First Trip Abroad
What if you're hoping to hike, bike, or camp abroad, but don't necessarily want to be part of an organized tour? First, Truszkowski says:
-- Contact the National Tourism Office for the destinations you have in mind. You should receive a wealth of brochures, timetables, and maps, along with lists of accommodation rentals, attractions, and local festivals and events. Because these offices maintain hotel lists—often including every licensed hotel in the area divided into price categories—the savings can be considerable.
-- Use national airlines. It can slash the cost of both international and domestic travel. What's more, these airlines provide some cultural nuances along with the flight, offering you an early taste of the culture you'll soon be a part of.
While pulling all of these details together can seem overwhelming at first, country-specific guidebooks and tourist offices can fill you in on many of the camping and hiking facilities available, as well as on equipment rental. Once again, as long as you put on your Sherlock Holmes hat well ahead of time, you should be able to plan the perfect family trek.
Truszkowski offers several strategies for active families vacationing abroad:
Very often it is easier to hire or even buy a bicycle locally. Unless you are booking an organized bike package, however, child seats, helmets, and panniers, including front bags and supports, are the few things best ordered from a bike specialist at home. In the developing world, these are not only less likely to be available, but equipment in the shops may be of poor quality. Buying gear locally could risk your entire family's safety.
Often, it is not essential to carry camping equipment with you. Along many popular routes you're likely to find strategically placed huts, inns, and lodges where you can rest up and eat. You may never have considered an organized campsite, but bear in mind that what they may lack in privacy and even aesthetics, they certainly make up for in social interaction. Nowhere is it easier for your kids to meet playmates. Sites where luxury tents come ready-pitched and fully equipped for use save you hauling your home on your back.
Using an experienced local guide, especially if you are trekking, has distinct advantages. These guys know their area in detail and can also provide up-to-date equipment.
Flying with bulky equipment should not cost extra as long as you remain within the appointed baggage allowance (the standard baggage allowance for an economy fare is around 20 kilograms). If you are determined to go it alone with all your equipment, it's good to know that in some areas of the world you can hire porters or support vehicles to carry your packs and even your children. Find out more from the national tourist office for that country (see the Tourism Directory).
Article copyright © Alice Cary.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication