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Hiking holidays: How to plan your next hike safely

Written by Fiona

July 24 2023

Hiking holidays should be a joy with the welcome benefits of exercise, nature and the chance to spend time on your own or with friends. However, there are risks inherent to such trips.

Whether you are embarking on a domestic hiking holiday as an inexpensive alternative to a trip abroad, or undertaking the international backpacking trip of a lifetime, you should ensure that your planning is comprehensive and safe. Yours safety should come before anything else, in order to guarantee a successful and fun trip. With this in mind, what should you know about planning your next hike?

The risks of hiking

First, it is incumbent on you to understand the various risks that can be associated with hiking as an activity. To the uninitiated, hiking might seem like little more than a walking holiday with extra steps. However, hiking is more akin to sport than leisure and should be approached with due care and attention.

Physical Health

The sheer physicality involved in more in-depth hikes, as with mountain hikes – be they in Snowdonia or the Rockies – cannot be ignored. Without the right planning, it can be easy to injure oneself through overexertion and exhaustion. By this same token, hydration and nourishment are paramount considerations.

Accidents

No matter how physically prepared you might be, accidents can still happen. This might be a slip on wet ground, or a trip on loose rock, which could lead to a tumble or fall, and even broken bones. This poses much more of a danger in remote and difficult-to-reach areas than they do near urban centres.

Weather

The likelihood of an accident happening increases greatly in poor weather conditions. Stormy weather can create uneven ground, increasing the risk of a trip or fall. Accidents aside, extended periods of rain or reduced temperature can introduce new difficulties to following your walking route, resulting in delays or personal illness.

How to plan a safe trip

None of the above should be reason enough for you to call off your hiking plans. Rather, all can be planned for, and should be with meticulous care. For example, when planning your route, you should take the fitness of all party members into account. You should also calculate the ideal amount of resources you’ll need to comfortably make the journey, with leeway for delays and breaks.

Where you are following pre-defined routes on private land, you should take the time to read up on any available safety information. It is often a legal requirement in some countries for park custodians or landowners to signpost hazards. Sometimes, then, accidents are unavoidable by virtue of poor signposting, but personal injury claims after the fact become a viable route to compensation.

Finally, as a general rule you should ensure that a number of people, friends and family alike know what your holiday plans are. Assuming you do this, and assuming you follow your pre-set route as closely as possible, it will be much easier for authorities to find you should something go wrong. The people you have shared your trip with can alert authorities if they don’t hear from you, and give precise information on your whereabouts.

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