Walking shoes: How to choose the best walking holidays
- We reveal the best companies for walking holidays
- The best walking clothes to take with you
- Choose the best walking holiday for you
- The essential walking equipment
Walking is hugely popular activity among UK travellers, who take more than 3.5 million walking holidays every year. While part of the appeal might be the simple pleasures of the countryside and fresh air, preparing for the holiday is not so simple.
There is a huge variety of travel companies offering walking holidays, several of which feature in our holiday companies survey, and an equally huge range of equipment to consider when you kit yourself out for the trip.
Which company you chose and what equipment you buy will obviously be affected by what type of walking holiday you want. There are two main types offered by holiday companies; organised groups, and unaccompanied walking holidays.
Organised walking holidays
There are several advantages to organised walking holidays if you're happy to join a group.
The tour company will help with transferring luggage, booking accommodation and planning walking routes. You'll be walking with a group of like-minded people, and being part of a group can also give you a feeling of security if you're walking in an unfamiliar or more adventurous destination.
Other advantages of joining a group walk are that you should have an expert guide who can pass on their local knowledge, and route planning is done for you so you can just enjoy the walk. They can also be great for single people. Some companies - including one of our Recommended Providers, HF Holidays - offer trips without single supplements.
However, there are downsides to being part of a group, such as having to conform to other people's walking speeds. You may also have to compromise on what you want to do to fit in with the group. Some companies, such as HF Holidays, avoid this by catering for different abilities within bigger groups.
The quality of the guides can vary, particularly as some are unpaid but are getting a free holiday in return for being a group leader. You should check the status, experience and language abilities of the guide. Overseas trips can sometimes be cancelled if all the places in the group haven't been filled.
Independent walking holidays
There is nothing to stop you arranging absolutely everything for your walking holiday on your own without using any company. But there are several companies that can help you put together a self-guided trip, including another of our Recommended Providers, Inntravel.
The advantages of these types of holidays are that they can be cheaper than group trips, you can set your own pace and itinerary, and some companies will give you walking notes that have been updated by previous customers.
The drawbacks could be that because there's no guide you could get lost, you're responsible for rearranging plans if you can't do the route you wanted for some reason (such as bad weather); and that you'll have to carry more equipment when you walk alone.
Walking holidays equipment
Once you've decided on your company and type of holiday, you need to decide what equipment to take. The company will be able to advise you on what gear you should take, but the basics you are likely to need are a waterproof jacket, walking boots, a hat and some layers of warm clothing.
Before you buy, have a look at the walking jackets we have rated Best Buys, as well as our guide to how to buy the best outdoor clothing.
If you're combining walking with bird watching, or just want a closer look at your surroundings, also check out our Best Buy binoculars.
And if you're shunning hotels for the full outdoor experience, take a look at our guide to tents.