Hello everyone. I have just returned from my trip to Italy and Slovenia, guess what? My feet hurt so much, this happens every time I am on holiday because I forget just how much walking I do when sightseeing. Here’s some calculations I have made: I left the AirBNB place at nine in the morning and was on my feet all day sightseeing apart for two hours for lunch and dinner – then there were the odd bus and tram rides, so let’s say all in all I sat down for three hours. I arrived back at the AirBNB place at ten at night, that means I was out for a total of 13 hours and if you deduct the three hours I sat down, then I was on my feet for ten hours that day. Even if my walking speed was very slow at just 2 km/hr (given the leisurely pace I take when on holiday, stopping to take photos every so often), that still meant I covered around 20 km that day – no wonder my feet ache so much! Here are few tips:
1. Plan your trip, don’t venture out without knowing where you are going
Often one can get a bit too excited when on holiday – you land in a city, you kinda have an idea what you wanna see; so you just dump your bags where you’re staying and head into the city center without a plan. That’s not a great idea as you may end up walking a lot more than you need; spend a few minutes with a tourist map (available at most airports, tourist information counters or even off the internet) and plan your route. Don’t be afraid to ask more than one person for the help you need: one night in Trieste, I wanted to get one of my favourite Italian dishes – spaghetti vongole (with clams) so I asked my AirBNB host for a good restaurant and she recommended somewhere really expensive. And I thought, it’s just pasta with some clams, not lobster – I’m not paying those prices. And I thought, I’m in an Italian city, how hard can it be to find a decent place that does good pasta at dinner time without paying too much?
Harder than you think actually. Without actually knowing where I was going, I headed towards the train station, thinking that there are loads of people at the main train station, surely there will be nice places to eat there. But everything I stumbled across was either closed, deserted (never a good sign) or just didn’t have any clams. As it got later, I finally settled for a place actually fairly near back where my AirBNB place was and the lagsane I had couldn’t have been more underwhelming. All that was after walking around downtown Trieste for over 90 minutes rather aimlessly! When I told my AirBNB host just how far I had walked, she gave me a different recommendation – this time for a small trattoria nearby that suited my budget and I got my spaghetti vongole meal there the next day. I supposed I had been too embarrassed to ask for a cheaper place, so she just recommended the best restaurant in her town.
2. Use public transport
It may be tempting to walk around a city – it is after all the best way to experience a city. One may even be tempted to walk to save money, especially if the journey isn’t long. However, it all adds up: 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there – before you know it, you have been walking for hours and your feet really, really hurt. You should always explore the option of using public transport: many cities will have a day-ticket option which will allow you to pay a flat fare that will grant you unlimited access to public transport for the day (or a predetermined period: 8 hours, 24 hours, 72 hours etc). If it is not too expensive, simply spend the money, get that ticket and spare yourself the walking. Your feet will be grateful at the end of the day and it is money well spent. I love riding around a city in a bus, it allows me to see a lot without having to be on my feet. You could even rent a bike if you enjoy cycling, it is far less physically demanding than walking.
3. You actually walk a lot indoors!
You would be amazed how much walking you do indoors – I’m thinking of museums, art galleries and malls. Take a large museum like the Louvre in Paris or the British museum, you could spend a few days walking around these mega museums and still have not seen everything. Some tourists practically do a very brisk walk through the museum, determined to see everything, even if they only spend a few seconds looking at each exhibit. I often do the same thing in malls I’m afraid: some malls are absolutely huge and you could walk around for hours and still not visited all the shops. Again, my solution is simple: look at the floor plan and prioritize the things you most want to see. Say you’re in a huge mall – decide which are the ten shops you definitely want to see, do them first and then decide if you are still in the mood (or have the energy and the inclination) to see say the next ten shops on your list, knowing that you’ve already done your favourites. That’s a lot more systematic than simply charging around aimlessly.
4. Keep track of how much time you have been walking
Once again, it is easy to forget just how long you’ve been walking if you’re distracted by the amazing sights of a beautiful city. Why not just set an alarm on your phone for say two hours, that’s when you allow yourself to sit down and have a coffee break, allow your feet to recover before continue walking. Furthermore, you may feel more energetic in the morning and more tired later in the day – thus you should choose to do the more ambitious, physical challenges like visit a castle in the morning when you feel fresh and plan to do something far less physically demanding like go watch a musical in the evening. Meal times are a great time to rest your feet – make sure you give yourself plenty of time to relax and enjoy your meal, don’t be in a hurry to stand up again once you’ve devoured your food.
5. Comfortable shoes and clothes
Given how far you will inevitably walk whilst on holiday, you need to treat it like sports for it is quite an intensive exercise. Sensible trainers are a must and make sure you are wearing clothes that allow you to walk around comfortably in. Yes, this is probably when tourists get a bad reputation for dressing badly, but unfortunately, something has got to be sacrificed if you are trying to protect your feet during those long days of sightseeing. Here’s something I bet many of you take for granted: socks. Make sure you wear quality socks when walking long distances, socks with holes may not bother you if you’re just watching a movie, but I bet you will feel the hole in that sock where your toe is poking through after a few hours.
So those are my five tips to make sure that you enjoy the most of your holiday. You will inevitably walk a lot on holiday – far more than you usually do (well, at least for those of us with desk jobs) so it it is important to take these simple precautions to ensure that you do not punish your feet too much whilst sightseeing. I did the AirBNB thing in Trieste and was very satisfied with the experience – have you tried AirBNB? If not, why not take this free voucher from me and get S$28 off your next booking! Many thanks for reading!