This week I sit down with our Website and Content Manager Karl, who is passionate about travel, fitness and going on “active holidays”. He’s just back from Gran Canaria where he had a great time hiking and exploring breathtaking landscapes.
Q. So what exactly is an “active holiday”?
A. An active holiday is one that has an element of activity such as walking/cycling/climbing etc. It doesn’t have to be all activity, you can have a 50/50 split between leisure and activity. In Gran Canaria for example, there was a really nice mix of hiking with relaxation and socialising.
Q. Why would one choose an active holiday over a leisure holiday?
A. Firstly when you go on holiday you are trying to give yourself a break from stress. Often I found when I went on a leisure holiday I was feeling more lethargic than when I left.
When I went on my first active holiday, mixing culinary delights with some activity rejuvenates the body and mind and allows you to recharge the batteries. It’s more of an escape. Mixing the endorphins you get from activity such as walking/hiking with being away from the daily grind and also treating yourself to food and drink like a regular holiday is the perfect combination for coming back refreshed which is what you are looking for from a holiday.
Q. What was a typical day on your active holiday to Gran Canaria?
A. Wake up 8 am. Breakfast was rich in carbs and some tasty coffee. I could enjoy the cool morning breeze from the balcony overlooking a rocky mountainous landscape. Then hit the trail around 9 am, hike, enjoy the sites until 1 pm. Then have lunch from the picnic provided, hike until 5 pm, arrive back at the hotel, lounge outside the hotel in the sun, enjoy the culture, have a pint, go out for dinner around 9 pm in one of the local reasonably priced restaurants.
Then a nice book and bed for 10.30/11 pm. Then, good quality sleep for at least 8 hours, something you might not get at home. The exercise helps guarantee a good quality sleep every night. I did that for 4 days.
Q. On these active holidays, you are off the beaten track. Is that disconcerting?
A. You’re out on secluded trails, immersed in nature, there’s very little civilisation. It’s like you are brought back to the roots of human existence. The closest I saw to culture was a mountain goat!
It’s disconcerting at the start, it feels like your disconnected from civilisation but there’s 4G everywhere. The connectivity of your mobile device is great, although you feel like your a world away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I would recommend only using the mobile when absolutely necessary,
Q. How has it impacted on your mental health?
A. Hiking in the wilderness can almost induce a meditative state.
You come back with having solved some issues that may have been lingering and undealt with when you’re hiking, that’s a great time to make some decisions because you were able to take the time out to do it without any deadlines. You also have a clear mind, a task as simple as following a path and putting one foot in from of the other assists with mental clarity in a way that no other activity can.
You have the ability to recognise that the corporate world that you spend 40 hours a week immersed in is not everything in life and knowing you have that ability to escape once or twice a year helps with your anxiety and stress levels.
The trail is something you can daydream about and these moments of reflection can bring clarity in difficult times.
Q. How would you convince someone a leisure holiday may not be the way to go?
A. I would ask them to reflect on how they felt coming back, did it benefit them? How did they feel about themselves physically and emotionally?
How did they spend the day? Did they get the most out of the holiday they went on?
You’re not losing out, there’s the opportunity to take rest days that you can spend in seaside towns and the opportunity to get some great food and drink.
Trust me, you won’t lose anything from changing to an active holiday but you will gain more than you can even imagine.