Riccardo Panareo has been a Grand European Tour Director for over 13 years, focusing on Italy. Over the next 3 weeks Riccardo will share his top tips for getting in “tour” shape so you can get the most out of your upcoming vacation!
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Preparing for your trip to Europe is very exciting. Many of us buy new outfits and luggage, but take a tip from a professional Tour Director – if you start to add some physical activity into your daily schedule in the weeks before your trip, you’ll get so much more out of your vacation! Let’s start from the solid fact that a tour is that type of vacation which is based on the PHYSICAL VISIT of several places, usually located in foreign countries, where habits, temperament, and food, can be very different from the ones we are use to at home.
As most European cities and villages were planned and built centuries ago, their layout didn’t take into consideration today’s urban population and traffic. Many European cities have become pedestrian only zones. The places we visit are usually ancient, located in old city centers, not always accessible to our coaches. For us, this means that in order to visit some of the “not-to-be-missed and must-see” sites and attractions, we walk from where we park our motorcoach and visit the attraction on foot. This requires normal, good, walking capabilities.
To physically visit the various places while coping with the many differences requires energy – both physical and mental – just like dancing, or hiking or even cooking! Therefore for a full enjoyment of a tour I encourage all my travelers to do some simple, basic preparation. If you are not used to walking daily, I suggest that in the weeks leading up to your departure that you start so you can fully enjoy the beauty that each tour encounters.
“How far do I need to walk?” I hear you ask. If you do not do it already, 3 weeks before a tour, perhaps start walking for 10 minutes a day for 4-5 days, then increase to 15 minutes for another 4-5 days. Then go to 20 minutes, and include a few stretches slightly uphill. Now keep in mind, we are not training for the Olympics… our walks are of slow, but steady, pace. Don’t forget that in many areas throughout Europe you’ll encounter un-even cobble-stoned streets and uneven surfaces.
Wherever you travel in Europe, you will encounter steps. Very often the places we visit are housed in ancient buildings, built in times when the only meaning of the word “elevator“ was a sequence of prayers leading to heaven… So we have steps. In Europe we have the greatest collection of steps. But we also have the greatest collection of food. Food, steps.. steps, food... Could it be that there is a relation between the two? Ah the wisdom of the old...
Here are my top tips to become more active & to prepare your body for your tour:
- Start Moving. In the weeks leading up to your departure, add some basic, physical activity into your daily schedule.
- Be prepared to walk on different types of paths. On your tour you’ll likely encounter uneven ground and cobblestone streets. Practice by walking on different types of ground at home; pavement, dirt, etc.
- Break your shoes in before you travel. Brand new shoes will give you blisters, so be sure to wear comfortable, safe walking shoes that are already broken in.
Next week join me again to read up on my packing tips.
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