Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Walking vacations are the ideal way to indulge your love of walking, meet people of a similar mindset, see different parts of your own country or discover wonderful scenic areas abroad.
The choice is almost unlimited. There are walks available for every level of fitness. You should begin your planning by checking out your local walking club. Many clubs undertake an annual or bi-annual walking holiday. They may be planning something which might suit you. Usually the most important criterion is to be a member of the club. As membership fees are normally reasonable and affordable this should not pose a problem,
If you decide to go further afield you usually have to make your own way to the start of the trip. This is not included in the price. Be sure to check out carefully what is included. Normally your bed and breakfast accommodation is covered; transfers to starting point from common location - perhaps train station or airport. You may be responsible for the cost of your own evening meal or it may be included in price. Be sure to check.
There are guided and self-guided walks. If you choose a guided walking holiday this means that you will have a guide for every walk. You do not have to find your own way, follow maps or research the intended walks beforehand. Your guide will do all this for you and he/she will usually give handouts with the information on it. All you have to do is walk! Of course you will pay for the services of the guide in the overall price.
With a self guided walk your trip organiser will meet you at the starting point and give you full directions including maps and a rendezvous for the evening. He/she will meet you in the evening and give you details of the next day’s walk. This type of trip suits the confident and independent walker and is less expensive.
You can also choose to stay in one place and exploit all the walks in that area over a period of days. In this case you start and finish at the same hotel every evening. This is perfect for getting to know an area very well. You will stay in the same hotel and will probably have time to discover the local shops and get a feel for the everyday life of the people in the area.
The alternative to the above arrangement is to bed and breakfast in one place and walk to the next accommodation during the next day. The disadvantage of this is that you may have to do shorter or longer walks each day to reach your destination. It may not be possible to walk a set number of miles every day. The destination is dependent on the location of the accommodation.
Some walking holidays are only suitable for experienced walkers but there are many travel companies which cater for different levels of walker on the same trip. Make sure you assess your own capabilities accurately as if you attempt too much it will spoil your holiday. You should be able to walk for an hour at a moderate to brisk pace before considering a holiday of this kind
It is also possible to have your luggage carried from one place to the other. This means that you only have to carry a light day bag with water and personal effects. Of course you can avoid this charge if you opt to carry your luggage yourself. The weight of your rucksack should not exceed 10% of your body weight. Some companies include the charge for luggage in the price but for others it is optional. Some hotels or hostels will provide picnic lunches for walkers or depending on the location it may be possible to dine in a roadside café on the way.
With internet access it is now very easy to plan walks yourself. This is much cheaper than paying a travel company to make all your arrangements for you. Of course some people like this and do not want to be troubled with the details. Decide where you would like to go and then do your research. There is a wealth of information available whether you want to do your own planning or join an organised group. Whatever you decide you will find that walkers are a friendly group of people and you will enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places.