1. Get a copy of the day-by-day itinerary. Some walking vacations are really hiking tours: You’ll spend the day entirely on trails, far from amenities like toilets or even restaurants. Others may involve village or city walks, museums, pub lunches. Not everyone wants to spend all day in the woods; others crave the silence and rejuvenation of an all-nature tour. A general description of a tour can give you a feel for what it will cover, but the only way to know exactly what you’ll be doing is to read the actual itinerary.
2. Check the terrain and mileage. Some tour companies focus on walking, which means you will be mostly on country roads or even sidewalks and you won’t have a lot of elevation changes. Others combine walks and hikes. And some are strictly hiking. Be sure you know what you’re signing up for so you can spend time preparing yourself for the challenge. Ask for the average mileage as well as the longest day of walking. Most tours average 5-9 miles spread out over a day, which is comfortable for folks who walk regularly for exercise. Ten to 16 miles can be a challenge. You’d need more preparation, like practicing longer walks or hikes on weekends.
3. Find out where you’ll be staying—and for how long. Some walkers love the adventure of inn-to-inn tours, where you walk to a new inn each day. Others want to have a “home-away-from-home” they can return to each night, belongings unpacked for the duration. If you’re moving on, someone should be picking up your bags so that they are waiting in your new room at the end of your day. Walking inn to inn is a great adventure. But you need to be willing to face a new mattress every night.
4. Know what you’re paying for and what’s extra. Some tours are all inclusive. Others may only provide some of your meals. Sometimes entertainment is optional, too. That information should be listed in your brochure or on the tour operator’s website. If not, ask.