Planning a hiking trip in 6 easy steps

June 14, 2021 by
POSTED BY June 14, 2021

Planning a hiking trip? Summer beckons, the conditions for excursions into nature are ideal. So let’s get out there. Find out here how you can plan a hiking trip in no time at all!

# 1 – What’s the weather like?

The weather is at the center of planning a hike. It influences all further steps and decisions. Check the weather forecast and find out when the weather is best for your desired excursion. That doesn’t necessarily mean rain-free, but you should take thunderstorm warnings seriously.

This also clarifies the most important question: when should your hiking trip happen? Accordingly, you can plan overnight stays and pack your equipment.

West Highland Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Hiking Scotland – West Highland Way

# 2 – Day trip or overnight?

This question should be clarified as early as possible when planning a hike. Sleeping in nature is one of the most beautiful experiences of summer, but it requires more planning than a day trip. Also consider when the best time to stay overnight might be. It doesn’t have to be after the hike.

Sometimes it is wonderful to leave in the early evening, sleep near the hiking trail and wake up in another world the next morning and start hiking. The long days in summer help with this.


Hiking equipment: Find the basics for every hike here!


Dingle Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Views on the Dingle Way, Co. Kerry

# 3 – Alone or together?

Another essential question is who comes along on the hike. Not only because you have to adjust the time window and take various obligations into account, but also because of different needs and abilities. A group should orient itself on the weakest member and make sure that everyone can cope with the hike. Equipment should also be organized and shared.

It can make sense to split up a group temporarily. Marked circular routes often offer shorter and longer versions. Tasks such as preparing food, setting up tents, etc. can also be split up.

If you find coordination too difficult, you might be better off hiking alone. Alternatively, one person can make a plan and invite others to join in on that exact hike, or not.


Are you interested in hiking alone? Find out more here!


Walkers walking along the Great Glen Way
Hiking along the Caledonian Canal, Great Glen Way

# 4 – Far or near?

The concept of micro-adventure encourages people to look at their immediate surroundings with adventure eyes and to experience them anew. But it can also be worthwhile to take a longer journey and view it as part of the excursion. Hiking landscapes often show their most beautiful side on country roads or on the train. Picnic breaks can also set the mood for time in nature.

Hadrian's Wall Path Hillwalk Tours
Hiking Hadrian’s Wall Path

# 5 – Round trip or there and back?

Circular trails make planning hiking trips a lot easier, especially if you’re not that familiar with the area and want to go on a longer hike. This saves you having to plan your return transport. In more remote areas in particular, public transport is rare and taxis that will bring you back to the starting point should be booked in advance.

Of course, this does not apply to shorter hikes where you simply turn around and walk back the way you came.

Walking the Cornwall Coast Path, Hillwalk Tours
Hiking the South West Coast Path

# 6 – Wilderness or comfort?

Sleep

If you decide on a multi-day hiking tour with an overnight stay, the question arises as to suitable sleeping places. This, in turn, is based on your preference for comfort or wilderness and your arrival time.

Wild camping in the middle of nature is a wonderful way to escape civilization and find peace. However, it takes a lot of planning and a certain amount of flexibility. Find out whether wild camping is allowed in the corresponding hiking area and what the guidelines are. Try to leave as little trace as possible.

Sometimes you have to walk a long way to get to a suitable place. That means leaving early enough and definitely having a flashlight with you. Campsites can also sometimes be fully booked, especially on busier trails so advance booking if possible or back-up plans are important. You also need to plan two other vital things: water sources and outdoor toilets.

Either you bring enough water with you, or better: you get a water filter. This saves you the additional weight of the water. Check a hiking map or google maps to see whether there are water sources in your area.

As for the “outdoor toilet”, make sure you keep enough distance (at least 200m) from water. Bury all the clues about your stay, for example under a large rock.

Of course, you don’t have to worry about these questions at a campsite. You can also arrive here later by car or other means of transport and do not have to hike to your sleeping place first.

A hostel or B&B are of course the most comfortable alternative. They are particularly suitable if not everyone has the appropriate equipment or wants to camp. However, find out here whether beds are available in advance. Summer is often the most popular season in hiking areas, and demand is accordingly high.


Read more about sustainable hiking and Leave no Trace guidelines.


Day 5 began with a delightful breakfast with Nathalie and Annemie, two fellow Hillwalk Tours clients
Staying in a local Bed & Breakfast

Hike

When hiking, you choose the level of adventure, planning, and simplicity. While well-signposted hiking trails require little orientation and coordination, hiking to secluded peaks (especially in Ireland) requires good map reading skills.

When making your decision, also take into account the least experienced hikers in the group.

Eat

When it comes to food, the same rule of thumb applies:  the wilder it gets, the more planning you need to do.

For stays of several days in nature, it is worthwhile to bring a camping stove and various food rations. Find out more about suitable hiking snacks here.

On many long-distance hiking trails, however, you regularly come through villages where meals or food supplies can be purchased. However, if you have special eating requirements (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free), you will have to expect to often find little choice. In an emergency, trail mix always helps.

We hope that you enjoyed this guide to planning a hiking trip in 6 easy steps. If you’re interested in taking a hiking trip in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales or on the Camino, just get in touch.

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