We’re a couple of weeks into 2014 now, and chances are you’ve made a few resolutions. I’ll even go as far as to wager that you’ve been considering ways to improve your health and fitness over the coming year. But the gym can get boring after a while and classes become repetitive, so why not combine the desire to get fit with your love of travel with my second travel resolution suggestion?
#2. Add an active challenge to your travel bucket list.
Some of the best adventures require more than a little bit of exertion, but once you’ve reached your goal you find that the rewards greatly outweigh the effort put in. So whether your thing is running, hiking, biking or swimming, here are 5 ideas to get out and get fit.
1. Run. Marathon running has become a phenomenon in recent years, with dozens of races taking place each month around the world. After dedicating the time to training, you want to have a memorable experience, and entering a destination marathon is an opportunity to travel, often to places you’ve never considered visiting before.
Running is a fantastic way to get to know an area. For one thing, you see more of a city than you would driving through it, and experience more trails than walkers do. Some marathons have themes based on local history, or focus on a well-known landmark or stunning natural scenery. You can search for upcoming races on marathonguide.com, and here are a few to spark your interest:
- Baikal Ice Marathon, Russia, in early March crosses the frozen lake in the depths of a Siberian winter.
- Big Five Marathon, South Africa, in June gives the chance to spot the big 5 of African wildlife on the savanna.
- Loch Ness Marathon, Scotland, in September boasts a mythical monster and stunning scenery.
2. Hike. There’s just something about being in the mountains, the feeling of being in a high place, savouring the view, that makes reaching the summit of a peak a bucket list must-do for many. Whilst there are plenty of places to take a train or cable car to the top, challenging yourself to hike to the top will give you an immense sense of accomplishment. It’s always advisable to be prepared for the mountains, with good skills and the right equipment, but you don’t have to be Kenton Cool, or spend thousands of pounds joining organised expeditions for an unforgettable experience. Here are a few suggestions for challenging but achievable hikes:
- Tongariro, New Zealand. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a popular one-day tramping route that takes in the 1,978m (6,490 ft) peak.
- Tryfan and the Glyderau, Wales. Far less busy than Snowdon and far more beautiful. The highest point is the summit of Glyder Fach at 944m (3,189 ft).
- Jebel Toubkal, Morocco. The 4,167m (13,671 ft) peak is usually completed as a 2-day hike.
3. Swim. Wild swimming has seeing a bit of a resurgence in recent years, as people try to recapture the feeling of freedom that’s squeezed out by the chlorinated water and chipped tiles of their local leisure centre pool. For some, slipping into a river or lake is an almost spiritual experience, after all, as Heraclitus pondered, you never step in the same stream twice. Make your love of swimming into a bucket-list fitness challenge by entering one of many open-water swimming events that take place around the world, such as:
- Flowers Sea Swim, Cayman Islands, 5 k and 10k
- Bosphorus Cross-continental Swim, Turkey. 6.5km
- Little Red Lighthouse swim, New York. 10.2km of the Hudson river
4. Bike. Cycle touring gives you the opportunity to explore places at your own pace, with a level of freedom and spontaneity unlike any other forms of travel. You travel at a slower tempo, connecting more with your surroundings, the towns you pass through, and the people you meet. It draws you into living in the present, feeling the moment, the rhythm of the bike pushing out the trivial things that cloud your mind and diminish your experience. The following locations have a great set up for cycle tourists, whatever level of challenge you’re looking for:
5. Paddle. There are few places better to experience the magnificence of nature than being on the sea in a small boat. Sea kayaking can give you a seal’s-eye-view of some of the most spectacular coastlines of the world, and the chance for a close-up encounter with some amazing wildlife. However, kayaking does require skill, and expeditions need detailed knowledge of local conditions, so it’s a wise idea to take a training course before you set out on an exhilarating adventure. Then perhaps it’s time to consider some of the following challenges:
- Croatian coastline,
- Abel Tasman Trail, which can be done as a hike as well as a kayak trip.
- Scottish Sea Kayak Trail, which is split in to shorter sections called The Whisky Coast, The Jacobite Coast and the Gaelic Coast