Self guided walking advice

Getting started tip

Steve Clifford from our supplier Catalan Adventures gives good self guided walking travel advice:
“The first thing is to do your research. Make sure the grade of the walking vacation is suitable for you: if the vacation grade is 6 hours of walking with 2000ft plus of accumulative ascent each day and you're used to 2 or 3 hours walking over relatively flat terrain then you need to question whether this vacation is for you. You also need to take the temperature into consideration. You may be used to walking that distance in Scotland in May; however, for example, in the south of Spain at the beginning of September it could be 30+ degrees. Book with a tour operator that has 24/7 support.“

Trekking tips

Christine Kieffer, from our supplier Itinerance Trekking in the Mercantour National Park of France: “It is very important to use an expert local company to give you guidance. If you are not experienced in the mountains, you need good advice about the paths. Very often, the IGN maps are very good but in reality the path might have collapsed. In the old days, there was public funding for this, but not so much anymore. Going with a private company means that you will have the up-to-date information about the walks, the most beautiful routes, and the best accommodation.“

Packing tips

Melanie McAnaw walking vacation expert from our supplier, Headwater:
“The reason I choose self-guided walking is so that I can go at my own pace. When I’m on vacation I enjoy a leisurely breakfast (late!!) and then I like to stop off for as many photo opportunities as I like – without feeling like I’m holding anyone up! My top tip is never forget your camera – you spot so many great shots when you are out walking.“

Steve Clifford from our supplier Catalan Adventures is our man in Catalonia for giving good self guided walking travel advice: “Your most important item is, of course, a pair of comfortable walking boots with ankle support if possible and a sole that provides grip. Always pack a waterproof jacket and waterproof bottoms if possible. I'm still surprised by the amount of people who come here without waterproofs. In Catalonia you will mostly be walking in dry warm weather; however, it does rain from time to time and when it does it can be a very heavy, almost a tropical downpour. You need casual, comfortable walking clothes, and lots of layers are good. A hat and sun protection cream are essential and you'll need a small rucksack for carrying lunch and water. Any reputable tour operator should provide you with a kit list based on the time of the year you're arriving.“

Our top Self guided walking Vacation

Portugal walking tour

Portugal walking tour

Self guided walking tour in Portuguese Schist Villages

From 1029 to2229 8 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Self guided walking or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Health & safety


Make sure you stay hydrated. It is hard to get kids to drink water sometimes, but they won’t realise how much they need it when walking. Even if the sun isn’t shining. Consider hydration backpacks so that they always have water on them. On a hike in remote, wilderness areas, don’t drink from the rivers. Always carry your own water. Even if they are glacial and gorgeous, they can be a source of bacteria. You can boil the water, but do so for five minutes in elevated areas. You can also filter, but it is not always perfect, with iodine treatments considered better. Be wary of touching animals while hiking, especially wild cats and dogs, as rabies is still prevalent in many countries. Consult your doctor or travel clinic before remote walking vacations - they may be able to prescribe antibiotics and antidiarrhoeal medication to take with you, as well as recommending other items such as antihistamines, rehydration salts and medication for altitude sickness. And have a basic first aid kit too. Even if it is cool in the mountains, the sun can still be very strong so always wear sunscreen. Inform yourself in advance about any dangers from wildlife. Or insects such as ticks which carry Lyme disease. Make sure you carry tweezers so that you can remove them and be sure to inspect your bodies carefully at the end of the day. Always apply a deterrent (a natural one is best for children such as lemon eucalyptus) and then sun cream. Read this guide for top tick tips. Never eat berries or plants that you spot on your hikes unless you have been thoroughly trained to identify them.


Walking vacations are a good opportunity to learn how to be Scouts again. It's great to share this with children too. Be prepared with maps, compass, rain gear, pocketknife, matches and a whistle. You can buy mini emergency kits on eBay cheaply. Write down the local emergency numbers before you set out, including mountain rescue, if relevant. And always tell someone where you are going. Make sure your mobile phone is charged too. Be wary of lightning storms and, if they do occur, get below the treeline and stay away from summits or isolated trees. Stay as low as you can. One of the most common causes of mountain rescue is hypothermia usually brought about by exhaustion and injury. So make sure you have enough food and water and the right layers. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland is a font of knowledge on all things. If you are on a self guided walking vacation, always get a detailed weather forecast before you set out and if you are in the mountains, turn back if the weather turns bad. The World Meteorological Organisation is excellent. Hiking in extreme heat can be dangerous and, tragically, deaths do occur. Some vacation companies in very hot climates don't offer trips in the height of summer anyway. But if the weather does turn very hot, always walk early in the morning and late in the afternoon, cover up and drink lots. Consider adding rehydration powders to your water for extra salts and sugars that help your body cope with the heat.

Vacation reviews from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful self guided walking advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
People may want to take knee supports - one of the walks had a lot of steps!
– Janet Fung
“Bring telescopic walking sticks. The others in the group looked sceptical when I brought them along but they really helped going up and downhill on every walk. Bring easy dry trousers but especially ones were you can unzip the bottom legs. This was ideal for when the bugs got too much. A Thermos came in useful as I like a hot drink mid-morning and afternoon.“ – Andrew Reid Wildman on a walking vacation in the French Alps

“If you're a radio addict, check that there is one in each of the staying-over places or you'll need to take with you.“ – Isabel Clare on a Pilgrims’ Way self guided walking vacation

“Learn a bit of Spanish! As with everywhere in the world, people are really pleased when you have a go“ – Mike Muir on a Picos de Europa self guided walking vacation

“The key thing is to be adaptable. We were lucky with the weather, which was consistently good for the week we were there (mid-August) but it is not always perfect even in summer. However, the tour operator provides a choice of routes in getting from one rest place to another, and this flexibility is a huge advantage.“ – Nick Lampert on our family self guided walking vacation in the Mercantour National Park, France
Bring your binoculars to help you spot the many different species of birds, butterflies, insects and other animals which you are sure to spot
– Alison Hart
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Thomas Schweighofer] [Getting started tip: Sophie Higginbottom] [Trekking tips: dreamypixel] [Health & Safety: Roy Luck] [Janet Fung quote: Phil Coffman] [Alison Hart quote: Pawel Janiak]