July 31, 2014

Walking Tours Offer Affordable Way to See the World

During our time in northern Italy, David and I skipped the expensive gondola rides to explore the side canals and window balconies of Venice on foot, making our way to St. Markís cathedral via the Rialto Bridge. The bargain paninis (grilled Italian sandwiches) we found at a street-side shop were a bonus. Seeing destinations on foot is a great way to save money on the road, and there are many world class walking tours available around the world. Following are some tips and tricks for regularly including this activity on your vacation itineraries.

Family:

The City Walks with Kids series by Chronicle Books has child-friendly activity cards with maps for city walking tours around the world, including London, Paris, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Digital professional Julie Rains is a fan of family hiking. She and her family have enjoyed the Alum Cave and Rainbow Falls trails of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, as well as hiking to the Leconte Lodge, an off-the-grid hotel in Sevierville, Tennessee only reachable by foot or helicopter. Family experiences on foot are also possible when camping in Shenandoah National Park, including Rapidan Camp and a number of child-appropriate trails.

Resources:

The right gear is critical to a successful walking experience, particularly when it comes to footwear. Max Levitte of Cheapism.com, a value product review site, recommends both the New Balance 760 walking shoe and the Keen Voyageur hiking shoe.† The footwear is available in the $80 – $100 range. Gpsmycity.com offers downloadable iPhone walking tours to cities around the world for less than $5. Options include a Belgian beer tour in Brussels and a sight-seeing walking tour in Berlin. Sometimes the city itself provides resources for travelers who want to see the destination on foot. For example, those touring Boston have access to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which winds through attractive portions of the city in a pedestrian-friendly way.

Heritage:

Whether traipsing around Romeís Piazza Navona, or touring the sponge docks and Greek neighborhood of Tarpon Springs, Florida, street strolling lets you soak up local culture. Walking tours in Ybor City, Tampaís Latin quarter, provide a peek back in time to the cityís Cuban cigar trade, and the opportunity to enjoy a Cubano in the city where the sandwich was invented. Itís one of several walking tours in Tampa Bay that both locals and tourists have at their disposal. Similarly, strolling through the historic districts of Quito, Ecuador and St. George, Bermuda provide free access to two UNESCO world heritage sites along with extensive photo ops. Spainís Camino De Santiago and the Appalachian Trail in the United States each provide a time-honored long-distance experience allowing for personal reflection.

Photo Credit: Pictures of Travel Places

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