If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get all that many proper holidays. Time that can be scraped off work tends to get eaten by family commitments, personal emergencies or simple recovery. Most of us are lucky if we can get away once a year, and with that in mind, it’s very important to make the most of the opportunity and pick the right type of holiday for you.
In case the title didn’t give it away, I personally am very partial to walking holidays. There’s nothing I like better than ambling gently through unfamiliar terrain, exploring under open skies. Walking holidays can be an immensely rewarding experience, but they probably aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. With that in mind I decided to compile a list of five of the best selling points of a walking break, in the hopes of maybe making a few converts to the perambulatory cause.
For most of us, vacations present a rare opportunity to relax. Trekking across open countryside comes with a truly blissful clarity of mind. The mental freedom from the mundane that comes with knowing that you are miles removed from anything tying you to your day to day life is staggering. My personal preference is to walk somewhere with no cell phone reception (or at the very least somewhere that I can claim has no cell phone reception) so that I can lie back, content in the knowledge that even if the office catches fire or is invaded by timber wolves, there is no possibility of it becoming my problem for at least another week.
That’s not even beginning to consider the blissful tranquillity of your surroundings. Europe’s great cultural metropolises may have much to recommend them, but as anyone who has ever tried to contend with the Parisian congestion will attest, they are not exactly relaxing to navigate. Compare that to the serene, peaceful and oft times deserted sites of natural beauty that can be experienced by following your feet; you can bathe your feet in a sparkling brook or look down across half the country, all without having to encounter another human being.
I’m sure most of us would wish to be healthier than we are, but sadly there never seem to be enough hours in the day to follow through on that exercise plan we’re always thinking about, and holidays are far too important to be spent playing catch up. After all; who wants to spend their only summer break cooped up in the gym?
Walking holidays provide an excellent compromise, allowing you to kill the calories whilst engaging in something thoroughly enjoyable. Walking is tremendous exercise and even a conservative trekker can demolish thousands of calories (as well as building stamina and fitness) during the course of a day. What’s more, walking as a form of exercise can be tailored on the fly to be exactly as relaxing or intensive as you want it to be – you can power walk towards the summit of a mountain, or amble at your own pace along a river bank, it’s entirely up to you.
Not the most stylish of motivations, but the financial benefits of a walking holiday are hard to deny – especially in our recession struck climate. Traditional holidays are almost designed to cost you as much money as humanly possible. Transportation, accommodation, meals out, every sight you with to see of thing you wish to do carries a fee, and you can bet your boots that touristy locations are going to ramp up the price.
In comparison, a walking holiday can be enjoyed for little more than the cost of a tent and a pair of boots. Nature is the great equaliser; a forest is exactly as beautiful, and exactly as accessible, for rich and poor alike. If you’re smart about it then camping ranges from very cheap to free, and feeding yourself is a lot less taxing on the purse when you remove restaurants from the equation. As for transportation, you’ll be walking to most places… that’s sort of the point really.
It’s environmentally friendly.
Budget airlines may have helped to combat the extent we need to cost cut when going on holiday, but there’s a bigger cost that needs to be attended to. As a rule of thumb, the further afield you holiday the worse it is for Mother Nature. Aeroplanes are of course the big offender, with even a short distance flight effectively pumping several thousand kilos of harmful CO2 atmosphere. Other forms of public transport are considerably greener, but none can claim to be as environmentally friendly as a nature walk, which clocks in roughly zero carbon emissions. Walking holidays are the uncontested king of green entertainment.
You get to see things you’d never see on an urban vacation.
Just look at the pictures. The planet earth is a beautiful place, filled corner to corner with emotion stirring wonders that most people will never get to see. There are sites of unspoiled natural beauty within walking distance of almost any location, and all you have to do is point your feet in the right direction. Picturesque forests, jaw dropping sunsets, panoramic views and will stay with you for the rest of your life, the planet is full of wonders, and the nice thing is that it is big enough for you to never see the same thing twice.
There are unlimited wonders out there waiting to be discovered; all you have to do is look.