BY Pallavi Pinakin
One of the best ways to plug into a new destination is to put on your comfy shoes and start walking. Being on foot enables you to connect and interact with the local people, culture and nature in meaningful ways.
The fitness benefits are an added bonus – you clock your required number of steps and keep that inevitable holiday weight gain to a minimum.
And in this ‘new normal’ era, walking gives you the advantage of being out in the open air, which is the safest way to experience the joys of travel. Here are some pointers to enrich your walking holidays.
SCENIC ROUTE If you stick to taking taxis, metros or buses, there’s so much you will miss out on. Entire neighbourhoods will zip by in seconds and remain undiscovered. On the other hand, walking forces you to slow down, look around and smell the roses, ramen or rambutan – depending on where you are.
Allocate time to explore those winding side streets, peek into intriguing shop windows, and check out under the radar restaurants and drinking holes that rarely make it into a mainstream tourist brochure.
GUIDED WALKS While guided bus tours have been around for decades, guided walks are increasingly available in many countries. They offer a viable and exciting alternative to visiting tourist sites. You have the option of setting out with an established tour operator or be shown around by an independent local resident, which is a great way to support ethical community-based tourism.
Browse websites such as Like A Local, Withlocals or I Like Local to find a walk that’s up your street so to speak. For budget travellers, nearly every major tourist destination offers free sampler walking tours to give you a taste of the experience. If you find it worthwhile, sign up for more comprehensive paid walks.
BE PREPARED A pleasant walk calls for a few essentials such as a comfortable pair of shoes and breathable socks to protect your feet, and a lightweight flask for water to stay hydrated.
Before you set off for the day, be sure to stretch, charge your phone and save an offline map of the area you plan to visit. Getting lost can be fun only if you’re confident of making your way back safely!
Check with the concierge, hotel manager or BnB host if there are any neighbourhoods you should avoid – local advice is better than anything you’ll find online.