How to Properly Train for Your World Travel Adventures

Some of the world’s great sights (such as the ancient Mayan city of Coba on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico) include a fair amount of walking

Last week, in my latest installment on preparing for world travel, I encouraged you to check with your physician or, at a minimum, do a very honest self-assessment before starting a conditioning schedule to meet your adventure dreams. This week, I’d like to discuss progressive training, a method of gradually conditioning your body, to meet the demands of your travel destination. I will also provide you with a generic training plan. In future posts, I will discuss specific goals like hiking the John Muir Trail in California and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Though specific, the training methods for these locations can be modified to meet your needs.


Progressive training methods have been in practice for decades. Progressive training is used to help a person meet rehabilitation goals, to help runners prepare for a long race such as a marathon, or, in our case, to help us increase our fitness in light of the anticipated demands of our travel destinations. Simply put, progressive training is a routine of work and recovery leading to increased physical fitness. Your work—the effort you put into conditioning over weeks of progressively harder workouts—followed by a rest period (usually one week out of every three to four weeks) will result in greater strength and stamina (and happiness!) on the trail. This method of training may sound daunting at first, but the additional work adds up and your body quickly adapts.


It depends—your training program will start at your current level of physical fitness. If you spend most of your waking hours at a desk doing little exercise, start out slow. If you are already reasonably fit (you exercise a minimum of 150 minutes per week), then add more walking to your usual routine and make the most of it.

A very simple, easy-to-remember strategy I recommend is to  enjoy walking for an hour every day. If your schedule allows, work up to walking for two hours a day. In the weeks before your trek, complete some longer walks (with a hill or two) while wearing your loaded backpack. An alternative strategy (if you are one who likes more comprehensive guidance) is to follow a training plan. I recommend the one below. Whichever method you choose, take it easy by gradually increasing your time spent training and working up to the distance you need to cover each day on your trip abroad.


This is a progressive training plan that builds up daily and weekly training effort as your departure date approaches. This is an ideal plan because you can easily modify it to meet your own needs (it is available here as an Excel spreadsheet you can customize). For example, if your goal is to take an organized bus tour across Europe, you may check with the tour company for expected walking distances and customize your plan with that information.

This ten-week training plan, as shown below, assumes that your eventual goal is to walk 20 km (12.4 mi.) per day on a long trek (of a week or more). This daily distance is just an average and some training days will include  more walking than 20 km per day. This plan starts ten weeks prior to your desired start date. Start training earlier if you can; do more if you can. But your pace should remain gradual  so you can avoid so-called overuse injuries such as tendinitis and blisters. You may check out the British Heart Foundation’s walking training schedules for other plans.

Weeks Prior

Weekly Total

km (mi.)

Maximum Daily

km (mi.)


1*DD 20 km (12.4 mi.) 0.25*DD

5 km (3.1 mi.)


1*DD 20 km (12.4 mi.) 0.50*DD 10 km (6.2 mi.)



40 km (24.8 mi.)


10 km (6.2 mi.)

7 3*DD 60 km (37.2 mi.) 0.75*DD

15 km (9.3 mi.)

6 2*DD 40 km (24.8 mi.) 0.75*DD

15 km (9.3 mi.)


3*DD 60 km (37.2 mi.) 0.75*DD 15 km (9.3 mi.)
4 4*DD 80 km (49.6 mi.) 0.75*DD

15 km (9.3 mi.)

Carrying a loaded backpack similar to your travel plans


3*DD 60 km (37.2 mi.) 1*DD

20 km (12.4 mi.)

Carrying a loaded backpack similar to your travel plans


4*DD 80 km (49.6 mi.) 1*DD

20 km (12.4 mi.)

Carrying a loaded backpack similar to your travel plans


3*DD 60 km (37.2 mi.) 1*DD

20 km (12.4 mi.)

Carrying a loaded backpack similar to your travel plans

  Example training schedule using 20 km as the daily distance

Everyone has a different level of preparation, youthfulness, and awareness of his or her own capacity. With adequate preparation, you—the trekker—will enjoy your journey. Know your pace and stay with it as long as it works for you. Whether it’s your body’s biorhythms, the phase of the moon, or your own particular mix of talent, experience, and training, some days will be better than others. So stick with your pace as long as it works, rest when needed, and make adjustments to remain injury free, to meet your goals, and to enjoy your time on the trail.

Our next post in this series will show a training schedule for walking the John Muir Trail, a very popular 215-mile wilderness trek through the central alpine landscape of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada mountain range By Kaitymh - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada mountain range. Photo credit: Kaitymh, Creative Commons CC by SA 4.0


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