Ask Me Anything About Active Travel!

Kristen Czudak
Sep 18, 2018

Active travel is the new travel! The best way to explore this world is with your own two feet, whether that is running a race in a new country, backpacking a new National Park, or summitting your first 14'er!

I have run half marathons in countries, states, and National Parks around the world, most recently conquering 5,000 steps at the Great Wall Marathon! I have summmitted the state high points of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Arkansas, with a goal to reach all fifty.  I have camped, hiked, and backpacked across the United States, most recently in Utah where I inadvertently got lost for twenty-two hours!

If you are interested in active travel, ask me anything! Want to know a good training program for your first half marathon? What essential backpacking gear you need for a multi-day trek?  What to expect when hiking at high altitude? Curious where I stand on the topic of solo hiking? Where are my favorite locations for "runcations"? I've got you covered!

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Hi, have you been anywhere that you enjoyed more than others? Also what places had the best internet?

Sep 20, 3:27PM EDT0

Hi all, and thanks for joining me for my AMA on all things active travel! I've enjoyed answering all of your fantastic and intriguing questions!

Sep 18, 7:57PM EDT0
Apart from digitalisation, which other major trends are likely to influence the work of branding and tech professionals in the years ahead?
Sep 15, 4:05PM EDT0

Humprey, I'm afraid I don't have a great answer for future tech trends, but I'd love to answer any questions you have regarding active travel!

Sep 17, 9:44AM EDT0
What are some of the most adventurous tours for active travel in Europe?
Sep 15, 3:14PM EDT0

I have not personally partaken in any adventure tours in Europe, although I hope someday I can complete a marathon or hike in that continent.  I'm sure with all the mountain ranges there are plenty of tours operating for hiking, and I know that almost all the major European cities, such as London, Paris, Berlin, etc., all have marathon and running events.  If you're looking for options like that, I would check an international race schedule!

Sep 17, 9:50AM EDT0
Which would you consider the main challenges in connection with Loginextsolutions and its branding?
Sep 15, 8:59AM EDT0


I am not familiar with Loginextsolutions, but I would love to answer any questions you have regarding active travel!

Sep 17, 9:50AM EDT0
With so much calorie burning with walk and race, how do you maintain your weight? What's your diet like?
Sep 14, 4:23PM EDT0

I have to admit, when I first started running, I went a little overboard with the concept of "carb loading".  Carb loading is important at times, but there's a healthy way of doing it, and that's the important thing.  It is possible to actually gain weight while training for a race, if you are not fueling correctly.  I notice that my body definitely craves bread, rice, pasta, etc. while I'm training, but I try to make a more conscientious effort of not necessarily eliminating those things from my diet, but making them a better option, such as choosing whole grain.  It's tempting to eat everything in sight when you're metabolism is cranked all the way up from training, but it's important to have enough of the right caloric intake.  A typical day for me looks like cereal and milk for breakfast, yogurt and vegetables for lunch, and a form of healthy carb for dinner, such as whole grain pasta or sweet potatoes.  Before I run, my go to's are usually a banana, toast or English muffin, and peanut butter.  Throughout the day, if I find I need a little more, nuts and fruit are what I typically go to.  

Sep 17, 9:56AM EDT0
How did walking around the world impact your life? What are the main lessons you drew from your travels?
Sep 13, 5:30PM EDT0

Terry, I began traveling when I was younger, because my mother always told me that travel is the best education.  I completely agree with her.  It has opened my own eyes to different perspectives, different experiences, different people, and more personal growth than I can measure.  I have met people with such pure joy at life, with much less physical belongings than me.  I have met individuals that have stepped in to help me in a traveling crisis, with no ulterior motivation.  I have engaged in conversations with fellow travelers about politics, and learned more from their outside views than I have from my own country's media. I have had to learn to adapt and problem solve when faced with cultural differences, language barriers, and simply getting lost! I have learned that for me, traveling creates memories, and memories are far, far more valuable than things.  I have sat on an empty beach in Costa Rica with my sister and talked about our future husbands and future dreams for our lives. I have bought fresh bread from the markets in Amman with my aunt.  I have heard the story of my anscestors from my grandmother while traveling across the country via train.  I have felt the emotions of standing in significant places across the world, like the Wailing Wall, and been able to understand why they mean so much to so many.  I have watched three world religions and cultures live side by side in a square mile in Old Jerusalem.  I have worked in orphanages in Kenya, and met displaced refugees, and time and again, I gain more from them than they do from me.  

When I started implementing an active travel lifestyle ten years ago, I still have searched for ways to incorporate all these aspects into my current travels, in addition to accomplishing whatever goal I am chasing! I think active travel really allows you to appreciate the place you are in, to weave yourself into its tapestry, to look for ways to experience that place and leave something behind, and not just search for what that place is going to give to you!

Sep 14, 11:04AM EDT0
When did you first decide that you wanted to walk around the world, and why?
Sep 13, 4:45PM EDT0

I think in our current society, often we are inundated with ideas of what travel and vacations should look like: relaxing on the beach, frosty margaritas, luxury and pampering.  And there is nothing wrong with those preferences, but I found myself longing for a different kind of vacation, one in which I could really weave myself into the tapestry of a place and truly experience it on a very personal level.  I also am a very goal oriented individual, and so I found active travel to be the best marriage of these two things.  I now travel to accomplish goals, specfically, active travel goals.  I am in the double digits now for half marathons completed, and I have run them in countries, states, and national parks around the world.  I have hiked in remote places like Iceland, and state parks right here in my own native Texas, like Palo Duro State Park.  I am also currently attempting to summit the high points of all 50 states, which, of course, will take me to every state in the U.S. hopefully! So active travel really has opened up a wide variety of options for me as far as traveling goes!

Sep 14, 11:08AM EDT0
What is the most important thing someone should takeaway from traveling?
Sep 13, 10:54AM EDT0

Accomplish something! I think setting a goal, and then accomplishing that goal in a new place, is the perfect marriage! But also just as importantly, I believe active travel gives you a chance to really experience a new place in a very personal way.  Society is telling us that we should travel and look for ways that that place can give us something, or what we should expect that place to do for us.  Active travel allows you to weave yourself into the tapestry of a location, to leave something behind, a literal "footprint".  It changes you in a very personal way, and I don't think there are any other forms of traveling that can leave you with as much personal growth as active travel can.

Sep 14, 11:10AM EDT0
What is the most useful thing you pack during your active travel?
Sep 12, 6:55PM EDT0

Good question, and hard to narrow down I guess.  Depends on what type of active travel I am partaking in.  Funny enough, the first thing that pops into my head as one of my favorite basics is Chapstick! I cannot underestimate the value to me of good lip protection.  Whether that is because I'm running outside for thirteen miles, hiking at high altitudes, etc., I would be miserable with chapped lips! On a more serious note, I would say one of my most important pieces of gear is good footwear.  I have my go to's for whether I am running a road race, trail run, or hiking.  For hiking, I would say the other must have useful items are a comfortable, sturdy backpack, and lightweight basic essentials such as a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.  I have guides on my blog,, that lay out all the gear you need for any type of active travel.  

Sep 13, 9:56AM EDT0
What's the upcoming marathon event that you will be participating in? Are you excited about it?
Sep 11, 8:06PM EDT0

Oh yes, I am thrilled about my next marathon event! I will be taking on a half marathon trail race at Big Bend National Park in February.  This is a park I have been dying to make it to for years, I just adore west Texas! I cannot wait to run through the canyons, mountains, and expansive deserts there, as well as do some additional hikes afterwards.  I also am looking to participate in a trail run in the nearby Franklin Mountains in November, as well as another 10k trail run in Caprock Canyons State Park in April.  Can you see a theme here?  I have a special place in my heart for west Texas, and I am really immersing myself this year.  These three races will also be among the first long distance trail runs I have participated in, and so I am looking forward to broadening my running horizons.  

If you would like to follow along on my future runs, check out my blog Yonderlust Ramblings!

Last edited @ Sep 18, 7:59PM EDT.
Sep 13, 9:59AM EDT0
What is the role of diet for someone considering active travel?
Sep 11, 2:44AM EDT0

It is crucial! It's like fuel for a car, when you are in the process of training for that next goal.  You will hear runners in particular talking about "carb loading", and although it is tempting to just pig out on pizza (which I am totally guilty of at times), and feel like that is justified because you run, it's more than that.  You have to be intentional and conscious in your nutrition choices, and there is a healthy way to carb load.  You want foods that are easily digestible, have healthy fats, and of course provide plenty of beneficial energy.  Think whole grain bread, pasta, and cereal, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables, dairy such as eggs and yogurt, and nuts, just to name a few.  If you tend towards hiking for your active travel, then these same foods will be beneficial to you as well, and when hiking, it's important to bring along these same types of foods, but in a compact and lightweight form.  Think tuna packets, trail mix, and vegetables.  Water is the other obvious big one that cannot be underestimated for any type of active travel.  And whatever diet you follow in the months, weeks, and days leading up to your race, hike, etc., make sure to follow that same regimen on race morning or the day of your hike.  It's not advisable to mix up your regular diet routine the day of your big event, stick to what your body is used to running on.

Sep 13, 10:04AM EDT0
Who’s the most interesting person you have met along the way?
Sep 10, 9:45PM EDT0

Thinking about how to answer this question actually made me tear up a little bit.  Julie comes to mind first.  I am currently in the process of attempting to summit all 50 state high points, and the first one I ever did was Guadalupe Peak in Texas.  That also happened to be my first solo hike.  I met Julie in the Visitor's Center bathroom as I was preparing to head out on the hike.  She asked where I was from, and then we talked about the hike, at which point she discovered I was there doing it by myself.  She looked me straight in the eyes and told me she was proud of me for doing that hike on my own.  She told me she would keep an eye out for me on the trail.  I ended up seeing her again as I was making my descent down from the summit hours later, and we stopped and chatted again.  She offered so much comradery, and again she told me she was so impressed and proud of me for that accomplishment. It was my first real experience with the type of support that hikers offer each other, and how we relish in each other's accomplishments, whether we really know each other or not.  I wish I knew Julie's last name so I could reach out to her.  The second memory that comes to mind is Doug and Irva, who I met under not ideal circumstances in Utah this past summer.  After being lost in the forest for twenty-two hours, I was hoping and praying that when I finally made it out and found the trailhead, there would be someone there to help me.  I found Doug and Irva, and without hesitation they offered to give me a ride, bought me lunch, and drove me two hours to rendezvous with my family members.  They later told my mother that they did for me what they would hope anyone would do for their own children if they were lost, and it really touched me deeply.  That's just the surface though, I have met so many other amazing people through running and hiking events.  This past summer, I was able to run the Great Wall Half Marathon, which brought together runners from all over the world, and I am fortunate enough to still be in touch with some of them!

Sep 13, 10:11AM EDT0
What was a typical day like when you were first starting out and how has that shifted?
Sep 10, 11:32AM EDT0

Rough.  Starting out with training for any active travel activity is rough.  It means commiting to the time involvement, rearranging your schedule, pushing through the mental voices that tell you to just relax and watch Netflix, and changing up your nutrition.  Not to mention to aches, pains, and blisters that often accompany training.  Now ten years into this type of lifestyle, I can see how much it has changed.  Honestly, there are some days that it feels like it's almost a religion, but this lifestyle has a way of slowly interweaving itself seamlessly over time.  I have gotten used to scheduling what days I am going to be training each week, what I need to eat, and when I need to rest.  

Sep 13, 10:17AM EDT0
Before going for a marathon, what are some of the things you need to know especially when it comes to the terrain?
Sep 8, 8:44PM EDT0

There are road races, and there are trail races, and it's important to know which one you are choosing, and how that affects your preparation.  First of all, you will want to invest in different types of shoes based on the terrain.  A trail running shoe is going to offer more grip than a road running shoe.  I also like to look at the course description and elevation map prior to taking on a race.  Know what to expect, and if it matches your ability levels.  There are races that are extremely hilly, or higher elevation, and then there are those that are flatter and more suited to "personal record" chasers.  Knowing what type of marathon you are preparing for, also helps you to tailor your training.  There are some marathons where it may be beneficial to mix in more hills in your training, and such.  And for race day, it helps to be psychologically prepared for what lies ahead.  Know where those hills are going to be, where the downhills are, where the flat stretches are.  It is all very crucial to your success.  

Sep 13, 10:21AM EDT0
Is active travel strictly meant for people of high fitness or can anyone who wants to and is willing to make the effort able to get it done?
Sep 8, 4:25PM EDT0

I really do believe it is for anyone.  Active travel can span a broad spectrum of activities: cycling, running, hiking, boating, etc.  It absolutely does take commitment and preparation though.  Ten years ago, I could not run a mile, and I hated running.  I am still not nearly as fit as I would like to be, and trust me, I hate that I have no upper body strength no matter what I do.  But I made running a part of my lifestyle a decade ago, and now it has woven itself into my current life.  But it took a lot of work and dedication, and I don't think there is any shortcut to that.  No matter what, it takes physical work, time commitment, planning, and at least a small amount of financial investment.  But it is possible for anyone.  Active travel doesn't mean having to hop on a plane and fly to an exotic location.  One of my favorite pasttimes is just going for a short run in a new local park that I haven't visited before.  It can happen in your own neighborhood right around the corner.  

Sep 13, 10:25AM EDT0
What are some of the precautions you take when going on a high altitude hike?
Sep 7, 9:27AM EDT0

High altitude hikes are a different breed.  I have a list of things I do (and things NOT to do) on my blog,  In addition to the guide I outline there for hiking in general, when it comes to high altitude, there are a few extra things you need to be aware of.  Most importantly, is watching for the warning signs of altitude sickness.  

Altitude sickness is caused by the lowered amounts of oxygen available at higher altitudes.  Symptoms can look like headaches, dizziness, aches, and nausea.  The most life threatening form of altitude sickness is caused by a buildup of fluid in the lungs or on the brain, and require immediate emergency treatment.  

Most people that suffer from high altitude sickness show symptoms resembling the aforementioned headaches, nausea, or dizziness.  If you are hiking at high altitude and experience any of these, as well as fatigue, loss of appetite, or vomiting, you may be experiencing symptoms.  They can become better with acclimation, but if you are in the process of summitting, say, a 14'er, and you begin to experience these symptoms, you should begin to descend immediately.  I have read mixed reviews about whether over the counter medications, such as Tylenol, can help alleviate symptoms.  I believe the best treatment is simply to descend. 

If you have the chance, allow your body a day or two to acclimate to high altitude, before taking on such a hike.  Altitude sickness can come on at elevations starting as low as 8,000 feet, so you don't have to be at the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado to be on the watch for symptoms.  

Aside from altitude sickness, a couple of other precautions or preparations I take are to plan for the different terrain possible.  Generally, high altitude involves steeper paths, and can often be rocky with rock slides and rock scrambles.  Hiking boots with ankle support and increased sole grip are often very helpful for these types of terrains.  

Sep 14, 10:04AM EDT0
What amazing places have you visited since you began your active travel path?
Sep 6, 6:23PM EDT0

Active travel has introduced me to so many amazing places.  Some of them I knew would be exotic, and others surprised me by hiding in plain sight right around the corner.  

West Texas is one of my favorite places in this world.  It gets a bad rap for being flat and boring, but if you ever have the chance to hike or run through Big Bend, Palo Duro Canyon, or Caprock Canyon, you will feel differently.  I've seen the Golden Gate Bridge in pictures countless times, but there is something exhilarating getting to run across it in person! I've gotten to take 5,000 grueling steps on the Great Wall Marathon, and simultaneously have a chance to see what daily life looks like in rural China.  Most people see Yellowstone from the main park roads, I got to experience its backcountry as I ran through unmarked trails at the Yellowstone Half Marathon.  I've stood on the top of the highest peaks in the Southwest, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah! I've explored the cold, windy, black beaches of Iceland, as well as the balmy, soft beaches of Costa Rica on foot! 

My upcoming hikes will focus on visiting the highest points of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. My next "runcations" will include a 5k trail run through Franklin Mountains State Park outside El Paso. a half marathon trail run at Big Bend, and a 10k trail run through Caprock Canyons State Park outside Amarillo.  Next year I plan to run the Petra Half Marathon in Jordan, followed by the Glacier National Park half marathon in Montana, as well as the Artic Circle Half Marathon in Greenland.  Follow along with me on my blog, Yonderlust Ramblings!

Sep 14, 10:19AM EDT0
What was it like when you got lost in Utah? How did you find your way back? Was it scary?
Sep 6, 1:45PM EDT0

I made a lot of mistakes on that hike, based on a lot of poor assumptions.  I learned a great deal about what not to do on a hike.  I actually wrote out my experience in detail on the blog, if you want to read more in depth.  Basically, I inadvertently got separated from my group, and then lost the trail futher out.  I figured out very quickly the power of staying calm.  I was able to formulate a plan, and think clearly.  What got me to safety was being able to locate a stream that was running downstream.  I had a strong feeling that a water source running downstream would lead me to some kind of civilization.  After several hours and miles, I was able to locate a trail by the stream, and began to follow it out.  I did not know how long I would have to follow it until I reached help, and ultimately, knew I would probably be spending the night in the forest.  Unfortunately, I was underprepared. I stopped to say a quick prayer, and I have to say that I did not feel scared or alone that night.  I made a plan for putting together the best shelter I could with limited resources, and made the best of it.  Probably the most surreal part of the night was watching the sky in the distance light up with flashes of lighting, illuminating the ridges of the distant mountain ranges.  I knew if that rain reached me, it could turn my situation potentially lifethreatening, as I would be in a possible hypothermic condition if I were to get wet.  The storm never reached me.  I was able to follow the trail out the next morning, and after about twenty-two hours and an extra 20 miles or so, reached a trailhead and subsequent help.  Although it was easily my most botched traveling experience ever, I am still very grateful for it.  I learned a lot, and grew a lot personally.  I welcome you to check out my post and read the whole story, and then check out some of my guides to hiking safety at Yonderlust Ramblings!

Sep 14, 10:28AM EDT0
What are the benefits of choosing active travel when traveling?
Sep 6, 7:52AM EDT0

Active travel allows you to marry two great concepts: travel goals! Active travel also enables you to see a different side of a location, and I have often found that active travel is the best way to get intimately acquainted with a new spot.  For example, I have been to New Orleans twice.  I have done all the touristy things, eaten at all the recommended places, and seen all the sights.  Then on my 2nd trip, I decided to go for a run and get "lost" in NOLA.  I ran through the French Quarter, past Cafe Du Monde, and into a beautiful little park called Crescent Park.  This trail led me parallel to the Mississippi River, past the ferry full of waving passengers, past the odd art installments, past the hauntingly beautiful grafitti-ed buildings, past old shipyards and docks, and through some local Louisiana foliage.  It is by far my favorite thing I have experienced in NOLA.

I also have visited Yellowstone National Park for a half marathon.  Normally when you visit Yellowstone, you drive through the park, in a throng of other visitors, to see the sights.  I got to run through the backcountry of Yellowstone during my race, past wildflowers, empty streams, and isolated pastures.  It was something not a lot of people get to see or experience in Yellowstone, and I was able to by pursuing an active travel opportunity there!

Sep 14, 10:34AM EDT0
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