We go on holidays for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we just need a break from the everyday routines to recharge. Sometimes we want to see something different, or have new experiences.
But equally, there are times when we want more. There are those holidays that profoundly change us as humans by exposing us to cultures and ways of life that not only enlighten us to different human experiences around the globe, but also make us consider our own lives in the light of them.
A walking holiday is a great way to experience this kind of revelatory experience.
Get to Know the People
Simply by being what it is and nothing more, a walking holiday will mean that you not only meet different kinds of people in the country you visit, but you will enjoy real interactions.
You are passing through the towns, villages and farmlands that is the country you are visiting. It is not the glitz and glamour of a capital city, not the clean and curated experience offered in areas with high tourism.
Rather, a walking holiday will allow you to get out and about and meet the real people, see the real sights and make real, long-lasting memories.
Walk in the Footsteps of History
There is something truly extraordinary in knowing that you are walking in the very footsteps of generations of people that came before you.
The modern traveler flies into a country, takes an air-conditioned train to their hotel, then rides around on a modern train network to cram in as many sights as possible. All the while however, the real history of the place is whipping past them on the other side of a windowpane.
The joy of the walking holiday is that it puts you into the landscape of history – and makes you experience it at the same pace as those who have come before you.
Take the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage for example. A network of walking routes spread across Western Europe, these trails cover hundreds of miles of countryside, hill and coastal walking.
And you are literally walking through history. Take the Camino del Norte route. This route hugs the northern coastline of Spain, including sections on the ancient Roman road Via Agrippa. You can walk this route, marveling at the natural beauty around you and knowing you are seeing exactly the same sights as Christian pilgrims or Roman Legionnaires hundreds of years ago would also have marveled at.
That is a level of connection to the history of an area that frankly, you will struggle to achieve from the top of a tour bus.
Really See a Country
The walking holiday is usually slower paced, and it often takes in parts of the country less touched by mainstream tourism. In a world where you can board a plane and be literally anywhere on the globe in 24 hours or less, this is an important distinction of the walking holiday.
In practical terms, this means that you can get into the nooks and hidden corners of the country and the culture you visit. By taking your time, you can interact with the locals, you can visit the restaurants and bars and see the sights they see – not the ones that have been cherry-picked into a guide book.
Set your own Pace
Finally, the joy of a walking holiday really lies in allowing yourself to set your own pace. So long as you research your route, you will know which towns or villages have what kind of accommodation.
It provides a real feeling of accomplishment too, that with a walking holiday you can meander into a small town, have a drink at the local bar and find a room for the night at the small tavern or family-run inn.
In a world where it is possible to pre-book every single part of a holiday from the safety of your sofa, this level of freedom, this ability to allow your holiday to unfold naturally around you, is one of the reasons a walking holiday can be a life changing one.
About the author
Rebecca is a freelance translator passionate about her work, and grateful for the travels it has taken heron. She has recently started writing about some of her experiences at RoughDraft.