It’s time to take your workout out of the gym and on the road! These awe-inspiring active travel vacations will give you a reason to hike, bike, swim and snorkel — with delicious food, fun and relaxation in between.
Besides amazing adventures, the companies that host these trips offer friendly, informed guides to show you the ins and outs of every town you visit. They’ll also take care of meals and transporting your luggage. (Hey, it’s a vacation after all!) While most of these getaways happen in groups, you can often veer off and explore at your own pace. So any stressors you experience in everyday life? They’ll vanish once you hit the road. Sign up for one of these escapes to cure any case of wanderlust!
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7 Active Travel Vacations You Won’t Want to Pass Up
Photo courtesy of REI Adventures
1. REI Adventures White Mountain Hut-to-Hut Snowshoe
Best for: Snow-capped eco-adventuring
Consider REI the gold standard for eco-friendly active escapes, whether you’re looking for a weekend of camping or trekking through Africa. You don’t have to leave the U.S. for this cold-weather favorite, though. Set in New Hampshire, the trip spans three days and offers breathtaking mountaintop views, as well as hiking and snowshoeing. You’ll work your way to Crawford Notch and Zealand Valley during the day, and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center and Zealand Falls Hut at night. It’s the perfect way to extent hiking season through the colder months. And for those earth-friendly bonus points? REI is known for using reusable and recyclable materials wherever possible. Plus, they support the local culture of the hosting cities.
Price: $449 for lodging, one breakfast, two lunches and snowshoes; rei.com
Dates offered: February, March and December 2017
Alternate itinerary: REI staffers’ new favorite trip is a hiking adventure in Camino de Santiago Spain. The eight-day trek provides views of the ocean, hidden coves and country sides while you travel from Bilbao to Santiago.
Photo courtesy of Discover Outdoors
2. Discover Outdoors Great Range Traverse
Best for: A break from the daily grind
Discover Outdoors makes it super easy to flee the fast-paced urban life in favor of some QT with nature. So take a weekend to test your strength and endurance on this 21-mile journey over 10 of the Adirondack High Peaks. Departing from New York City, you’ll head upstate to climb more than 8,000 feet in total with water, fuel and informative tour guides to help you along the way. The highest point of the hike comes in at 5,344 feet — the Empire State’s tallest peak — where you’ll see beautiful, wooded landscapes. When you reach base camp, get ready for a delicious dinner and campfire chats before cozying up in the cabin. Aka glamping at its finest.
Price: From $675 for roundtrip transportation from NYC, lodging and all meals; discoveroutdoors.com
Dates offered: May 27-29, 2017
Alternate itinerary: Discover Outdoors offers several beginner-friendly day trips and multi-day escapes throughout the entire year, all in the Northeast. (And there are plenty you can sign up for today to embrace the winter!) Check out their Starter Snowshoe trips to cover more moderate distances at a slower pace.
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Photo courtesy of G Adventures, Inc.
3. Merit Travel Costa Rica Kayaking
Best for: Seeing a city from the water
While most trips on this list challenge your legs, this nine-day adventure works your upper body like no other. You’ll paddle the waters of Costa Rica’s coolest kayaking spots for a whole new view of the lush green scenery. Glide along Lake Arenal (where you can also paddleboard), and when you hit the canals of Tortuguero, keep an eye out for monkeys and sloths. Swimming and waterfall sightings also fill the itinerary. Even better, Merit Travel’s trip consultants know the lay of the land, so they’ll give you some insider info on can’t-miss stops on your trip.
Price: $1,028 for lodging, three breakfasts, four lunches and three dinners, plus activities; merittravel.com
Dates offered: March 11-19, 2017 (other dates available upon request)
Alternate itinerary: Staffers say one of the best trips Merit Travel offers is a trekking adventure through Iceland. You’ll visit geysers, hot springs, volcanoes and more, while learning Icelandic culture. Have a girls’ getaway in mind? Merit Travel also offers women’s-only trips.
Photo courtesy of Exodus Travels
4. Exodus Travels Slovenia Mixed Activity
Best for: Off the beaten path exploration
It’s safe to say Exodus takes the idea of adventure travel to dream-worthy levels. They have 500 itineraries in 90 countries, and they aim to give you a peak into the local life at each destination. On this eight-day escape, you’ll literally dive right into Central European activities. Plan to spend lots of time on the Soca River while you whitewater raft, canyon and kayak. On land, you’ll mountain bike and zip-line on one of Europe’s longest and fastest lines. Then after a few fun-filled days, you get time to hang in the cute small town of Kobaris.
Price: From $1,285 for lodging, seven breakfasts, six dinners and all activities; exodustravels.com
Dates offered: June-September 2017
Alternate itinerary: If you’re jealous of your friends who got to visit the Amalfi Coast this year, you can have an even better adventure with any one of these five adventure trips Exodus offers (their most popular). You can even do some island hopping.
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If you’re an animal lover, this trip is for you. The Galapagos Islands have the highest number of rare species in the world, so you know the wildlife will leave a lasting impression. You’re likely to spot giant tortoises, sea lions and giant manta rays, all in their natural habitat. Even better, you have the options to swim, snorkel, kayak, surf, bike and hike throughout the eight-day trip. Another perk to traveling with G Adventures: In partnership with the nonprofit, Planeterra, they’ve helped launch and support 50 community development programs and businesses worldwide. G also guarantees departures for 100 percent of their trips (no canceling if they don’t get enough people) and if you have to withdraw or delay a trip, your deposit stays active until you’re ready to go.
Price: From $2,399 for lodging, excursions, seven breakfasts, four lunches and two dinners; gadventures.com
Dates offered: February-December 2017
Alternate itinerary: G Adventures also offers budget-friendly “Yolo” tours for 18 to 39 year olds — a great option for solo travelers. These trips include a packed schedule with activities throughout the day and dancing well into the night.
Photo courtesy of VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations
6. VBT Cycling Piedmont: Into Italy’s Slow Food Farmland
Best for: Touring (and tasting!) the town on a two-wheeler
VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations offers several biking trips throughout Italy — some of which include airfare — but this is one of their newest. You’ll spend 10 days pedaling past countless villages, castles and vineyards, where you’ll stop to learn about grape production and tour the distillery. (Who can resist getting up close and personal with an Italian winery?) You’ll also get to eat farm-fresh, delicious cuisine and learn to make your own pizza. And you don’t have to worry about indulging, considering you’ll bike for 15 to 45 miles a day. To top it off, the company’s trip leaders all reside in the country they lead excursions, so they know local customs and can provide historical context for each location.
Price: From $3,995 for lodging, bikes, six breakfasts, two lunches and four dinners; vbt.com
Dates offered: May-June, September-October 2017
Alternate itinerary: Another new trip this year, VBT offers a walking tour of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks so you can explore gorgeous, natural scenery right in the U.S.
One of Backroads’ coolest trips offered, according to staffers, is this six-day adventure. It takes you on a tour of the Mediterranean, as you cycle through granite mountains, past amazing water views and around lavender groves. It also challenges you with steep ascents, followed by fun, fast-paced declines. Choose your distance each day — anywhere from 20 to 50 miles — and ride it at your own pace. (Backroads provides Garmin GPS devices, complete with directions for the various routes. You can also get an E-bike if you want an extra boost on climbs.) Enjoy incredible meals, including homemade lunches made by trip leaders, and luxurious accommodations. Backroads’ friendly, knowledgeable staff takes care of all the details so you can travel carefree.
Price: From $4,498 for lodging, bikes, all breakfasts, five lunches and four dinners; backroads.com
Dates offered: April-June, September-October 2017
Alternate itinerary: Backroads also offers U.S. biking and hiking trips including the new Death Valley Bike Tour and the popular California Wine Country Bike Tour. Some of their more wallet-friendly trips involve camping, like the Bryce and Zion National Parks trip, where you don’t even have to worry about setting up the tent. Staffers will do it for you post hike — plus have meals ready and waiting.