Exploring the world on foot is one of the most rewarding vacation experiences you can have. Imagine yourself strolling through a medieval French village or pausing under the shade of a pine tree to catch your first view of crashing waves along the Atlantic coast of Portugal. At close of day, you’re tired but invigorated—ready for a hot shower, a relaxing dinner, and a comfortable night’s rest. Of course, there are many different styles and approaches to consider when organizing your walking tour—bearing in mind that even the best things in life come with their share of ups and downs. Here are a few of the most common travel hurdles you’ll encounter while planning an active vacation—and how to navigate around them.
The Staggering Amount of Time it Takes to Plan a DIY Vacation
If you’re trying to decide if you should plan your own walking vacation from soup to nuts, the first question to ask yourself is—”how much time do I want to spend planning this?” If your answer is “I want to devote months of my life to planning every detail” then a do-it-yourself (DIY) walking tour is for you! If, on the other hand, your schedule is packed with work and play, booking a Country Walkers Self-Guided Adventure takes much less time. Just find the departure you want, book it—then let us take care of the nitty-gritty. Here are a few examples of things you DON’T have to plan when you book a Country Walkers Self-Guided Adventure:
- Booking flights: The expert Country Walkers flight department will find the best airlines and itineraries for you at reasonable prices—taking advantage of our contract rates with major carriers.
- Finding hotels: We visit each hotel to ensure it ranks highly on our 23-point hotel scoring matrix.
- Moving your luggage: On a Country Walkers Self-Guided Adventure, we move your luggage to each hotel for you.
- Mapping the best walking routes: At Country Walkers, we walk all the routes ourselves and our local in-country staff members are always on the lookout for trail closures and other detours. Our detailed route notes provide you with maps, step-by-step instructions, and sight-seeing recommendations.
- Managing the unexpected: Let’s face it—even the most well-planned vacation can hit the odd wrinkle. With a Country Walkers Self-Guided Adventure, our 24/7 local support team is there to iron it out for you—so you can relax and enjoy your vacation with total peace of mind.
Missing Out on the Hidden Gems
There’s no denying it—conducting travel research is a poor substitute for authentic local knowledge. However, if you’re planning a walking trip to a far-off destination, what resources do you have beyond guidebooks and the internet? The trouble is—those are the resources everyone else has, too.
In our experience, the best walking trails aren’t always in the guidebooks—and even if you did happen to stumble across one of the region’s hidden gems, how would you know? Most of us tend to choose the trail that has the best reviews—which is exactly why you’ll wind up walking with a pack of tourists who all had the same idea.
If your goal is to veer off the beaten path and explore the authentic heart of your destination, you’ll need the inside perspective. At Country Walkers, we have friends all over the world—from our experienced local staff in Europe, South America, and the United States to our friends and family in Africa, Asia, and New Zealand. This gives us the inside scoop on trails with unique features, top conditions, and opportunities to spot local wildlife. We keep our ear to the ground, so we know about local changes as they happen. We’re experts when it comes to finding seamless alternatives if flooding washes out a bridge, or a trail is temporarily rerouted due to local conservation efforts. When you plan a DIY tour, you’re at the mercy of published information—so it’s easy to get surprised by last-minute developments.
When You Need Support, Who Has Your Back?
When you plan a DIY vacation, the buck stops with you. So, if something goes wrong (for example, a transportation strike shuts down the rail system, or a hotel loses your booking) the only person who can solve that problem is YOU. With a Country Walker Self-Guided Adventure, we’ve got your back when unexpected circumstances interrupt your itinerary. Our expert team confirms all aspects of your trip ahead of time—so hotels, restaurants, and taxis are ready and waiting at the appointed time. Our local hosts have walked the routes—so we know about any hurdles and have a plan to work around them. Plus, our local team is available 24/7 to handle any last-minute surprises.
On your arrival day, your Country Walkers host welcomes you with a detailed orientation meeting. You’ll learn what to expect during your stay, including local tips and tricks—such as the most authentic venue for live music, or how to spot top-quality organic honey at the provincial farmer’s market. Best of all, you’ll have a friendly face in the region—and a number to call if things go awry. From there, the rest is up to you! With detailed Country Walkers route notes in hand, most self-guided travelers explore independently—contacting their host only in the event of the unexpected. A Country Walkers Self-Guided Adventure gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace—with local support when you need it most.
The Unenviable Luggage-Juggling Act
Let’s say you’ve decided on an active vacation for two people. One of the first questions to ask yourself before you decide on a travel style is—what’s the itinerary, and how many places do you want to see along the way? If your dream vacation involves staying in the same hotel for seven nights—no problem! A DIY vacation is for you. But if you have any ambition of moving from place to place, a DIY vacation can involve a whole lot of extra planning. How do you get your luggage from town to town? You can rent a car and drive your luggage—or you might consider lugging all your gear onto a bus or train. This is where Country Walkers Self-Guided Adventures really shine. On days when you switch hotels, just pack your bags, and bring them down to the hotel lobby—we’ll move them to your next hotel while you’re out enjoying the trail. Plus, if you decide to skip the day’s walk, you can catch a lift to the next hotel along with your luggage. Problem solved!