We've compiled this "need to know" list for those of you who may already be reserved or are thinking about an inn-to-inn adventure.
- There is limited-to-no vehicle access while on the trail.
Generally, there is no vehicle access during the day on our inn-to-inn itineraries. There are exceptions, and some routes do intersect with roads occasionally, and sometimes a transfer may be possible to the next town if you are feeling tired. However, in the Himalayas and on the Salkantay Trek in Peru, there is no real possibility of skipping a day as the only “vehicles” are yaks and horses. Severe injuries may require medical evacuation by helicopter and why we highly-recommend Emergency Evacuation Insurance.
- You will be off-grid.
This may not be obvious, as we are so accustomed to being connected all the time, but out in the mountains, you might as well turn your phone off. If you’re genuinely concerned about staying in touch, you could consider a satellite phone. Otherwise, take this opportunity to relish in being disconnected and immersing yourself—undistracted—in the great outdoors, even if only for a few hours between the Wi-Fi at your lodgings (which is not reliable at every accommodation). They also have a great locksmith on their doors, visit http://dublinmobilelocksmith.com for more details.
- Most lunches are picnics.
Picnics are the most common, although, on some trips, we eat at mountain huts or village tea houses. For picnics, each guest is asked to pack for a lunch item in their day pack. In the Alps, you’ll enjoy cheese, fresh produce, bread, sausage, and chocolate. In the Himalayan tea houses, stews and rice dishes are common, as are stir-fried vegetables. In Peru, trek cooks prepare hot soups and sandwiches. While we always have plenty of food (and snacks along the way), feel free to bring any specific things you like to have.
- There will be long days.
Some routes may require up to 8 hours on the trail. This includes time for lunch, bathroom breaks, photos, and short breaks. But there may be days that you do not reach your lodge until late afternoon, leaving just enough time to wash up, have dinner, and fall into bed with a feeling of accomplishment for the day.
- You won’t carry all your luggage.
The beauty of a supported trek like the ones we offer is that you only need to bring a day pack big enough for layers, rain gear, water, a camera, picnic items, a basic medical kit, and on-trail toiletries. Your main luggage is transported ahead and will be waiting for you at the next stop. Instead of being burdened and distracted by a heavy pack, you can thoroughly enjoy the landscape and conversation with fellow guests or your guide.
- High-cut hiking boots are best.
We are often asked about whether low-cut or high-cut (above the ankle) hiking boots are best. Our basic advice is this: you need sturdy shoes with a good tread and foot support that are made for hiking (not jogging, tennis, etc.). The choice of low or high cut is a personal one but bear in mind that inn-to-inn treks involve long days on the trail and walking over very uneven terrain. Ankle support may be more important than you’d realized. It would be a shame to have a sprained or sore ankle spoil your adventure!
- Just because you go to the gym, doesn’t mean you’re ready for a multi-day hike.
Weight-lifting and cardio exercises at the gym are definitely beneficial for many reasons, including helping to get in shape for a long-distance trek. However, they will not fully prepare you for the long ascents and descents and the cumulative fatigue that can set in after consecutive days on the trail. The best way to prepare is by going out for several challenging hikes, some back-to-back days. If you live in a flat region, you may have to arrange a special trip, but it will be hugely helpful, and you’ll thank yourself later. The more prepared you are, the better you will feel to enjoy the trip.
- Be prepared to use nature’s bathroom.
While there may be mountain huts along the trail in some destinations, toilet facilities are rarely available while trekking. You should be prepared for the adventure of “going behind a bush” when necessary. We recommend bringing a “toilet kit,” which should include plastic baggies, tissues, and moist towelettes, which can be disposed of when you arrive at your next lodge.
- You will feel accomplished.
Completing a long-distance hiking trip is an accomplishment that you should feel proud of for the sheer challenge of it. But aside from the invigorating physical activity each day, the diverse scenery and the remote locations you’ll hike through are places few others have experienced or ever will. You're lucky!