Back-to-Back Tours Are All the Rage!
These days, everyone’s looking for ways to lower carbon footprints, conserve, recycle, and generally make a positive difference on the environment. That’s why many Country Walkers guests have chosen to take back-to-back vacations—because it’s more carbon-efficient to fly across the Atlantic once and enjoy one long trip than it is to take several shorter trips with separate gas-guzzling transatlantic flights. Not only do back-to-back trips lower your vacation’s carbon footprint, they’re also a lot of fun! “There’s so much regional diversity in Europe,” says Chris Skilling, Country Walkers Vice President of Worldwide Travel. “For example, in Italy, you’ll see different landscapes, architecture, and cuisine from region to region—and Italy has 20 regions! It’s impossible to see it all in a week.”
The Complete Experience: Pairing Guided and Self-Guided Tours
Country Walkers offers lots of flexibility with self-guided tours—it’s one of the reasons these independent vacations are so popular. When paired with a guided tour, self-guided tours are a convenient way to extend your travel and experience the most a region has to offer. While departure dates for guided tours are scheduled, Country Walkers self-guided tours have flexible start dates—so you can seamlessly add them at the beginning or end of a guided tour. Country Walkers does the logistical planning so everything is arranged for you—including top quality accommodations, transportation to and from hotels, curated walks, and exquisitely organized route notes. They start with an orientation meeting. After that, you’re free to explore independently—with 24-hour Country Walkers support if you need it. For independent exploration without all the fuss, it really is the best of both worlds!
We asked two of our experienced Country Walkers Travel Directors about their favorite self-guided tour combinations:
The Best of France, Genoa, & Cinque Terre
Tricia Dowhan has been developing Country Walkers tours for over 20 years, and she’s the expert when it comes to her first love and second home—Italy. For Italian tour pairings, Tricia says you can’t beat the France & Italy: Nice to Genoa Guided Tour followed by the Italy: Genoa & the Cinque Terre Self-Guided Tour. “These itineraries fit together seamlessly because the guided tour ends in Genoa along the Riviera Ponente—which is a bit off the beaten path, so you won’t see as many tourists there. Then the self-guided tour brings you from Genoa to the popular Riviere Levante which includes the gorgeous coast of colorful cliffside houses that made Cinque Terre famous. The beauty of seeing the well-known parts of Cinque Terre without a big group is that you can set off early and beat the crowds!”
Two Sides of Scotland
Country Walkers Travel Director Phoebe Kittredge has been developing walking and biking vacations for over 15 years—and with strong family ties to England, it truly feels like her second home. Phoebe recommends pairing the Scotland: The Highlands Guided Tour with 2023’s new Scotland: The Scottish Highlands & Cairngorms National Park Self-Guided Tour. “These two regions of Scotland just couldn’t be more diverse,” says Phoebe. “Starting in the southwest, the guided tour takes you around Loch Lomond to Glencoe, and then over to Perthshire and Glamis Castle. Then with the self-guided tour, you explore the northeast region around Loch Ness and Inverness. The landscapes are really different—it’s a great way to see the most of Scotland!”
The French & Italian Riviera
Sometimes, it makes sense to add a self-guided tour before the guided tour because of timing, location, or continuity. For example, the France: Provence & St. Rémy Guided Tour ends in the French city of Avignon—just a short train ride to Nice, where the France & Italy: Nice to Genoa Guided Tour begins. “When you combine these tours, it gives you a much deeper understanding of Provence and the French and Italian Riviera,” says Tricia. “You get the whole artist’s coast—starting in the Provençal hills that inspired Van Gogh, flowing seamlessly along the Val Nervia to the picturesque village of Dolceacqua . You’ll see why it captivated the imagination of Monet! These are among the most beautiful landscapes in Europe, if not the world.”
England by Land and by Sea
The south coast of England is a land of song and story—and spectacular coastal scenery. According to our resident United Kingdom expert, Phoebe, the beauty of combining the England: The Cotswolds Guided Tour with the England: The Cornwall Coast Self-Guided Tour is that they fit together in any order with just a short train ride. “If you’re going to England, there’s no way you can miss seeing the Cotswolds,” says Phoebe. “The quaint English villages with their sandstone buildings and thatched roofs are as quintessentially British as a cream tea with scones. Contrast that with the rugged coast of Cornwall—where you’ll find jaw-dropping ocean vistas and incredible seafood. These are two different landscapes are geographically so close, it’s a shame to miss out on either one!”
If Europe is on your bucket list of Big Trip destinations, our Country Walkers Tour Consultants are eager to help! We’ll answer questions, point you in the right direction with optional activities, sight-seeing, or tour extensions that will help you reach your goals. Just a quick call to 855.445.5617 will put you in touch with an expert Tour Consultant who will be happy to help you build a plan that ticks every box.