3 Takeaways from My Self-Guided Tour du Mont Blanc
Hiking in the Alps always seemed like a far-flung dream to my wife, Kelly, and I. New jobs, a cross-country move, and the birth of our son always seemed to put that dream just out of reach. When I started working at Macs, however, I realized there was no reason to put off the trip any longer, so we began planning our big family adventure. While some aspects of planning seemed to shift with the wind, we knew one thing: we wanted a self-guided adventure. The first thing people said to me when I told them my wife and I were taking Wood – our toddler – to hike parts of the Tour du Mont Blanc was, “are you crazy?” They wished us luck on the 15 hours of flights it would take us to get from our home in Colorado to Switzerland and offered their opinion on taking a 2 ½-year-old on a trip he’d never remember. They said a lot of things and asked a lot of questions, but mostly, we heard the phrase, “good luck.” When they asked why we went with a self-guided Tour of Mont Blanc, however, three main features came to mind: [caption id="attachment_25713" align="aligncenter" width="502"] My family and I embarking on our self-guided adventure.[/caption]
After working at Macs for some time, I knew that we would get the most out of our adventure with a flexible, self-guided itinerary. We needed a tour that would allow us to move hotels just once (we have a toddler!), choose how much hiking we wanted to do each day, and give us the freedom to make the trip our own – and we got one. Our self-guided itinerary offered us enough support to feel comfortable, but enough flexibility to plan for our specific needs and take opportunities as they came up. [caption id="attachment_25714" align="aligncenter" width="681"] With so much to see on the Tour du Mont Blanc, it was great to travel at our own pace.[/caption]
2. Culture and Authenticity
Not only was the scenery and the hiking itself absolutely spectacular, but seeing Wood dive into a new culture was beyond special. He tried out a new language (he instantly picked up that saying “Bonjour” to fellow trekkers would elicit a smile and a laugh), figured out that Macaroons might be the best thing he has ever tried, and got to ride every new mode of transportation that a boy could ever want. Rather than shying away from a new culture, he embraced it. Going self-guided offered us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture without a big tour group or strict itinerary getting in the way. [caption id="attachment_25715" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Discovering new horizons on the Tour du Mont Blanc.[/caption]
3. Personalized Support
The personalized support that we received traveling self-guided with Macs is what really made our Classic Walks of Mont Blanc trip perfect. Cribs were waiting for us in each of our rooms, a diaper genie was provided, car seats were arranged for our private airport transfers. Chamonix, France and Courmayeur, Italy – the two towns highlighted on our trip – were ideal for young children. We discovered an amazing playground just a short walk from our hotel, and the train/bus/cable car accessibility was ideal for getting around without a car. Because we received such wonderful support, we were all able to relax and enjoy our time to the fullest. [caption id="attachment_25716" align="aligncenter" width="606"] With the support of a self-guided itinerary, we were able to adventure more freely.[/caption]
Bottom Line: Self-Guided is the Way to Travel!
The Tour du Mont Blanc is an incredible journey no matter how you look at it. That said, it was the self-guided aspect of our trip that let us enjoy our time that much more. The fact that self-guided itineraries offer flexibility and an authentic experience, all while providing personalized support, helped us focus on spending time with each other. We loved carrying our son and have some amazing memories (and the photos to go with) that we can’t wait to share with him as he grows. Next up for us is the West Highland Way in Scotland or the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan. If you're interested in self-guided travel, check out our blog post on self-guided travel in England or our post about the rewards of going self-guided for advice and inspiration. For more info about the Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary featured in this post, take a look at our Classic Walks of Mont Blanc itinerary, read about how fit you should be to take on this trek, or contact one of our specialists to create your very own self-guided adventure.