Tips for What to Pack for a Walking Vacation

Walkers at Sarria on Camino de Santiago
Walkers at Sarria on Camino de Santiago. Louise Morgan/Moment Open/Getty Images

Pack right and pack light for a walking vacation. Whether you are traveling the world or off to walk in your own country, knowing what to take and what not to take is a back-saver. Plan to wash out your clothes in the sink and let them dry overnight. This is best done with modern wicking fabrics and by avoiding all-cotton clothing.


Up to 5 shirts, none of them all-cotton. For walking, I suggest investing in CoolMax long and short sleeved t-shirts (depending on climate).

For dressier wear, a polo shirt in a blend high in polyester will get you into most respectable establishments and still be comfortable enough to walk in. They rinse out great in your hotel room sink and air dry overnight.

Pants and Shorts

Two pairs of pants - no jeans. You can get great hiking pants meant for travel in Supplex or other modern blends that you can wash in your hotel room sink and will air dry overnight. Take 1-2 pairs of shorts depending on the climate. Again, stay away from heavy jeans fabric and get a pair that will dry overnight.

Sweater or Fleece Vest and Jacket

You can ensure you won't get too cold by packing an insulating layer -- a sweater or a microfleece vest. Even in warm climates you may cool off at night or tour though an overly air-conditioned building.

Your jacket should be at least windproof and water-resistant with a hood. I prefer waterproof jackets unless I am going someplace where it is guaranteed not to rain. Even then, I've had to run to the store to get a cheap plastic rain poncho when a squall hit. Since then, I always pack one, no matter what the climate.

Underwear and Socks

Take 5 sets of underwear and socks for a week-long trip. Again, avoid all-cotton and go for a blend or polyester so they will dry overnight after washing. Your socks should be CoolMax.

Walking Poles

If you enjoy nordic walking or you want trekking poles for stability, you'll need to consider how you are going to carry them along. If you are traveling by air, you will need to put them in your checked luggage rather than carry-on. Policies vary, but even if an airline says you can bring them on board, you may encounter a completely different policy at the airport.
More: Traveling with Walking Poles


Select your luggage based on portability. A lightweight soft-sided rolling carryon can save your shoulders and back. A lightweight bag that converts into a backpack is also a good choice. Test it with a full load.


    I pack two pairs of shoes - one pair of my regular exercise walking shoes and then, depending on climate, a pair of comfortable sandals or a pair of leather shoes. Tourist walking needs more cushioning than regular walking - the slower pace through museums and tourist areas is tougher than a marathon.

    For rugged walking, you may need to bring along a pair of lightweight hiking boots or trail shoes. Be sure you have road-tested any shoes you bring along.

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