Feeling nervous about traveling actively with Backroads? Curious about the level of activity on a Backroads hiking or cycling trip? Or maybe you're simply wondering if you'll have time to relax and be able to do things other than hike, bike and be active? Fear not! I've been a Backroads Trip Leader for six years, and while the active parts of the trips I've been able to lead are always amazing, I equally love all the in-between moments that offer the chance to kick back, relax, slow down and truly soak up everything there is to be experienced in these beautiful corners of the world.
Some of my favorite memories from trips that I've led are things that I've experienced simply because I made an individual decision, in the moment, to do so. Of course, Backroads is an active travel company known for hiking and biking our way around the world but we also recognize that a big part of the joy of traveling is taking advantage of the quieter, not-so-active moments. Things like pausing to enjoy a scenic boat ride, sitting back to relish a dog sledding tour, indulging in a flavorful gelato in the town square or getting up earlier than everyone else to see the sunrise...these are the simple things you can experience on an active vacation that just might turn out to be the highlight of your entire trip.
One of my favorite trips to lead is the Cinque Terre & Tuscany Walking and Hiking Tour. This trip has an excellent diversity of options built right into the itinerary! We spend several days exploring the gorgeous seaside villages of the Italian Riviera, including the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Cinque Terre (meaning 'Five Earths'). As we make our way from one seaside village to the next, you have option to explore the various hiking trails or board the local train that connects the various villages or even hop aboard a scenic boat that takes you between the ritzy port town of Portofino and its lovely neighbor Santa Margherita Ligure. Trust me - I've done all these options and there's no wrong way to experience this beautiful region of Italy.
Sometimes alternative activities are built right into the cultural fabric of a destination. Italy's mountainous Dolomite region, for example, has a rich spa culture that is an intrinsic part of local life. Backroads offers Walking & Hiking, Biking and Multi-Adventure Tours in the Dolomites, each one designed with a variety of routes each day to suit a variety of activity levels. In addition, the hotels on these trips feature world-class spas with a luxurious array of saunas, baths and body treatments. Whether you decide to unwind at the spa after a day of high-level activity or simply choose to take the whole day off to indulge in a series of spa treatments, the options are there for the taking.
I love being a leader our Netherlands and Belgium Bike Tour because it offers the opportunity to cycle on an incredible network of (mostly flat) bike paths that connect culturally rich hubs of two countries! During this trip you can easily take a break from the bike to visit different museums and cultural sights along the way. In the Dutch city, The Hague, the Mauritshuis Museum has some of the very best paintings of the Dutch Golden Age including Vermeer's iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring. The Hague is also home to the Peace Palace--the seat of the International Court of Justice and the only judicial entity of the United Nations located outside of its New York headquarters. If you make a stop here, don't forget to snap a photo of yourself! After all, it IS the most photographed building in the city. And as we cross into Belgium, we stop to visit the charming medieval city of Bruges, where you can set the bike aside to wander on foot through the romantic network of cobblestone streets, step-gabled brick houses, lofty spires and meandering canals. And maybe you'll decide that you'd like to spend the rest of the day sampling the artisan chocolates, waffles and frites from street vendors? Why not? You're on a Backroads trip! And it's your choice for the taking.
Backroads Classic Provence Bike Tour features picturesque cycling interspersed with opportunities for wine tastings in places like the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. At my favorite winery in the region, there's even a corkscrew museum to explore! Opt to take a break and live the locals for a day as you sip pastis and play the leisurely lawn game of pétanque.
If a culinary-inspired vacation sounds appealing, you'll find yourself in good company on Backroads trips all over the world. Taking a break to sip a little vino is almost mandatory in Tuscany, Italy's sun-kissed wine-famous region. Join me there on our Tuscany & Umbria Walking & Hiking Tour where we'll sample some renowned red wine in memorable Montalcino and savor the flavorful pecorino sheep milk cheese of the region in inspiring Pienza. Options abound for a Chianti wine tasting on what might just might be my all-time favorite Backroads cycling trip, our Tuscany Bike Tour. On this trip we visit small, family-operated farms and the impressive family-owned Antinori winery.
Looking for a holiday that's heavier on the food and wine and a little lighter on the activity overall? We've got you covered! Check out our indulgent Active Culinary Tours. The vineyards & farm-to-table delights in California's Wine Country are second to none. Mamma mia...you'll never eat so well as you will on our Italian culinary adventure from Chianti to Florence. Are you more of a Francophile? Expand your culinary repertoire in Provence as we sample delicacies from St-Remy to Gordes & Roussillon. When I lead this trip, I love to linger over the picture-perfect wares at the vibrant local markets of the Luberon.
South of the equator, Backroads New Zealand trips are designed to be several days longer than our European trips. On one of these trips, it's easy take a whole day off from more ambitious pursuits and opt for a lighter activity. At one of my favorite hotels in the world--Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki--you can opt to take a kayak out for a relaxing paddle or curl up in the inviting lounge with a book from the well-stocked library. There's even an easy-going walking path that leads you down to Monro beach, the seasonal home of Fjorland Crested Penguins.
Wherever in the world you choose to travel with Backroads, rest assured that you'll always have a range of daily activities to choose from, as well as suggestions of ways to "switch gears" and take the easy-going road. Our trips are designed to allow you to go at your own pace and relax as much as you want to. After all, you are on vacation, aren't you?