Away from the world of fast cars, high-speed trains and large-capacity aircraft, trekking is a slower way of getting around. Best suited to difficult terrains like mountains, deserts or jungles, it's the travel equivalent of slow food. Time to see the world, meet people and digest everything slowly. Yet it's also a type of travel that isn't well known and is thought to be the preserve of young, sturdy types. Whilst it's certainly not for everyone and a minimum level of fitness is required, it's a great opportunity to see the world a different way. And such a wide variety of ways of doing it! Here's just a few of them:
Take a walk
Not your average Sunday morning or afternoon stroll, it has to be said. The word trek is derived from the Afrikaans "trekken" meaning pull or haul, so it's meant to be hard work. You can obviously walk anywhere with the right equipment and the right amount of endurance. Mountains and trails like the Appalachian Trail which runs down the eastern seabord of the USA are popular.
Take a donkey ride
Probably one of the oldest forms of trekking, it's been popular on pilgrimages since the Middle Ages onwards. These days donkeys tend to carry the luggage because they're not really built to carry the weight of an adult human being. Although you wouldn't want to get one in a bad mood. Read Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes for an idea (or just because it's a really good story).
On the back of a camel
Well suited to deserts obviously, popular with Lawrence of Arabia. Camels have the advantage of having more stamina than we do and they can go 10 days without drinking water. This makes them great beasts of burden and the ideal companion for trekking across deserts. Now which one has two humps and which one just has one? (the Dromedary (Arabian) has one and the Bactrian has two).
Get on yer bike
Quite a few people seem to have taken their bikes off to circumnavigate the world. This is obviously not for everyone, especially as people sometimes have scrapes with local authorities across South America or in China that are not always the most pleasant experiences. Staying closer to home, cycle trekking is popular on mountains and the foothills, depending on you level of expertise and physical condition.
Take a motorbike ride
Glamorised by Ewan MacGregor and Charlie Bormann in their circumnavigation of the world and then their trip to South Africa. Motorbike trekking is popular in places like Mongolia where the wide, open spaces lends themselves to burning the rubber. But as long as there's a road, or at least a semblance of one, you can trek on it. Don't forget to get off from time to time, take things easy and meet people - not just when the bike breaks down.
Travel in style on an elephant
Elephants are Asia's version of the camel, but without the attitude. Slow and dependable, they are the work horses of the jungle. You'll find plenty of elephant trekking holidays across India and Thailand so you can follow the trail of Phileas Fogg, Passepartout and the elephant in Around the World in 80 Days.
Across the Universe...well perhaps not quite yet, but it will come one day.
You can get travel insurance cover for any type of trekking break now, orienteering on Dartmoor, trekking in the Himalaya or rambling around Europe