If you know me, you know I love trains. They are by far my favorite way to get from A to B. They’re slower than planes, yes, but allow you to enjoy the journey more. But, once I get where I’m going, my preferred method of transportation is my own two feet.
Walking is, of course, the slowest way to get anywhere (unless you consider “moseying” a distinct form of movement), but with innumerable benefits that make it all worthwhile. You can experience a place on a much more intimate level when you travel by foot. A bus, car or bike gives you a quick glimpse of the sights as you go by (truly, “drive-by” tourism); the subway forces you to bypass the sights completely. But walking engages all of your senses: you can see, hear, smell, taste, even feel the city around you. You can talk to people, pause to admire street art, buy a snack from a street vendor, or literally stop to smell the roses. You can explore narrow streets and hidden courtyards that would be off-limits or invisible to someone on wheels. You can get lost, too, but that’s also part of the fun.
Walking will help you burn off the calories from all the delicious food you eat on your travels (yes, you may have another chocolate croissant!). And despite being slow, walking may actually get you there faster: In the time it takes you to figure out a bus system and wait for the bus to arrive, you could probably walk there. (Think of a walker as the tortoise, while a traveler in a bus or taxi is the hare.) Plus, it’s free, and it generates zero carbon emissions!
There are companies that offer tours entirely dedicated to walking, but even if walking isn’t the point of your vacation, you’re still going to have the opportunity to do a lot of it. Many travelers underestimate the amount of walking they’ll be doing on their travels, even when they’re just going to a theme park or taking a cruise. Want to do a circuit of the memorials in Washington DC? Expect to log about 8 miles or more in a single day. If walking isn’t a regular part of your daily life, all those miles will wear you out fast. So as the summer travel season approaches, one of the best things you can do to prepare is to get in walking shape. And buy really comfortable shoes. You don’t want tired legs and feet to get in the way of your itinerary ambitions.
Once you’ve converted to the walking way of travel, it’s hard to go back. Walking is not just a way to get somewhere, but a pleasure in itself.