Walking Adventures is a Tour Operator
Walking Adventures International (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. We offer inclusive packages that provide all land arrangements, including hotels; transportation by motorcoach, trains, or small ships; many of the meals; sightseeing excursions; and, of course, the walks.
Walking Adventures International 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.
Our Guide Service
We send two WAI tour leaders on each trip. International trips also benefit from in-country national guides. Typically a national guide is with the group from the time the travelers arrive until the day the group departs. Local guides also make cameo appearances to add commentary and share insights.
Volkswalking or Volkssport
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. It is more common, however, for WAI staff to conduct on-site planning trips, or work with local walking guides, to set up customized routes that showcase the history, culture, and natural wonders of local areas.
Our objective is to 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 easy 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.
Motorcoaches are the primary means of transportation, but we also use trains, ships, ferries, etc. for transportation. Whenever available, we use full-sized motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats, leaving about 25-30% of the seats free. In the developing world these larger, luxury coaches are less common. Whenever possible, we obtain a coach with a toilet—as backup to periodic rest stops. A growing number of programs now feature small ship river cruising (e.g. Danube River Cruise, Jewels of the Adriatic, and Russia) and trains (e.g. Canada by Train, Colorado by Train).
WAI is not a travel agent and does not have the capability to book individual airline tickets. WAI travelers originate from all over the 50 states as well as Canada and other countries; group flights are generally not practical unless travelers all depart from the same airport. Travelers are therefore advised to book their air with a travel agent, online, or directly with the airlines. Doing so usually provides comparable fares and more direct routing than a group flight plan that requires travelers to congregate at an East coast or West coast departure airport. 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.
To help make the process of getting to and from our Adventure starting points as easy as possible, Walking Adventures has an arrangement with a travel agent, Laura Pfahler at World Travel, Inc., who is familiar with our Adventure programs. Laura Pfahler has over 30 years of travel industry experience as a professional travel agent and consultant. Since her first trip abroad, backpacking around Europe at 18 years old, she’s had a passion for sharing her experience and expertise with others. Laura specializes in international travel and has booked group and individual travel to six continents (tough to get to Antarctica, the 7th, by plane unless you’re a research scientist!). She’s excited to be supporting WAI trips and travelers, and will assist with any airfare and travel insurance needs that you have. Here is her contact information:
Laura Pfahler, World Travel, Inc
- [email protected]
Laura is available available Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm PST.
Our baseline standard is a super 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.
Our current maximum group size is 25-30 persons, plus the guide team. 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 800.779.0353 or [email protected].
Breakfast is included every day along with a selection of lunches or dinners during the rest of the program. More meals are generally included on international programs than on North American programs. Culinary experiences are becoming a more significant part of the travel experience and a higher priority during WAI travel planning.
Booking a Tour
As we prepare adventures for upcoming travel seasons, each tour falls into one of two categories:
- tour programs in the planning stages
- tour programs with finalized itineraries
Early Birds: Tour programs still in the planning stages do not list final pricing and dates. You can reserve yourself a space on one of these trips by submitting a refundable $50 Early Bird deposit. Once the finalized itinerary is published with firm dates and pricing, Early Bird travelers have approximately two weeks to review the program and decide to officially register by sending the remaining $450 of the fee. They can also transfer the Early Bird deposit to a different tour or request a refund. Many of our tours fill up quickly with Early Birds, so be sure to secure a spot on all the trips you are interested in!
Registration: Tour programs with finalized itineraries feature set pricing and dates. Submit your registration fee of $500 to officially register for one of these trips.
Early Birds and Registrations can be made through the mail by check or over the phone with a credit card (we take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover).
Traveler Rewards Program
The Alumni Traveler Discount offers a 5-10% discount off the main tour price on most tours. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out each tour page for more details on discounts, our refer to our Traveler Rewards Program page.
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. Laura Pfahler of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, is also able to provide travel insurance for your WAI tour. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
Other options include:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
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 or email to chat about any further questions you may have.
You can contact us at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].