While "preparation" refers to those steps necessary to physically and mentally prepare for an excursion, "planning" refers to the process of shaping it in a way that all team members will be able to enjoy it. 

Here we presents some questions and tools we use to prepare our hikes.

During the planning phase, you will estimate the time you will need and therefore you will have an understanding of the magnitude of the day. You will pack your backpack consequently.consequentely 


We divide the planning in 2 phases:

  1. In the first, more general phase, the team is formed, the geographical area chosen, as well as the season of the hike.
  2. In the second phase, a route is finally drawn, which meets everybody's capabilities. Escape routes (defined here as tracks you can take to rapidly reach a town in case of emergency) are identified, huts contacted to confirm availability...


1. General planning


We propose here a series of questions to consider when planning an excursion.


Who will join you on your next adventure?

If you are going along with your little one, then you already know your limits, but the moment somebody else joins your team, then you need to be aware of his/her strengths and weakness.

Knowing your team could either mean that you have to narrow down hiking options, or that you can try to do something a bit harder, if somebody is willing to carry some of your weight...


Is a dog also joining the team? In that case keep in mind that not all mountain huts will allow you to keep him/her with you overnight. There are a number of backpacks also available for dogs, but evaluate carefully how much weight the can dog carry without damaging his/her back and hips. 


Timing makes such a difference!

In terms of seasons, you will encounter different temperatures (think about the weight of your clothing!), temperature variations between morning and evening, probability of rain or extreme events.

In terms of high versus low tourist season, there will be a difference in beds availability, number of encounters on the trail (are they welcome or not for you?), price... 

Some huts are open only for the summer season in the Alps.


Think about the area you would like to explore, but also what kind of ecosystem you are interested in (decidious forest, conifer forest, grassland, bare rock...). Are these locations suitable for your group? (Do you need shade to avoid sunburn?)

Are you travelling with a dog? Dark bare rocks (for example in mountains with volcanic rocks) heat during summer sunny days and can be unconfortable to walk on for your bare-foot 4 legged friend...


What you pack will depend on the magnitude of the day. How to pack and what gear? Check our webpage on Equipment


2. Route selection


Get a map, buy a guide book, read experiences on the internet.... Decide on where you want to go and start drawing your own line, to your own destination. 


I prefer maps scaled 1:25.000, but sometimes I just have to go with 1:50.000. I would discourage any coarser scale.

Basics on how to read maps on our blog.

More on the steps to follow when planning a hike on our blog.


How long and how difficult

It is easy to underestimate the hiking time when your baby comes along! 


  • Distance and the group hiking speed 
  • Elevation gain and loss
  • Terrain type
  • Extra time for playing/feeding/changing

Visit our blog post on how to better estimate the hiking time with an infant or a toddler, and download for free the form to make your own calculation for your hikes.

Direct sun or shade

Of course I love direct sun in winter and shade in summer!

Travelling with an infant? You may want to keep them away from direct sunlight as their skin is still delicate.

Use the map to find where to find the sun, depending on the time of your hike. 

Remember: an umbrella may shelter you from direct sun, but not from scattered light! Sunscreen is always advisable in this case!

More in our blog on "how to read maps to plan an excursion"

Photo: Italian Dolomites. Zoe waits in the shade before a long strecth in the sun. This same path was is in the shade earlier in the morning.

Location of the huts

Huts and shelters are signed on the maps. I usually google the name or call the local Alpine club to see if they are open or if a special key is required.

We are collecting a series of links on where to find huts in the different countries in the Alps (see below).

Do you have a recommendation for a site? Write us!

Identification of "escape-routes"

 Escapes routes" are all those paths that will allow me to shorten my hike in case of need (either to bring me back to the car, or to a hut). In this way, every time I am at a cross-road, I can rapidly make an informed decision.  

More in our blog on "how to read maps to plan an excursion"

Tools - Mapping


Our favorite!!! Offline downloadable maps for your smart phone, tells you sights nearby, distances, path... Just have a look at it!


OpenStreet Maps

Not only does it have a layer with all the trails, but it also has a function to generate the altitudinal profile of your hike! I love it!!!

More in our blog on "how to read maps to plan an excursion"


Weather, routes, waypoints, forum, photos, books and much more! Just visit their website to find something close to you or add to the community...


Maps, route proposal, accommodation, tracking, personalised profile.... You can download an app for your smartphone, and with a subscription also access many other options such as offline loadable maps (need a subscription for certain features).

Topographic online hiking map of the Alps. You can plan a route by selecting one or more points on a trail. You can easily get distances and elevations. You can download the maps (fee-based) and synchronize with an app. We didn't test it so far.

Huts Location

Click the links below to be redirected to the suggested websites. You can find guarded and unguarded refuges and bivouac sites.

Your contribution here!

Did you find this page useful? Do you have comments and/or would you like to add to it?

Write us and become a contributor today!