Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Are you as excited as I am for spring? With the daffodils sprouting and more people getting vaccinated, this spring season feels doubly welcomed.
I spent a good chunk of this week talking with travel colleagues across the pond. They can’t wait to welcome us back! If you have your sights on a vacation to Ireland, be sure to let me know as I’ve had extensive conversations with travel industry leaders across their beautiful country, Northern Ireland included.
This month, we’ve been focusing on vacations that allow you to pursue sporting activities, and this week we cover destinations for hikers, walkers, and cyclists. Many people took to the trails during the pandemic for fresh air and exercise, so I expect incorporating this type of activity in future vacations will be more popular than ever.
As you can imagine, this travel type is broad, so we’ll only be able to cover a few options. If you’d like more inspiration, please schedule a consultation at www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact or simply reply to this email.
Without further ado, let’s look at vacations where you can hike, walk, and cycle.
Two of the newest trails!
Two destinations that I highly recommend once international travel returns are Chile and England. Both countries offer hiking trails and paths of incredible length.
In Chile, the “Route of the Parks” is 2,800 miles long connecting 17 national parks! The founders of North Face and Patagonia were instrumental in the creation of the parks and trail, and this effort is considered a green lung for Chile and the planet. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts must experience this incredible destination in South America.
The longest coastal path in the world will be found in England when finished. Named the “England Coast Path,” it will stretch 2,800 miles along cliffs and beaches as well as through seaside towns and major cities – amazing! The aim is to keep as close as possible to the coastline, so some parts of the trail will be more challenging to navigate than others. A local guide is your ticket to the best experience, and I’m here to help you find one as part of your larger itinerary.
Hidden Gem Tip: Italy is also working on a ‘Path of Parks’ (more a walking itinerary than a continuous trail) but will go through the Dolomites and Alps, the coastline of Cinque Terre with areas on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia too.
A Walk of Fame
Many people have heard of or perhaps contemplated the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Known as the Way of St. James, it was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the later Middle Ages. According to legend, St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried in what now is the city of Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO world heritage site.
If you’d like to take your own pilgrimage, my partners at G Adventures offer the “Walk the Camino de Santiago” eight-day itinerary. It’s the last 100 km of the route to Santiago, and you’ll enjoy Spanish food, historic sites, and picturesque countryside guided by their expert “Chief Experiences Officers.” Alternatively, for more experienced hikers, National Geographic Expeditions offers its own version of the trek starting in Pamplona (yes of bull-running fame) and ending at Santiago de Compostela. Reach out to me to learn more.
Active Vacations For All Fitness Levels
An hour well spent recently was on a Zoom presented by my wonderful partners at Backroads. Backroads has been around a long time, so there are preconceived notions about the type of travel experience they offer. It’s much broader than you might realize. Tom Hale, President and Co-Founder of Backroads says, “Active travel is, at its heart, a way of connecting more authentically with the world.”
Contrary to popular belief, Backroads acoomodates all levels of fitness. And it’s not just cycling. They have walking and hiking trips and multi-sport itineraries, including rafting, kayaking, ziplining, horseback riding, etc. Accommodations are 4 to 5-star with excellent dining experiences so you won’t be short-changing yourself after a day of active pursuits. Backroads offers adult and family itineraries with a minimum age of 4 years old.
Have a group of at least 10 people? Backroads caters to extended families, guys/gals getaways, and activity groups like your walking or cycling buddies. Whether you’re a solo, family, or group, Backroads incentivizes booking early and through a travel advisor.
Hidden Gem Tip: Backroads concurs with the advice I give – don’t DIY the US National Parks, especially during the summer months. You’ll wait in lines, deal with crowded parking lots, and only experience a small fraction of what’s available. Get beyond the tourist perimeter with a reputable guide!
New Land + Water Partnerships
Speaking of Backroads, they are in partnership with the popular river cruise line, AmaWaterways. Ama means love, and I love their flexible, active ways to explore the iconic ports along Europe’s rivers. Whether you’d like to stroll through historic Vienna or put mileage on a bike through the French countryside, Ama has multiple options in each port. Their relationship with Backroads allows them to satisfy the most active travelers. If your traveling group is split between those who are somewhat active and very active, this vacation option is for you!
I was very excited to read about Lindblad Expedition’s acquisition of international luxury cycling and adventure company DuVine Cycling +Adventure last month! In addition to top-notch cycling gear and support, DuVine provides immersive cultural experiences with local guides and an emphasis on food and wine. Love sailing? You can find itineraries that offer both cycling and sailing! DuVine’s destinations include Europe, the US, Latin America, Asia, and Africa!
The Great Walks of Australia
As an Aussie Specialist, I love the land down under (lucky to have been there a couple of times), and on my next trip, I’m planning to do one of the Great Walks of Australia. The walks are a collection of guided, multi-day walking experiences led by an expert guide. You’ll hear stories about the land and culture as you trek along the beautiful pathways.
UNESCO world heritage islands, the Australian Outback, volcanic plateaus of Queensland, Tasmanian beaches, and the spectacular coastline of Western Australia are some of the possibilities. I work with incredible travel suppliers in Australia with deep roots in the country. No matter what route you hope to take or other activities you’d like to add-on, they’re able to work with me to create your ideal itinerary. Maximizing your time is extremely important when flying to the other side of the globe. Since I’ve done it twice, I can attest to this fact. There’s never enough time!
Inspired? If you’re ready to learn more vacations where you can hike, walk, and cycle, here’s the direct link to my calendar to schedule a chat: https://calendly.com/hiddengemtravelconsulting/45min
Wishing you and your family continued good health,