It seems to happen without fail: the in-transit hiccup that threatens to ruin an otherwise perfectly-planned vacation. Whether it's a missed layover, a hotel room that looks nothing like the pictures, or the missed turn that somehow adds hours to a seemingly straightforward drive, travel mishaps are often wholly preventable. Here is the advice that will help you spend more time where you're supposed to on your next vacation – relaxing, carefree at your destination.
Be Your Own Transportation
Hikers, cyclists, and paddlers have long known the pleasures of traveling under their own power. Now swimmers and runners can experience the same thrill, thanks to a new pair of specialty outfitters that create bespoke itineraries for those eager to see the world while enjoying their favorite sports.
Swimming with the Sea Lions
"Don't be surprised if the younger pups come up to check you out," says Mark Burgess, of SwimTrek, a British outfitter that offers bay-to-bay and island-to-island swimming tours. On a seven-day tour of Espiritu Santo Island, off Baja in the Sea of Cortez, you'll swim, with a boat escort, below huge sea cliffs colonized by sea lions, and you'll camp on isolated beaches. In the British Virgin Islands, you'll walk right out of a resort on Virgin Gorda, slip into the warm water, and swim from one Caribbean island to another, for a week.
As for your fitness, Burgess recommends being able to swim about a mile and a quarter continuously. "But with all our swims," he says, "we group people by pace and have safety boats following handing out drinks and snacks." And if you're not feeling it, you can always climb aboard and hitch a ride to the next island. [$1,650–$2,580; swimtrek.com]
Running Peak to Peak
Credit: Courtesy Swimtrek
The Adventure Running Company in Minnesota will arrange lodging, meals, luggage transfers, and turn-by-turn directions so that you can trail-run through North Carolina and Tennessee via the meadows and barren mountaintops on the Appalachian Trail. More extreme runners can attempt a circumnavigation of Washington's Mount Rainier via the 93-mile Wonderland Trail, through subalpine meadows below glaciers – just be prepared to run the equivalent of a trail marathon on two of the five days. [$695–$995; adventurerunningco.com]