Ryder-Walker Frequently Asked Questions

BOOKING A TREK

  • Making this decision really depends on what type of experience you are looking for. If you would like a stress-free trek without having to make all the decisions, a guided trek is for you. From luggage transfers and dinner reservations to choosing the perfect trail for the weather that day, you don’t have to worry about a thing. The guided trips are tailored to meet the group’s needs and with two guides groups can split up according to ability. The guides are also great to have on the trail to communicate with the locals and talk to about the region where you’re hiking. Many local treasures are known only to our guides such as an off the beaten path secret picnic spot, trail, or restaurant!
  • All of our self-guided trips are easy to navigate and run smoothly. Some of the pros of self-guided is that there’s no pressure to accommodate others and ultimately you can do whatever you want as long as you make it to all of your hotel reservations. Be aware that we do not have Ryder-Walker employees in the area when you are traveling self-guided. You are welcome to contact our office for questions (keeping in mind the time difference – USA Mountain Standard Time) and the staff at your accommodations, taxi drivers, train and bus station employees, etc. are all good people to ask for help!
  • The only restriction for your start date is that it cannot be the same as our Guided group for that trip. Otherwise, as long as you choose a date within the hiking season, the start date is up to you! Visit Guided Trek Dates on the website.
  • Self-Guided and Private Guided: Completely up to you! Keep in mind, it can be difficult to book accommodations for large groups, say 10 or more people.
  • Guided: We typically consider a trip “sold out” when 10 – 13 people have signed up. A few of our trips are limited more by space in accommodations and/or vehicles, so be sure to ask if you’re interested in a specific trip.
  • Ryder-Walker does not enforce any age restrictions. This means that, although we will give you our best advice, it is ultimately up to you to determine who is and isn’t capable of embarking on a trip.
  • Always book as soon as possible! The sooner you commit to a trip, the better chance we have of getting you into the best accommodations and in private rooms in huts. Two – three months in advance is usually not a problem, unless your trip is during an especially busy time of year. It’s important to note that we collect final payment 90 days before a trip starts, which means we collect full payment from anyone who signs up within 90 days of their trip start date.
  • Yes, and yes! We highly recommend purchasing trip insurance. Whether or not you have any expectations of needing it, you truly never know when an injury, family emergency, etc. might get in the way of your travel. We partner with TravelEx, but you are welcome to use any company you’d like. When you sign up, we will send you information on how to get in touch with TravelEx.

ACCOMMODATIONS

  • The trip cost includes the “standard” version of whichever type of room you select – Double: 1 double bed, Twin: 2 separate single beds, or Single: 1 single bed. If you are interested in a different type of room such as a room for 3 or 4 people, or upgrades, these options will vary depending on the trip you choose, availability, and will likely result in extra costs.
  • The base cost of our trips includes “standard” hotel rooms, meaning the most basic room offered of whichever type you have chosen (double, twin, or single). If you would like us to inquire for other types of rooms – whether you’re hoping for mountain views, a balcony, a larger bed, a suite, a room for 3 people, etc. – these will come at an extra cost.
  • This is trip dependent, but most accommodations do have WiFi, and you will have cell service on many of the hiking trails where we send you. In rare cases in Europe, you will not have reception while on the trail. Hotels do have Wifi, most in your rooms, but some in a common area like the lobby, restaurant, or bar. Many high alpine huts usually do not offer WiFi.
  • This varies by trip, but it’s less common to have a hairdryer in your room when traveling abroad than it is in the States. Also, toiletries are typically less abundant. We always recommend bringing travel size bottles of what you need.
  • It’s best to bring a travel-size bottle of laundry detergent and wash clothing in the sink at your accommodations. This is ideal for hiking clothing, which is usually quick-drying and will be able to be worn as soon as the next day. Another option is to visit a local laundromat (available in most gateway cities and bigger mountain towns) – time consuming, but cheap. Many hotels, in the Alps especially, also offer laundry service. This is typically quite expensive, and a 24-hour turn around may not be possible or it may cost extra.

MEALS

  • This means that breakfast and dinner are included at your accommodation. In most cases, breakfast is a buffet and dinner will either be a set menu or include limited options, not a la carte!
  • If you let us know when you sign up about any dietary restrictions, we will be sure to communicate those needs to all of your accommodations. Avoiding gluten, dairy, and meat can be challenging in certain parts of the world, but for the most part our clients do not have a problem. If your diet is particularly restricted, make sure to bring supplements and your favorite bars/snacks/nuts/etc. from home.
  • You will want to have something other than hiking clothes to wear around town and in restaurants, but it is still very casual. Men are never required to have a jacket, or women a skirt or dress.

TRAVEL

  • This is tricky, because flight prices fluctuate so much. Ideally, your Ryder-Walker accommodations will all be confirmed before you purchase flights. However, use your best judgment, as every situation is different. If you’ve planned well in advance, then you will likely have no problem whether you purchase your flights before or after we have your trip confirmed. If you have time in your schedule to add an extra day on the front end of the trip we do recommend that. This gives you a buffer, in case a flight is delayed or missed, and you will not miss out on any trekking days.
  • Specific information about luggage restrictions will be provided in your final package (some trips do have strict restrictions such as weight and type of material), however, in general we suggest having only one piece of luggage in addition to your backpack. If you are embarking on other travels before/after your trek, storing luggage is the best way to go.
  • If you travel before or after a trip in the Swiss Alps, a rail pass will most likely save you money. For more information visit travel passes for Switzerland.
  • Most other European countries do not offer travel cards suitable for short-term and foreign travelers. Depending on your trip, we recommend inquiring upon arrival at the transportation desk at the airport or at a train station.
  • Typically, it is completely safe to purchase tickets at the stations when you arrive to catch your train or bus, but get there with a few extra minutes to do so. There are a few specific situations where we recommend advance purchase; these will be laid out in your final package and/or you can ask our staff for this information regarding specific trips.
  • Virtually every Ryder-Walker trip does not include transportation to your first accommodation. Your customized final booklets will contain details on how to use public transportation for this. Alternatively, Ryder-Walker can arrange for a private taxi at an extra cost. Same goes for departure from your last accommodation to wherever you are headed next!

SUPPORT

  • Guided Treks: Meet your guides and other guests at 7pm for welcome drinks and dinner at the first hotel – more information is included in your final materials.
  • Self-Guided Treks: Independent travelers will not have a Ryder-Walker employee on location. In an emergency, always call local emergency services! For any logistical questions, or issues that do not need to be solved right away, you can contact the Ryder-Walker office at adventure@ryderwalker.com or +1 970 728 6481 or 888 586 8365. Remember, we’re probably about 8 hours behind you, so it’s a good idea to look over your materials the afternoon or evening before each hike!
  • If you need assistance and we are not available our accommodations partners are a great resource.

ON THE TRAIL

  • We send self-guided guests a comprehensive package 30 days prior to departure that includes four-color topographical hiking maps with the routes highlighted, detailed written hike descriptions, and customized travel itineraries. Most treks receive a large-scale overview map as well.
  • This can vary depending on your hike each day, but we like to be on the trail no later than 9:00. If you are on a more challenging trip, though, you’ll most likely want to start a little earlier!
  • Many of our trips will have you passing by huts and/or farms where you can fill up your water bottle. Generally, if the water flows out of a faucet or fountain, it is safe to drink. Be sure to read your customized final package when you receive it for more details or ask our staff about a specific trip.
  • Bathrooms are generally only available in restaurants, huts, and berghauses along the way. Make sure to have some change handy as they sometimes charge if you don’t purchase anything else. Otherwise, you will have to stop in nature.
  • Most of your hiking days will get you to your hotel with a couple of hours to spare before dinner time. We recommend booking extra nights in a town that you want to spend some quality time exploring! We are happy to make recommendations.
  • If you are injured, you can choose to transfer between towns, either by bus, train, or taxi. Specifics for how to do this will be in your final package. You can also ask the hotel for assistance to recommend a bus/train/taxi to the next destination.
  • Bad weather may prevent you from doing the entire hike. Check your daily hike descriptions – most have a shorter or easier option. If not, we recommend you ask the staff at your accommodation or the local tourism office for a recommended route or other activities. You may have to default to public transportation or private taxi to the next destination.

EQUIPMENT

  • For trips where you will have access to your luggage throughout the trip, we recommend a 20 to 30-liter backpack. If you have any nights without luggage, either pack extra light, or add a few liters to the size of your pack. Keep it to the essentials, but it is better to have extra space in a big bag than not enough room to carry you want.

For a number of years Ryder-Walker and its guides have been reviewing mapping software as it becomes available while we work to build our own proprietary applications. All have strengths and weaknesses and in the absence of perfection at this time here are our favorites:

GAIA

    • Platforms: iOS, Android – Price: Basic Free, Member US$19.99, Premium US$39.99
      This app is more intricate and may take a while to learn. Used by professionals in the field. International use.

All Trails

    • Platforms: iOS, Android – Price: Basic Free, Premium US$29.99 per year (lifetime option available)
      Great hiking in the USA.

Mapy.cz

    • Platforms: iOS 11.0, Android, Windows Phone – Price: Free
      Great for hiking in Europe.

Kamoot for hiking trails

    • Platforms: iOS, Android – Price: Free, Member US$29.99, Premium US$4.99/month
      Great for hiking in the USA and International.

GENERAL TRIP INFORMATION

  • The amount of cash you will need will vary by trip, but we always recommend having some with you. Exchange offices typically have the worst rates, so your best bet is to just get cash from an ATM – be sure to check on what fees you might be charged for doing this, but it’s usually still worth it. Read your customized final package for details.
  • This is trip dependent, but something to keep in mind. We have many trips that are close to sea level, and our alpine trips in Europe typically stay below 10,000 ft, with the towns between 3,000 ft. and 6,000 ft. People often have different thresholds, but 8000 ft is commonly thought of as the lowest elevation where symptoms are more likely to occur. Common symptoms include nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, drowsiness, and trouble sleeping.
  • There is a lot you can do on your own to avoid these symptoms. First and foremost, drink lots of water! Second, if you are able to add extra days to the beginning of your trip, this will allow you to acclimate to the elevation. Third, over-the-counter pain and nausea medication is also a good idea to have with you. And lastly, you can always talk to your doctor in advance about prescription medication. If you experience symptoms while on your trip and are unable to hike, there’s no shame in taking time off to rest and/or seek medical treatment; you’ll be glad you did.

TRIP SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

Here are some other common questions we hear from our clients. The answers to these questions vary from trip to trip and will be answered in your customized final package that you receive 30 days prior to your departure.

If you’re curious about these things before you book, feel free to ask a Ryder-Walker staff member.

    • Where can I get lunches on the trail? Will the hotels pack my lunch?
    • What kind of weather can I expect?
    • What is the elevation on the trail and in the towns?
    • Do I need a sleep sheet or travel towel?