How does hiking in Yellowstone, a country walking tour in Vermont, biking the boardwalks in the Everglades, exploring the rugged Rockies, or trekking across the glaciers in the Cascades in Washington sound? If you’re into even more exotic pursuits, how about a jungle safari in Thailand, or a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro? These and hundreds of other active vacations are available for people of all ages and, more important, all levels of fitness.
Active vacations are big business these days, and several reputable active travel agencies make it easy to find the vacation that’s just right for you (see “Getting Out and About” for more details). You can check out these companies on the Internet, or call to speak with their travel counselors directly.
When searching for a biking or walking vacation, look for the following:
- Trips with lengths and difficulty levels that match your interest and ability.
- Trips that give you free time to explore on your own or with others.
- Trips that provide van support for when you need a break or would prefer to take it easy that day.
- Trips that allow you to engage in as much or as little activity as you like, always at your own pace. (Trips should not be forced marches, unless that’s what you’re paying for.)
- Two or three leaders to accompany your group.
Be realistic when matching your ability with the demands of the trip. Although it may sound charming to bike from one covered bridge in New England to another, if the distance is 25 miles and you’re only capable of 15, you’re not going to be a happy camper. Look for descriptions like the following to guide your decision (this description is for a level-one walking trip offered by the company Backroads): “For those who feel comfortable walking 3–7 miles per day. Enjoying a leisurely pace is often a priority for those who choose this route level. Approximately 2–4 hours of walking per day.” In making your final decision, always speak with a representative from the company for final confirmation of your choice.
Adult camp. How’d you like to bone up on your tennis game, or take those swimming lessons you’ve always dreamed about? Now’s your chance. The number of adults going to camp has risen in the last decade, and the Web site for Grownupcamps.com has a list of over 5,000 sports and activity camps for adults with everything from tennis, golf, and biking to hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, and wilderness survival. If you don’t have Internet access, check your Sunday paper for camp or vacation listings.
Community centers. YMCAs and Jewish Community Centers are excellent resources for active day trips, two- to three-day getaways, and longer summer trips. Check your local center for what’s available.
Some people find that a charitable cause spurs them on to physical activity. Fund-raisers are nice ways to increase your physical activity and at the same time contribute to a worthy cause such as diabetes research.
Team Diabetes. Team Diabetes is a program where you team up with friends, family, and coworkers to walk or run a marathon in honor of someone who has diabetes. (Some events also offer shorter courses such as 5 or 10 kilometers or half-marathons.) It is a chance to experience the world’s most beautiful and well-known marathon courses while raising money to support diabetes research. Once you join Team Diabetes, you become part of a unique partnership with coaches from around the country who will help advise you about training for the event, whether you plan to walk or run.