5 Reasons to Trek Internationally (for All of My NYC Friends)

You live in New York City. It’s a short train ride to the Appalachian Trail where you can follow those white blazes to some of the most scenic hiking routes in the world. That’ll cost you $32 round-trip on the Metro-North, and you can still be back in time for dinner. With all of that natural beauty at your fingertips, why would you spend your hard-earned cash (and sacred vacation time) traveling overseas to hike?

5. Because tour operators make it easy.
If you’re like me, you’re used to tossing some Pop-Tarts into your daypack and catching a bus out into the wilderness. Do you know what you’re probably not used to? Staying in luxury hotels positioned right along your route and leaving with a gourmet lunch in-hand every morning. (Why yes, I will try that locally-made artisanal cheese on the trail today, thanks.) Imagine walking for seven hours on the Tour de Mont Blanc and then spending the evening relaxing in a whirlpool tub with a glass of chilled white wine. This is an actual thing that you can do. And that’s why I’d recommend booking your hike with a tour operator, even though you might think that it’s cheaper and more “rugged” to do it yourself. You can be rugged back home on Bear Mountain. Live like a boss during your vacation time.

4. You’ll get a brand-new perspective of the world over pints.
Some people go hiking to get away from the rest of the world, but others go because they know that the best friends you can make are the ones you'll find on the trail. On international hikes, you’ll learn all about a different culture from the folks who know it best. Get insider tips on where to grab your next meal, what special events (like concerts and festivals) overlap with your trip, which popular tourist attractions are overrated, and which ones are definitely worth the drive!

3. Bring on the next challenge!
Maybe you’re thinking about moving from day-hikes to backcountry camping, but you don’t even know how to pitch a tent. In Scotland, you can spend a night wild camping (almost) anywhere you want! What better way to motivate yourself to learn than a night under the stars in the Scottish countryside? Or maybe you’re a weekend warrior who wants to explore longer trails? You can find amazing one- and two-week hikes all over Europe! Which one would you push yourself harder for? A hike that’s a few hours drive from your home — or a hike through the lemon groves of the Amalfi Coast? Taking a hiking trip abroad gives you the perfect incentive to tackle your most daunting challenge and push yourself to the next level.

2. Take a walk through history.
The rolling hills of England will make you feel like you just stepped into an Emily Brontë novel. The dusty Camino trails of Spain will pull you back into your very own Medieval pilgrimage. And while you probably won’t spot Nurmengard while hiking on Switzerland’s Grindelwald Trail, you will get to experience forest paths sprinkled with glorious alpine flowers. Trekking through Europe can be the ultimate journey through history and literature. (English teacher friends: Looking for your next great summer reading book? Check out Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path and then take your very own quest along England’s South West Coast Path.)

1. You’ll get the most authentic tourist experience possible.
Hiking or sight-seeing?

Not only will you get to fulfill all of your #HikingGoals, you’ll also get the most authentic experience possible of a new country. Hiking trails usually take you through the little villages that are off-the-beaten path where you can enjoy a drink with the locals, dine on some home-cooked cuisine, and bring home some souvenirs that aren’t a tacky plastic keychain. One of the best vacation nights I ever had was sitting in a little pub in Doolin, listening to traditional folk music, and chatting with a gentleman who owned a local wool factory about politics. Seriously guys, you can’t miss Doolin. Just thinking about their Rocky Road fudge makes me want to hop on the first ferry across the Irish Sea. BRING IT, DOOLIN.

Bonus Perk: Say Goodbye to the Bearanoia.
Sick of bear canisters, bear boxes, and hauling your pack up into the trees so that Yogi can’t get his brunch on? In the UK, our apex predators include foxes and otters. That’s right. Tiny baby otters holding hands are your biggest concern over here. If that’s not enough to make you pack up your gear and head overseas, I don’t know what is.

So if you want an adventure that you’ll never forget this summer, instead of another week spent lying on the beach, check out what Europe has to offer and hit the trails. And if you want some company in the great outdoors, just give me a call!

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