One of the most attractive elements of walking is its simplicity - just the world and your own two feet. Almost. For such a simple pastime, it's surprising just how many things can go awry! The good news is that by being aware of the common mistakes beginners make, you can easily avoid them and have a walking holiday thats memorable for all the right reasons.
Not preparing well enough
Proper preparation is the foundation for a good walking holiday; without it, sore muscles, aching feet and shoulders, and walks that feel more arduous than enjoyable are likely to await you.
Fortunately, training for a walking holiday is rewarding in itself, so embrace it as part of your overall trip. Before beginning, ensure you understand how strenuous your hike will be, the average length and strenuousness of your daily hikes, and the level of overall fitness you will need. This will give you an accurate target to aim for; then you can start your training plan. Typically, you will need to do so at least 3 months in advance.
Choosing too ambitious a route
Choosing a route that far outstrips your abilities does not make for a good holiday but its actually easy to achieve a balance between giving yourself a challenge and paving the way for a poor walking experience.
There are just a few things to remember. Firstly, you dont need to be as fit as your walking holiday demands when you book as long as you are confident you can achieve that level of fitness by the time your trip arrives. Secondly, dont attempt a trip that would tax even experienced hikers such as the entire 2,168-mile long Appalachian Trail. The vast majority of hikers pick a manageable section to tackle instead over the course of several days or a few weeks something that provides a rewarding, unforgettable hike.
Of course, one of the most appealing elements of walking is the chance to get back to nature. However, as tempting as it is to make this experience all the more peaceful by going alone, this really isnt a good idea for long hikes through unspoiled wilderness. For the sake of safety, you will need someone experienced with you on your first walking holiday; not only will they be able to help if anything goes wrong, but you will be able to pick up plenty of useful tips for future hikes.
Wearing new shoes
There is nothing wrong with investing in new shoes for your hike, indeed having appropriate footwear is essential, and for many people going on their first walking holiday, this necessitates a few purchases. However, what you dont want to do is wear your new footwear for the first (or even second or third) time on your hiking holiday.
Hiking boots need to be well broken in before actually being used for serious hikes, otherwise they can cause blisters and rub painfully neither of which makes for happy feet or a happy holiday! So, start breaking your footwear in as early as you can, remembering to wear them around the house for a while first to make sure they really are as good a fit as they seemed in the shop.
Wearing the wrong clothing
Clothing doesnt need to be broken in, but it does need to be right. Go for a hike in jeans and you will soon see why not only is denim an inflexible fabric that can restrict your movement, but it is also made of cotton, which retains moisture and leaves sweat next to the skin. This is not only uncomfortable, but can make you dangerously cold.
So, visit a reputable outdoors shop and invest in appropriate hiking trousers that are breathable and dry fast, as well as layers including a warming base layer and a waterproof jacket.
Not checking the weather
While a little rain wont bring a hike to a halt, more extreme weather conditions, such as strong winds, thunderstorms or blizzards should. Safe hiking, especially along tricky terrain, demands good visibility and the avoidance of unnecessary risks, a prime example of which is staying out of bad weather. For example, anyone walking along mountain ridges is particularly vulnerable to lightning during storms so if a storm is predicted in your area, stay put until it has passed.
Hopefully, stretching is a habit you will have got into while training, which means it will be second nature during the hike itself. However, given that you will be in utterly amazing surroundings and having the time of your life, it is easy to forget the basics. Making an effort to remember will help ensure that you wont begin a days hike with aching, inflexible muscles something that can make all the difference to how much you enjoy your walking holiday.
Now you know what not to do