Is an activity holiday right for you?

I have been on a number of active holidays and think they are fantastic ways to meet new people, visit places you perhaps wouldn’t get to otherwise and feel like you have ‘tested’ yourself.

A few active holidays I have tried

My first active holiday was a 50 mile trek across Jordan ending in the ancient city of Petra. This was an all-women walk, rising at 6am and walking all day in hot weather across desert-like terrain.  It taught me I could walk for long distances. However tired I felt at night when we got back to the tent, (Bedouin, hosting 45 mattresses) I could get up the next morning and do the same again. 

After that I was hooked on the Hiking and signed up to do Kilimanjaro 18 months later.  This endurance test was of a different magnitude and I decided that after feeling ill (through altitude) for four days whilst having very little sleep and walking for 20 out of 24 hours in order to summit at dawn, future holidays would be a little less demanding.

However……whilst the Inca trail was only four days, again the altitude got to me and I dragged myself through the rain, feeling miserable and sick for two of the days, only cheered up by my son (then 16) running ahead and running back to me every so often to provide moral support.

I then decided a different sort of challenge was in order and somehow persuaded one of my closest friends Nicola to sign up for a 240km cycle ride across China.  My fear of utter humiliation drove me to a rigorous training schedule over the following 12 months so I was in tip top condition for the ride.  Somehow I had overlooked the 7km hills (they felt like mountains) that were a feature of most days.  Nicola and I made it to the end, me thankful I had done the training and Nicola saying perhaps she might buy a bike as she didn’t own one!

Something less demanding

The sense of achievement at the end of these active ‘holidays’ was immense and kept me on a high for several weeks.  However, I do not feel the need to be ‘challenged’ to quite the extent I have in the past and this year opted for a Pilates holiday in Italy.

This holiday was a rejuvenating mix of Pilates (one hour in the morning and one in the early evening) with some sightseeing and an Italian cookery lesson thrown in.  In hindsight, I would have liked a few more exercise options on the days we were not sightseeing (a guided walk, water aerobics etc) and some relaxation sessions and perhaps the option to try something new.

The benefits 

If you want a holiday that’s investing in your own health and wellness I would say the benefits of activity holidays are that they enable you to:

  • master a new exercise (on my Pilates holiday some of the people were completely new to the exercise)
  • take the time to invest in your own health and wellbeing
  • meet new people
  • travel alone but with the opportunity to meet others
  • learn something new (how to make Ravioli in my case!)
  • test yourself and your endurance
  • come back fitter (maybe? the three course Italian lunches were my downfall!)
  • gain a sense of achievement 

There are a vast choice of active holidays, from white-water rafting to surfing, hiking and rock climbing. Perhaps you have been on one? If so we’d love to hear about your experiences.

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