Walking Adventures is a Tour Operator
Walking Adventures International (WAI) is a tour operator; we provide programs based upon our own onsite planning. We are not a travel agency which books individual airline tickets or hotel rooms, or sells a variety of travel services purchased from other travel organizations.
WAI is a team of dedicated travel enthusiasts in Vancouver, Washington who have been offering travel programs combining walking with conventional sightseeing since 1989. Our travel strategy is to identify the distinctive characteristics of a destination and capture those special attributes in a travel program using walking as the primary medium of interaction. Our flagship tour is an inclusive package that provides all land arrangements, including hotels; transportation by motorcoach, trains, or small ships; many of the meals; sightseeing excursions; and, of course, the walks. We call this the Classic Curated Tour. We also offer three other tour types detailed below: Volkssport Tours, Self-Guided Tours, and Faith-Heritage Tours.
Our Guide Service
We send one or two WAI tour leaders on each trip. When overseas travel reemerges, groups will likely be led by one WAI guide in partnership with our national guides. In some cases, our most trusted local guides (e.g., Hildrun Mathies in Central Europe and Amanda Whitehead in Great Britain) may lead the tour without a WAI guide. Local guides also make cameo appearances to add commentary and share insights.
Four Types of Tours
Classic Curated Tour
A Classic Curated Tour has been the hallmark of Walking Adventures for 30 years. Each Walking Adventure is created from scratch—it is not a pre-packaged program purchased from another travel company. Each new tour involves months of planning, including on-site research to plan walks, work with local walking guides, review hotels, and handcraft the schedule for each day. Customized routes and itineraries are intended to showcase the history, culture, and natural wonders of local areas. Subsequent editions of these trips are refreshed with research from our office and collaboration with in-country guides and suppliers.
Volkssport is a German name for an international network of walking clubs that started in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the 1960‘s. These clubs organize noncompetitive walks (usually 10 kilometers — 6.2 miles) through scenic and/or historic areas. The idea is to get people of all ages outdoors to participate in healthy events where everyone is declared the winner. In some destinations, our travel plans include joining these local Volkssport clubs for their walks, which generally becomes a cultural highlight of the trip.
A self-guided tour provides you with everything you need to experience one of our classic walking adventures on your own, including walk directions, driving directions, hotel reservations, and in-office support! Travelers can choose their own set of dates and activities for the Adventure, and we make all the bookings!
This new style of travel was debuted in the Fall of 2020 with our Utah Self-Guided Tour. Travelers who prefer more control over their day and don’t mind driving will love enjoying the best of both worlds!
Our Faith-Heritage Tours are a new style of travel incubated during tours in Israel and Turkey (Seven Churches of the Revelation) over the past 15 years, but will be much broader in scope. In a world moving increasingly in a secular direction, itineraries explored on Faith-Heritage Tours will include reminders of a God-centered universe. These trips will resemble our Classic Curated Tours, but presented from a faith-based perspective.
We typically walk an average of 2 to 6 miles per day. Walks can vary in focus and generally fall into one of three broad categories: 1) nature, 2) city sightseeing, and 3) rural/cultural. Walk difficulty is rated with a numeric indicator (1 to 5) for incline, and an alpha indicator (A to E) for terrain, rising from easier to more difficult as the alpha-numeric indicator rises. We try to keep walks on the easier side—rated 1A to 3C—but often offer “challenge” trails with higher levels of difficulty on an optional basis.
For more details, check out The Walks page.
For groups of 12 to 22, we use motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats. Seating on vehicles will be arranged to allow maximum distance between travelers.
WAI travelers originate from all over the 50 states as well as Canada and other countries; travelers are therefore advised to book their air with a travel agent, online, or directly with the airlines. Details about the start/finish points, flight arrangements, and contact information for a travel agent will be sent soon after registration for any tour.
For international tours which include point-to-point flights within the program, we usually provide an optional group air package. Doing so helps travelers take advantage of reduced fares for packaging international flights with domestic flights, and simplifies the objective of keeping the group together as we move from point-to-point within the itinerary.
Our baseline standard is a superior tourist class or better hotel. However, hotels with lower ratings may be chosen due to factors considered in hotel selection, which include:
- Accessibility to local attractions on foot;
- Proximity to walk start/finish;
- Charm or location of the establishment;
- Remoteness of a particular region and scarcity of accommodations;
- Proximity to restaurants;
- and, of course, cost/budget.
The number of travelers accepted on a tour is currently between 12 and 22, using a full-sized motor coach. This smaller-sized group is a result of current concerns over COVID-19. We will evaluate our experience with this group size and consider changes as we emerge into a post-COVID-19 reality.
Average age is around 65 years, with a wide variety from 12-year-old grandkids to peppy octogenarians.
If you are traveling alone and would like information about roommate options, please contact us at [email protected].
Meal planning has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. As a result, group meals are generally not included in 2022, though there may be exceptions. Breakfasts are included when provided by our hotels. Restaurants are usually walkable from our hotels. Stops are made as necessary at grocery stores. Most USA hotels have refrigerators and microwaves in the room. And our coach is used, as necessary, to shuttle to dinners when restaurants are not nearby.
Tours will be priced assuming 15 to 22 travelers. If, for any reason, the number of travelers drops to the point that using a 15-passenger van makes more sense, a small group surcharge of around $40 to $60 per day, depending upon the tour, may be considered, allowing the benefits of an even smaller group.
How to Join a Tour
- Tours under consideration for 2024 are first opened for “pre-registration”. Basic tour information is provided on their webpage, along with a tour map, and travelers are invited to hold their spots with a refundable $100 pre-registration deposit. Tours which are popular in the pre-registration phase are developed into final itineraries with firm dates, detailed itineraries, and final pricing.
- Once pricing and dates are available, pre-registered travelers are offered a Priority Booking Invitation for full registration by email. Full registration requires an additional $200 ($300 full registration). Pre-registered travelers have one week to fully register before remaining space on the tour is opened to the general public. Once the registration deposit is paid, it is non-refundable.
- Final Payment is due 90 days before tour departure and can be made online or mailed by check for a 1% discount. This Final Payment is non-refundable and non-transferable.
Wellness on Tour Policy
Please view our Wellness on Tour Policy for more details.
WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using SquareMouth.com can be a good way to compare pricing.
NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e., some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.
We hope we’ve addressed your questions. Please feel free to call 360.260.9393 during phone hours (Mon-Fri, 7 am to 10 am, PST) to chat about any further questions you may have.
How to Contact Us
Responsive, easily accessible customer service has been a WAI hallmark during our 30-year history. For the time being, the leaner look of WAI necessitates fewer staff. Therefore, email is the best way to communicate with our smaller team, using [email protected].
For now, our phone will be staffed on a limited basis; the WAI phone will be answered directly on Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 10 am, Pacific Time Zone. The office number is (360) 260-9393.
If you need to speak with one of us and those times don’t work for you, leave a voice message or request a call back by email, and we’ll do our best to get back to you within 24 hours—probably sooner. Our goal is also to answer emails no later than 24 hours after received.
General Tour Conditions
Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.