Its important to prepare for your hiking holiday in order to ensure you have the best possible time. After all, you dont want to find yourself unable to enjoy a spectacular view of the planet, that few before you have ever seen, simply because youre wet, tired, uncomfortable and it feels like the soles of your feet are on fire!
If youd like your hiking holiday to be a success, its necessary that you pick the right equipment and have realistic expectations of what you can achieve given the level of fitness you hope to have when you depart. Here are our top tips to help you get the most out of your hiking holiday, which will hopefully give you the mental and physical tools youll need to have a beautiful and rewarding experience..
Getting the right shoes is key
Having well-fitting hiking boots that offer you plenty of support and have been worn several times beforehand will make a huge difference to your journey. Few hikers would leave their resort in brand new shoes, purchased for the occasion, but those who are considering hiring boots from a sports shop, might want to consider that these shoes have been worn in to suit other peoples feet. They may, therefore, have the same effect, as entirely new shoes.
While were talking about our feet, which, in our opinion, is one of the most important considerations when planning a hiking holiday, given the pressure youll be putting them under, lets take a look at how to avoid blisters and deal with them should they appear. Marathon runners swear by the use of two pairs of socks. In this way, the material rubs against material, rather than your skin. If you dont fancy this, purchasing good quality, purpose-designed hiking socks will stand you in good stead.
Its essential to keep your feet dry whilst out walking to avoid chafing and discomfort, but should an unexpected deluge or puddle appear, youll be glad of the spare pair of dry socks you kept in your bag! If despite your best efforts a blister does appear, its going to inevitably make your walk less fun and slow you down. Talcum powder is widely believed to reduce the irritating effects of blisters and redness, but having a plaster or bandage to hand will also prove to be a life-saver!
Dress for the occasion
Even in areas known for their round the year heat, the weather can be changeable, when you gain a higher altitude. If youre planning to climb steep valleys or even a mountain, having lightweight waterproofs that pack away into a small space could prove to be useful!
If where youre going is known for its cold climate, taking a big coat may be an obvious choice. However, practically speaking more layers and a smaller coat might suit you better. Dont underestimate the physical exertion you may experience and how much this level of exercise could heat you up. If youre going to more comfortable removing your coat, you dont then want to be carrying the heavy item in your arms. You could always wear some layers and carry more with you. Make sure any clothes you take with you are kept dry in any weather by putting them in a plastic bag.
Your hike might be arranged via your resort, as a day trip that includes your own personal hiking guide, which means just about everything you need will be provided. However, its worth knowing the equipment you should have with you in case you get separated from the main group.
A good guide will carry maps, compasses, a first aid kit and tweezers for removing ticks. Should you get separated from everyone else, youll be glad of that whistle and small torch you bought to get their attention, as well as that pack of matches, food and water. All hikers will benefit from having sunglasses on them, as well as wearing sunscreen, whatever the weather, as you never know when youre going to be exposed to bright sunshine. These are items your guide would expect you to provide for yourself. Additionally, you might also want to bring walking poles with you. These can significantly reduce pressure on your knees and help you walk further, in more comfort.
One last item you might want to consider taking with you is a bit of cash. Its unlikely youll be going shopping half way up a mountain, but you might want to tip someone who helps you out, should you run into difficulty.
The fitter you are, the easier youll find your hike; the more enjoyment youll get out of it. Its that simple. Dont stumble after the first mile because you find it too tiring. Instead build up your stamina in the months prior to your hiking holiday. Take regular walks, steadily increasing the distance. Carrying a rucksack on your back while you train, will further ready you for the trip to come. Make sure you walk on lots of different terrains too, as your hike almost certainly wont be restricted to grass or concrete.
As well as walking, improving your general fitness level through a mixture of sports and stretching activities, such as yoga or pilates, will use a greater range of muscles and make you less likely to experience a muscle tear or injury on your holiday.
When youre hiking far from your resort, in unknown territory with a challenging terrain, its important to face the possibility that something can go wrong and be prepared for when it does. Ensure you have essential emergency numbers and a phone on you, should you have to call for help. Also, leave the details of your route and guide with somebody at your accommodation, or someone back home.
You may find it useful to memorise a few phrases in the language of your host country, should you have to make yourself understood in an emergency situation. Also, familiarise yourself with the route beforehand if possible. This will give you a sense of the area in which youll be walking, so should you become lost, youll know which landscape features can be found nearby
Always check the weather forecast before you set off, if you dont have a guide to do it for you. Hiking in very hot temperatures is not advised and thunder and lightening storms are to be avoided. Should you find yourself in an unexpected storm, whilst out hiking, try and keep low to the ground and away from any isolated structures, summits or trees.
Basic health and safety
Keeping yourself hydrated throughout your hike, particularly in warm weather and at higher altitudes, is one of the most important safety measures you can take. Its not advised to drink from rivers or standing water that you may come across due to the potential bacterial risk this may present. Additionally dont eat any plants or berries along the way.
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date and if you have any health concerns, make sure your guide is aware of anything that could affect your hike. Wildlife should be treated with respect. Dont put your hand out to anything that may bite you in case you have a reaction far from help and obviously keep away from bears, large predators and snakes. Keep children close by and in sight.
If you follow these tips, your hiking holiday experience should be enhanced. Here at Aspen Travel we book a lot of different hiking holidays on behalf of globally renowned tour operators, who will provide you with professional guides tasked with guarding your safety. One of our particular favourites is Hiking in a thin country a walking tour of Chile. This fascinating trip will take you on a stroll in and around the city of Santiago, along the steep terraces of Valparaiso, into the remote hills of Patagonia, past the lakes of the National Park of Torres del Paine, up the Grey Glacier through the salt mountains of the Atacama Desert and into the lunar landscape of the Moon Valley. Its an experience quite like any other.
Taking part in a challenging hike as part of a day excursion, with a knowledgable tour guide, is possible at many of our resorts. To find out about hiking through Moroccos Atlas Mountains, the frozen terrain of Iceland or the varied landscape of New Zealand please get in touch with the Aspen Travel team. Well be able to advise you on hiking possibilities within the country you want to visit, as well as help you get the resort and package that best suits your travel preferences. Please get in touch.