A walking tour, whether independent or guided, is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the destination when you travel. You’ll meet people, get up close to the scenery, and you’ll also keep your blood moving enough to justify all the delicious foods you’ll want to sample while you’re abroad.
Of course there’s one item that can make or break your walking trip, one thing that can make all the difference in the world to your walking trip: The right shoe. Whatever you do, don’t overlook the importance of your walking shoe.
So how do you go about finding the right shoe for your trip? Here are a few tips:
- Think boots.
If you’ll be doing a lot of walking over cobblestone, or even in some cases making some ascents on mountainous terrain, you will need the support that a hiking boot offers. Many people think that trail-style running shoes will suffice, but we highly recommend that you go for an actual boot.
- Consider quality.
Your hiking boots can make or break your trip, so don’t try to save a few pennies by going for a bargain-basement brand. Brands such as Clarks, Vasque, Scarpa, Salomon, Timberland and Camper all come highly recommended and have a reputation for standing up to lots of walking and hiking.
- Think about waterproofing.
Even in the best of weather, you may still run across some wet conditions on your walking tour. Consider a waterproof boot, which usually have uppers made with a breathable and waterproof material such as Goretex. You may still need to treat the leather on the boot with waterproofing product.
- Break your boots in before your trip.
Make sure they’re the right boots for you before you depart on your adventure. Wear them around town. Wear them all day. Take a hike in them, paying attention to how they feel when you ascend and when you descend and incline.
- Get good quality socks to go with your boots.
Once you’ve gotten your boots picked out, don’t neglect the other key to foot comfort: Quality hiking socks. Synthetic materials are preferred to cotton, as they will help wick moisture away from your foot, reducing friction.
Independent travel can lead to some truly astounding experiences. It may be a challenge at first to build up the courage to travel overseas by yourself, but once you do it, you’ll learn so much about the place you visit and about yourself, you’re sure to be hooked! Not only are you more likely to make new friends when you travel by yourself, you’re also more likely to open yourself up to totally new experiences.
Of course, traveling by yourself doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. A guided tour can actually be one of the best ways to balance the desire for independence with a great social experience and opportunity to make connections with like-minded travelers. Not only do you have the opportunity to make friends, but you’ll also learn a ton about the place you’re visiting, thanks to a locally-based tour guide who is knowledgeable and passionate about the place you’re visiting.
Our guided walking tours use local or employees who live in the area, and usually have room for 6 to 10 people. They’re incredibly popular, so early booking is definitely recommended.
We offer numerous guided walking tours in Europe, Latin America and North Africa. You can join a small group in exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, the Adriatic wonders of Croatia’s Dalmation Coast, the rich hospitality and color of Southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast … there are dozens of choices offered throughout the year.
There are guided walking tour options for both one-boot and two-boot walkers. The one-boot trips will include a few easy ascents and descents, with the longest days’ walks running from four to six hours. One boot trips won’t include scrambling or dizzying heights, but a two-boot trip may include ascents up to 2,400 feet, with a bit of scrambling and longer days, up to 5 to 6 hours.
The best part of traveling with a guided tour is the fact that it’s up to you. You’re welcome to join in group activities and meals, and the other people who sign up for group trips tend to be very open to meeting new friends. However, our guides are all trained to tailor trips to the needs and desires of the group, so if you’d like more alone time, just tell your guide.
Have you ever traveled alone? Tell us about your favorite solo travel experiences on our Facebook page.
If you’re the kind of traveler who never goes far without a pair of binoculars on hand, in case something of ornithological interest should pop up, then a walking trip should most certainly be on your travel agenda. There is really no better way to see new species of birds than by walking through the countryside with your eyes and ears open to discovery.
Nearly all of our walking trips offer opportunities to birders, but a few of them are particularly rich opportunities. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Islands of Bermuda Walk
This independent, 8-day walking trip offers stunning scenery, including pink-sand beaches, coral reefs and dreamy aquamarine waters. But it’s also a terrific place to spot birds, especially if you visit in the spring, or even better, in the fall, when migrating birds are moving through. You may be able to spot dozens of species of shorebirds, vireos and warblers, cuckoos, flycatchers, swifts, thrushes and tanagers. The trip includes time at Spittal Pond, one of the best birding locations in Bermuda, where you may even be able to spot flamingo.
The Sierra de Gredos mountain range in central Spain contains a wealth of gorgeous landscape, including rugged granite mountains, lush valleys and wildflower-dotted plains. The landscape provides excellent habitat for raptors, including griffon vultures. Woodpeckers, kites, and even nightjars can also often be spotted while you walk among the northern sierra. In addition to all the excellent birding, you may also encounter wild ibex goats, with males sporting impressively large, curved horns.
For the first three nights of this 8-day trip through Portugal, you will stay at the lakeside retreat of Frank McCormick, one of the leading birding experts in the country. Your walks will take you through tranquil valleys dotted with nightingales, azure magpie, blue rock thrush, woodpeckers, and chiff chaff, all while you enjoy stunning views of wild beaches and charming fishing villages that seem to come from another era entirely. It is not unheard of on this trip to see as many as 50 species of birds in a day!
Where have you done your best birding? Share your travel stories with us on the Breakaway Adventures Facebook page!