Walking / hiking vacation - Can you help me figure out how to do this?
December 23, 2017 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I have a very odd set of vacation requirements that I would love some help with! I'd like to take a vacation for the next two weeks somewhere in the world where I can walk or hike for 8 hours a day, but sleep in a bed most nights and have access to internet every day. My partner wants a feeling of "lock-in" like you get on a backpacking trip, where you have to keep walking to get to the next place. Can you help us find something that works?

I have tons of frequent flyer miles and hotel points, so we really can go anywhere if needed. Budget (within reason) is also not an issue. We're both physically fit and can hike instead of walk if needed.

- Reasonable cell/internet coverage so I can stay connected every day and check email
- Sleep in a bed most nights
- Somewhere above freezing, and ideally above 40ish degrees and not usually raining
- Some creative way to motivate my partner and build that feeling of lock-in, so he feels like he has to keep walking and can't hang out all day in the hotel

One idea: Walk all of the parks in a city or near a city that's warm
Another idea: Walk up a state, like Florida, or across a state, like Louisiana
A third idea: Hike the lower part of the Appalachian Trail (?)
A fourth idea: Hike the Santiago de Compostela (?)

It's kind of like this question, but adds a weather constraint for winter and relaxes the US constraint.

Thank you so much for your suggestions!
posted by 3491again to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
You, my friend, should walk the Harzer Hexenstieg in the Harz mountains.

Bah, sorry I just noticed you said in the next two weeks. Sorry.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:06 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks anyway, humboldt32. It looks great. I'll definitely keep it in mind if I do a similar summer trip. Anyone near the equator or in the Southern hemisphere have an equivalent in South America, Africa, Australia, Asia?
posted by 3491again at 12:10 PM on December 23, 2017

You can do the final two weeks of the Camino but the weather could be a big problem....research definitely required on that. Also, hotels would increase the cost considerably.
posted by bquarters at 12:18 PM on December 23, 2017

See Great walks of Australia, especially their seasonal guide. The whole north and centre is out in December/January but Tasmania is not yet too hot at this time of year. If money was no object, I'd pick a selection from the Great Walks of Tasmania with a couple of days either side to enjoy the delights of Hobart [please don't judge Hobart by that official tourism website. It's friendlier and more visually attractive in real life.

Or perhaps Sri Lanka?
posted by Thella at 12:27 PM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

If you would be okay with swapping hiking with cycling, Taiwan is supposed to be great for that and the weather is good at this time of year. The east coast is beautiful.
posted by asphericalcow at 12:55 PM on December 23, 2017

Andalucia or Malta both likely have lodge to lodge offerings which would suit your needs. There would be lovely options in Vietnam, but it would be unlikely to offer nightly Internet access.
posted by frumiousb at 12:56 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

My stepfather once did exactly this on Peloponnesus in Greece. I think it was great, but I don't know about internet, you'd have to research that.
posted by mumimor at 12:58 PM on December 23, 2017

I walked the Portuguese route of the Camino this summer and if you're willing to stay in pilgrim and youth hostels, it could be an option. Internet was available most nights. If you're paying for hotel rooms, it'd probably be better. I'm not sure what services are like in winter, however.
posted by ceramicblue at 1:18 PM on December 23, 2017

There are companies that support your hiking trip by carrying your luggage to the hotel for the next night each day, which makes you pretty locked in to walking there. I'm not sure what the most common name is for that style, or what to Google for, but here is one that I found with a trip to Patagonia coming up - https://www.wildlandtrekking.com/patagonia-treks/patagonia-lodge-based.html
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:16 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

My dream trip. Dunno about the Internet part but there are travel firms that feed you morning and night then send you off with lunch as you hike from one lovely spot to the next. There are beds. It is pricey. Lots of walks in New Zealand, this is just the most famous.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:07 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

No specific suggestions for 2 weeks from now, but the term you want to search for is "inn to inn hiking".
posted by gatorae at 7:10 PM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

As far as Florida: You could walk the Keys if you don't mind highway walking and bug bites, but you'll have places to stay and eat. The Florida Trail might be an option, that area is pretty remote though. (Never done these, lots of east coast beach walking though, which I think could be another option but I don't have an itinerary)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:21 PM on December 23, 2017

You could perhaps do one of the pilgrimages that end you at Mont Saint Michel in Normandy or Bretagne. While it would be chilly it wouldn't be likely to drop below freezing much. It's a fairly common thing and it works with companies bringing ahead your bags to the next "gîtes" or "inns" each day/night. (And thus you sleep ina bed each evening). I'm trying to find better information in English but this might be a start: https://www.lescheminsdumontsaintmichel.com/spip/spip.php?rubrique21&lang=en
posted by raccoon409 at 7:42 PM on December 23, 2017

The Camino will be cold and probably raining - fyi, not recommended for your weather requirements. Thought about finding something in coastal California? Probably central or southern coast would be best for your weather preference.
posted by Toddles at 8:54 PM on December 23, 2017

The John Muir Way in Scotland might fit the bill? Not sure what the weather is like this time of year however.

posted by forkisbetter at 9:22 PM on December 23, 2017

Try the Torres del Paine in Chile. You can glamp with an outfitter, or stay at public campsites with hot showers. Bonus: it’s summer there!
posted by monotreme at 10:33 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

South Africa has a ton of options for this. The key word is "slackpacking," which describes long distance hikes in which somebody else transports your gear from overnight stop to overnight stop. The arrangements can be super rustic up to somewhat luxurious, but accommodation is generally in cottages/bnbs/farmstays, and breakfasts and dinners might or might not be provided for you. Most of the ones I know are 4-6 days long, which might be good - you can see two completely types of scenery, and maybe throw in Cape Town for a few days in between. I know you said budget isn't a huge issue but once you're here, South Africa is very affordable for this type of travel.

Some of the most well known 5-6 day hikes are the Otter Trail, the Whale Trail, Giant's Cup Trail, Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail, Dolphin Trail, Fanie Botha Trail - I could go on for days but you get the idea. It's summer, warm and dry in the Western Cape, probably warm and a bit rainy in other parts of the country. I haven't done all of these hikes but I've found cell coverage in South Africa to be pretty good and you certainly won't go a full day without crossing through a few areas with coverage, but you probably can't count on having cell service at your overnight destinations (usually you can walk up a hill and manage to download emails). One thing to keep in mind is that these trails are tightly capacity controlled and some of the more popular ones book up way ahead of time, so you might need to either join a hiking club or outfitter that's already reserved permits for your dates, or just check out some of the lesser-known options.

If you decide to stay closer to home, Guatemala is also warm and dry this time of year and has a few long-distance hikes I can speak to. You could start with the five day El Mirador hike, which is fairly easy walking through the steamy jungle to see partially excavated Mayan ruins - at the moment, the only way to see these is to take a helicopter ride or do the full hike. Your stuff is transported on donkeys, food is prepared and provided for you, and you sleep in established, permanent campsites. This is rustic and not the best organized operation, and the hiking itself is fairly monotonous (though you can sometimes see some cool wildlife) but the payoff is pretty special. Then, move on to the western highlands (completely different scenery and vibe) and hike five days through the mountains and tiny rural towns from Nebaj to Todos Santos, staying with families along the way and seeing some very off-the-beaten-path memorials of the civil war and its rural massacres. You would probably have no trouble joining one of these hikes in the next couple weeks - book Mirador through the Colectiva Carmelita and Nebaj-Todos Santos through Quetzaltrekkers. I think that overall South Africa gives a better hiking experience than Guatemala, trails are clean and well-maintained and uncrowded, scenery is spectacular, and accommodation and food are of a higher standard, but most South African hiking trails lack the cultural and historic context that is embedded everywhere in Guatemala.
posted by exutima at 12:03 AM on December 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

Seconding the Great Walls of Australia. Not all have good Internet access but some do. I did the Bay of Fires walk this year and it makes to a lot of what you're looking for (although very little Internet access - but others are fully connected).

Full disclosure: until 12/31 I'm an employee of Tourism Australia. But I'd recommend the Great Walls regardless.
posted by rednikki at 1:13 AM on December 24, 2017

I second the suggestion for Torres del Paine, but you may have a hard time booking the refugios (hostel type accommodation) at this late hour. I did the full circuit in about nine days a few years ago and it was spectacular. I camped the whole time so didn't have to worry so much about reservations in advance. It does take a lot of travel time to get to Torres del Paine, but it's totally worth it. You won't get cell or wifi signals, except maybe on one of the locations. It is proper hiking though and you will need to carry your gear.

More accessible is the Rota Vicentina in Portugal. Kind of like the Camino but less traveled and far less road walking. You can pick the segments that appeal to you (I recommend anything on the Fisherman's trail). I did five days with a friend going from inn to inn and it was super easy since we ate in restaurants and packed lunches from bakeries and grocery stores, plus lots of great vinho verde at night. We carried small backpacks with our clothes but there are luggage services that take your things from point to point, or you can usually bail on a segment and take a taxi to the next village. I'm not sure how cold it will be in January, but the weather was plenty warm when we were there in March.

Have a fabulous hike!
posted by perrouno at 3:01 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

No specific suggestions for 2 weeks from now, but the term you want to search for is "inn to inn hiking".

Nthing this. I've bucket-listed a couple of companies that will do this for you - they're mostly in the UK, so it won't help your specific case now, but the idea is indeed that you start in one place and go to the next town on your list, and the company you've paid will drive your stuff to the next inn for you, so when you get to the next town, you go to a specific inn and your stuff will be there waiting. You check in, spend the night, then pack in the morning and give your bags to the tour operator, and then you start walking to the next town while they port your bags to the next inn. Etc.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:07 AM on December 24, 2017

Japan could be a good option. You can get a wifi hotspot for about $5/day with unlimited internet that works pretty much everywhere. Japan is also dotted with ryokans, traditional inns with futons and often great bathing amenities. Read up about the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails and Walk Japan.
posted by kepano at 4:25 PM on December 29, 2017

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