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  • How to Stay Safe and Healthy on an Active Vacation

    How to Stay Safe and Healthy on an Active Vacation

Follow these tips on your next hiking or biking trip

If you’re hiking through pastures, close gates behind you and steer clear of farm animals. Walking sticks not only make footing surer, they can be deterrents in case of an encounter with an unfriendly dog.Getaways that go beyond merely lying on a beach or gently strolling around tourist sites are more popular than ever. Small-group tour companies, like Country Walkers or Vermont Bicycling and Walking Vacations, are among those that offer physically engaging trips of a lifetime.But before you embark on a hiking, biking, or other type of active vacation, plan ahead to avoid a mishap and maximize your enjoyment:

Prep for Stepping Out

If you’re a desk jockey or couch potato, don’t expect to quickly amp up your stamina. An active vacation typically involves hours of daily effort. Best to start preparing at least a month beforehand with walks, jogs, or bicycle outings a few times weekly. Your tour organizer can offer guidelines for your specific journey.

Read Instructions From Your Vacation Supplier

You’d be surprised how many people don’t. Trip documents often include a packing list. Heed it. You’ll usually need a hat, sunglasses, raingear, and flashlight. Pack gloves and layers for cold weather. Seasoned active vacationers recommend earplugs in case of drawing a hotel room with boisterous neighbors or other outside noises, getting a flashlight and GPS app for your cellphone, and carrying sanitary wipes.

Break In New Equipment

It happens time and time again. Just before departing, vacationers race to an outdoor-gear store to buy new shoes, boots, clothing, or walking poles. Then they discover they haven’t gotten the right fit or have no time to break in footwear, with blisters and discomfort to prove it. If you need new gear, try it out well before you depart.

Pack a First Aid Kit

On a group tour, guides carry supplies to handle medical emergencies. But when traveling independently or on a self-guided tour arranged by an outfitter, keep in mind the Boy Scout mantra about being prepared. That means packing bandages for blisters, more sunscreen than you think you’ll need, bug spray if the climate calls for it, an elastic wrap in case of a strain or sprain, antibiotic ointment for cuts, antacids for digestive upsets from unfamiliar food and drink, and medication for fever or aches and pains. Especially in exotic locales, it’s a good idea to carry your own all-purpose antibiotic such as Cipro. It can prevent you from being laid low by food poisoning or infections. If your medical insurance doesn’t cover you in your destination, better buy trip insurance.

Avoid Getting Lost

If you’re not traveling with a group, make sure that someone (such as the staff at that night’s hotel) knows your travel route and approximately when to expect you back. Keep the tour operator’s emergency contact number with you. Even when being led by a guide, have the address of your next lodging or stopping point just in case you get separated from the pack.

Stop, Look, and Listen

Every region has its own terrain and dos and don’ts. Know local traffic laws when biking. If you’re hiking through pastures, close gates behind you and steer clear of farm animals. Walking sticks not only make footing surer, they also can be deterrents in case of an encounter with an unfriendly dog. In urban areas, pay close attention to your belongings.

Don’t Overdo It

How exhilarating to discover new places while working your muscles! It’s tempting to push yourself on Day 1 or 2, but don’t do it. The result likely will be soreness and stiffness, which can last for days. Slow and steady make for an enjoyable vacation. In a group, don’t feel pressure to compete with more fit or experienced participants. It also is helpful to do some stretching exercises before you start your day and to take a hot bath or shower before sitting down to that well-deserved dinner.

How to Explore

On Foot

For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active, immersive, and unforgettable travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit or call 800-234-6900 for more information.

By Bike

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations offer more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 27 different countries and 10 U.S. states. They are the value leader in active biking vacations and have been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for seven years. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local trip leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities, and full van support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit or call 800-245-3868 for more information.For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection® and its affiliated properties, visit