May is national walking month, and as such, we have put together this handy guide to help you make sure you are prepared for every aspect of your walking holiday.
There is something about a walking holiday that shouts adventure. It is an escape from the humdrum of the office and a chance to venture into the wilderness. You too can be Bilbo Baggins, running out the front door without your handkerchief. Before you set off though, here are a few things that you shouldn’t leave behind.
You Can Keep Your Hat On
For some people, a holiday is all about being in the sun, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing! Keep in mind that you may be outdoors for a large part of the day. Wear a hat that shades your neck as well as your face and apply sunblock, remembering to repeat every few hours. If you are prone to sunburn, long sleeves may be more appropriate and there are lightweight, moisture wicking shirts available that are perfect for all weather conditions.
Do your homework so that you know what clothing is appropriate. Even if you don’t need to carry all your belongings on your back, you will have to be selective about what to take. By all means be optimistic about the weather, but have something warm in reserve.
The importance of quality footwear is obvious. There is nothing like a blister to give you the feeling that the road really does go on and on forever. Hiking boots are the safest choice, but be sure to break them in before your holiday. Thick, padded socks will also help – and again you can get ones that are perfect for warmer conditions and will not compound the problem of hot feet. If you have limited space for packing clothes, you can wear thin cotton socks under the thick ones, and just change the thin socks daily.
In Your Backpack
If you haven’t carried a backpack before, it is a good idea to try it out. The extra weight makes a difference, especially on the uphills. Fill your pack, strap it on and take a walk round your neighbourhood. Try the stairs at the local tube station if the Alps aren’t handy. You may discover that you don’t need to take that Collins Bird Guide after all. The app suddenly seems like a much better option.
You will need to take water on most hikes. Two to three litres per day should be enough for an adult walking in hot weather. To offset the weight of the water, be mindful about your lunch and snacks. Select items that are energy dense, such as trail mix, dried fruit and chocolate. Walking holidays that do not include breakfasts and dinners involve careful menu planning.
Any group of walkers should have a basic first aid kit between them. It needs to contain a small set of scissors, tweezers, safety pins, a few sterile dressings and a selection of bandages. Antiseptic wipes or cream and some aspirin should also be included. On camping holidays, however, you may want to consider a more extensive kit.
If you are a novice hiker, it is best to start with a package offered by a reputable company. They will provide options ranging from detailed route notes for independent walkers to trained experts for guided holidays. Once you are more confident you can make your own way, provided you have a compass or GPS, a map, and some idea of how to use these. Whatever your choice, remember that it is far safer to walk in a group.
Headwater.com offer a wide range of guided walking holidays in some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. Just some of the regions you can explore include the French Riviera, the timeless Italian countryside of Chianti, Italy, and the impressive Austrian Lakes.
Walking holidays offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in the landscape. You experience the sights, sounds and smells at first hand, not rushing past outside the car or train. A little preparation will ensure a comfortable experience, but don’t despair if you forget something. After all, Bilbo Baggins ran off without his handkerchief but returned with treasure!