Hiking on your vacation is an excellent way to experience the natural wonders of a destination. Even if you wouldn’t normally consider yourself a hiker, I can guarantee (okay maybe not really, but there’s a very high probability) you will see something incredible if you include a little outdoors time in your next vacation planning. This post will discuss why it is important, how you can go about it, and highlight some times it has enhanced our trips. 

Why should you include hiking on your vacation?

Okay, I might be a little biased in this answer because I love hiking. But here goes: you should include hiking on your vacation because you will see things that are unique to the place you are visiting in ways you wouldn’t be able to if you stayed inside. 

Flora (plants and stuff)

My friend G visited Bali last year and half the pictures that she shared on social media were of the incredible plants and flowers that can be found in this part of the world. Flora is amazing! And while you will be able to see some of it if you stayed indoors, it is so much cooler to see it in person. 

Waterfall in Bali
You can’t see vegetation like this inside a museum!

When we visited Everglades National Park in 2019, I was blown away by the vegetation. Did you know Everglades is essentially a river? Nope, me neither. As such, it has incredible grassy/marshy areas with lily pads where cool animals live. We were able to explore a few trails at this park to really get the feel of this area. 

Alligator at Everglades National Park
That there is a gator!

Fauna (critters and stuff)

Speaking of Everglades, it was amazing to see real live alligators hanging out just a little ways away from us. Normally there’d be a fence/glass wall dividing you from this stuff at a zoo, but just a quick hike from the car brought us up close and personal. 

One of my very favorite things about hiking in Peru was that we were in such close proximity to llamas and alpacas. One morning on the three-day-long trail I emerged from my tent and saw a bunch of llamas just hanging out right there next to us. It was surreal; free-roaming llamas, high in the Andes, just doing their thing. 

Landscape (geology and stuff)

One of the whole reasons you go on vacation is to see stuff you don’t have back home. Hiking on your vacation will get you to those places. In our hometown, we live in a high desert. We see sagebrush and the start of a mountain chain. I love it. But I also love seeing stuff other than that. 

In Iceland (and Yellowstone for that matter) we were thrilled to see geysers spewing up steam. A short walk from our tour bus parking brought us to Geysir, the hole-in-the-ground-spewing-steam that all other geysers are named after. 

Geysir geyser in Iceland
The Original OG

In Poland we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine. If you’re wondering why I’m including that in a ‘hiking on your vacation’ post, it’s because we walked a few miles underground through the enormous caves and caverns that have been dug through the earth. It was insane! 

Salt Mine near Krakow
This is underground. And made of salt.

How you can incorporate hiking on your vacation

Okay, hopefully I’ve convinced you to get outdoors on your next trip. That begs the next question of ‘how.’ One word, people: research. If you are thinking, ‘hiking just isn’t my thing,’ don’t worry. Through research you can find hikes to fit whatever activity/interest level you have.

Length/Intensity/Duration

The most important thing to look for when you are trying to find a hike is how hard it is going to be. You definitely don’t want to be miserable and end up injuring yourself if you are pushed too far. The most important thing is to know what you are comfortable with and not go past that point. 

There are all sorts of ways to get outside for most activity levels. Last weekend I found a hike a few hours away from my house that led to a waterfall. You can access it from the top of the waterfall with a five minute walk from the car or from the bottom with a mile long hike up a hill. In the Everglades, the trails we went on were ADA accessible and either paved or wood-planked. You do not have to climb Everest to get outdoors on your vacation. Don’t rule something out just because you think you can’t do it; in most cases you will be able to find a trail that meets your needs! We saw a Segway tour circling Uluru in Australia, for heaven’s sake. 

Perrine Coulee Water Fall, Idaho
This waterfall was right next to the road.

Finding trails

I love guidebooks. In most there will be a ‘nature’ section that discusses outdoor adventures. You can peruse these sections to find hikes that look good to you. Another avenue is to simply Google ‘hikes near X.’ That’s how B and I found the hiking trail we went on the North Cascades National Park area. You can also join a newsletter group on a travel website. This is how I found out about the waterfall that we visited last weekend. It was half a mile away from a town that I’ve visited hundreds of times and I never knew it existed. Check out https://www.onlyinyourstate.com to see if there are any hikes near you that you might not have heard about. 

North Cascades, Washington
Hiking in North Cascade National Park in Washington. Isn’t it pretty?

You can also use the local tourism industry to help you with your hiking planning. You’ve probably seen the information kiosks in cities you’ve visited. You can visit these and see if there are any local companies that will pick you up, drive you to the location and guide you on your hike. This really is the easiest way to add hiking to your vacation. While we were in Bali, we used a company to help us go on a sunrise hike on a volcano. Spoiler alert–we did not see the sunrise and it rained on us most of the time. It was pretty miserable. But we had the comfort of a driver and guide telling us where to go. It would have been much worse if we were trying to figure out the path and drive to the trailhead on our own. 

Hiking in the rain in Bali
No sunrise. No sun, for that matter.

It’s the experience that matters

That Bali hike is an excellent example of when hiking on your vacation goes bad. However, like most things that go wrong on vacations, I now look back on the experience and laugh. (B might need a few more years to be able to say the same.) So even if your hike doesn’t go quite as planned, it is sure to be memorable and make for a good story.

Conclusion

There are lots of things that I love about travel, but most of these can be boiled down to I like experiencing/seeing new things. And there are so many beautiful places in this world, it would be a shame not to see them just because you think you don’t like to hike. Find a trail that works for you and make it happen. Go take a hike!

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