Forget the standard hangout by the beach or sightseeing through a city vacation. Hiking, walking and biking are less common ways to explore a destination, according to Susan Sparks, a travel adviser at Points of Interest Travel in Aspen, Colorado, who specializes in customized active trips.
“When you take an active trip, you’re out in nature and get a perspective on a place that most travelers don’t. Plus, you’re moving a lot and burn plenty of calories to balance out all the eating and drinking that are typical on vacations,” she said.
But she cautions that all active getaways aren’t created equal and offers tips on planning one that’s best for you.
Choose a Reliable Outfitter
Yes, you can plan an active vacation on your own, but Sparks said that booking with an outfitter is a smarter way to go.
“A seamless active vacation can be logistically complicated to plan, and trip outfitters have done the groundwork of mapping out routes, vetting out good hotels along these routes and buying the right equipment,” she said.
Reliable outfitters for walking, hiking and biking trips include Backroads, Butterfield & Robinson, Gray & Co., Mountain Travel Sobek, DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co. and Trek Travel. Most offer private and group trips, and all have specialists who can help you choose a trip based on your interests, budget and fitness level.
What Does Active Mean to You?
Your idea of an active vacation could mean waking up early to embark on a full day of heart-pumping movement. For another traveler, however, a half-day of leisurely walking with breaks built in for long lunches and cultural tours constitutes activity. Pick a trip according to your definition of active.
Sparks also advises choosing a trip that matches your fitness level. If you’re looking for a week of challenging hiking, for example, the flat and even terrain in Mallorca won’t cut it, but the steep inclines in Italy’s Dolomites will.
“If you take a trip that’s too easy or too difficult,” she said, “you may feel like it was a waste of money and time.”
Choose Your Destination Second
Are you a biker, or are walking and hiking your activities of choice? Keep in mind that not every destination is suited to every kind of activity. Tuscany, for example, is a haven for bikers, but the busy roads and lack of walking trails make it less ideal for a walking holiday. Similarly, El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route in northern Spain, is a hiker’s dream, but the narrow trails don’t offer the ease of open roads for biking.
Don’t Limit Yourself to One Activity
Multisport trips offer more variety than a trip that’s solely walking or biking.
“There are many fun trip options that combine walking and biking and also have rafting and kayaking thrown in,” Sparks said.
One example is a Backroads trip to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast that includes walking, biking and kayaking.
Writer Shivani Vora/NYT