I’m Diana Mackie, World Cancer Research Fund’s Head of Communications. I went to Funchal and Santana in Madeira in May 2023 because I needed a change of scene and was also keen to improve my fitness levels. Here are my tips for getting the most out of an adventure holiday, at home or abroad.
Find your tribe
The first thing to think about when planning an adventure holiday is who you’re going to go with. There may be a partner, family member or friend who is up for reaping the benefits of a more intense holiday experience.
But if there isn’t, don’t worry! Lots of pre-organised tours are for solo travellers or groups of people to sign up, and that way you’re guaranteed to have something in common with who you’re travelling with.
For my trip to Madeira, I arranged flights on my own but soon after I checked into my hotel I was introduced to the 11 other people in my tour group. Together we went on excursions each day, and had a healthy evening meal as a group sometimes too.
You could also take on a sponsored adventure for charity: why not do a tour, hike or other challenge for cancer prevention? Get in touch with our Fundraising team if you’re interested.
One step at a time
It can be daunting setting out on a walking trail in a different country – particularly if you’re trying to keep pace with a group or face an up or downhill climb. Set yourself mini goals, such as focusing on walking to the next prominent landmark (tree, bench etc) rather than mentally taking on the whole mountain at once.
If you can’t always keep up with the fastest members of the group, walk with a buddy away a bit behind the main walkers. I didn’t even need to join in the walks every day on my trip, as I needed a bit of time out simply to relax. It was a holiday after all.
And make sure you know what’s expected each day: for difference walking tours, you walk every day but come back to the same place. For treks and trails, someone carries your baggage to the next place so you have to make it there! In Madeira, I left my baggage at my hotel each day and just carried a day pack.
It’s all in the preparation
To get the best out of my trip, I needed to train beforehand. Madeira has plenty of ups and downs, so I made sure to strengthen my tendons by tackling a slight incline during my daily walks. This meant that although the holiday trekking tired me out at the time, I didn’t feel unduly achy later.
Think about doing walks of a similar length or intensity in the lead-up to your next active holiday. Check out local walking groups or trails closer to home – you may also make some new fitness-oriented friends.
Check you out!
So, for your next holiday, why not combine a chance to experience new cultures, foods (scabbard fish and banana, anyone?) and different climates with your workout regime? There’s so much choice out there, whether it’s wild swimming, walking or cycling holidays, or a yoga retreat. I challenge you to find something that ticks multiple boxes and look forward to hearing where your active lifestyle will take you next!
- Could you come back from holiday feeling fitter than ever?
- Why we recommend you move more
- Exercise: always a pleasure, never a chore?