoes is needed but remember to break them in before starting your travels. Never wear brand new shoes or boots just before embarking on a long walk. If you find they help, pop some massaging gel insoles in your boots to avoid foot fatigue. You can also put blister tape on any areas you suspect might rub during the walk. Prevention is better than cure. Pack lots of blister plasters, just in case and remember to always carry at least two with you. If your feet get wet during the walk try to dry them and your socks and shoes as soon as you can. After a long day walking soak your feet- they’ve worked hard, they deserve to be pampered. Then apply a healing balm and leave on overnight so your feet will be ready to walk you to a new adventure in the morning- they’re your biggest walking tool so look after them.
Follow these tips and you’ll have an amazing walking (and talking) holiday- enjoy!