I asked an AI to plan the perfect hiking vacation

Robot floating over lake and mountains
(Image credit: Getty)

If you're anything like me, you might be planning your hiking and camping trips for 2023 right now. It's fun, but takes time and effort – so what if an AI could do the legwork for you, plotting a route and making sure you have a good time along the way? Would you trust it – and should you? I decided to find out.

There are lots of AI writing tools currently available, but after a little experimenting, I eventually decided to go with Jasper (opens in new tab) – an AI tool designed for writing blog posts and articles. I informed it that I wanted a blog post, written for hikers in a casual but informative tone.

The guide it put together was reads like something written by a human being, but wasn't actually what I'd intended. I was hoping that it would describe the perfect hike – perhaps give a destination and some of the things you might see along the way – but instead it gave general advice for planning a successful trip. Perhaps my goal was too lofty.

Lots of its suggestions make a lot of sense, like considering your abilities when choosing a destination, and researching the trails ahead of time. However, something there were some noticeable omissions – particularly when it comes to safety. There's a quick, vague mention of checking for local safety warnings, but nowhere in the article does it say anything about checking the weather forecast and taking appropriate clothing. Nor is there anything about the essential gear you should take for any hike (see our guide to hiking essentials (opens in new tab) for the full list).

Nor does it mention hiking with a partner or friend, and making sure the route suits them and their abilities as well. There's nothing about knowing how to navigate using a map and compass, not taking shortcuts off-trail, or letting someone know where you're going and when to expect you back.

It suggests planning for wildlife encounters, but doesn't advise you to watch out for dangers, keep a safe distance, and perhaps invest in a pair of the best binoculars so you can watch the animals from a distance that keeps you both safe, All in all, it's vague – dangerously so.

My conclusion? Be super careful which articles you trust, and check out the credentials of authors wherever possible when it comes to matters like safety. The web might not be awash with AI-generated advice yet, but it's probably only a matter of time.

Want to actually plan the hiking vacation of a lifetime? Check out our guide how to plan a hike (opens in new tab), which was written by climber, mountaineer, author and verified human being Kieran Cunningham

Jasper's AI-written guide is below. Take it with a hefty pinch of salt...

The perfect hiking vacation

Do you love spending time in nature and getting lost in the wilderness? If so, a hiking vacation might be just what you need! Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there are plenty of ways to plan the perfect hiking vacation. Here are some tips to get you started. 

Know your skill level 

The first step to planning a great hiking vacation is to know your skill level. Are you a beginner hiker who likes taking short walks on flat terrain? Or are you an experienced hiker who enjoys challenging yourself with more advanced hikes? It’s important to know your abilities before planning any hike so that you can make sure that it is within your skill level. 

Choose your destination 

Once you know your skill level, it’s time to pick out your destination. Where do you want to go on your hiking vacation? Do you want to stay local and explore the trails near home or do you want to travel somewhere new? Think about what kind of scenery and climate appeals to you and choose a location that fits all of your criteria. 

Research the trails 

Now that you have chosen a destination, it’s time for research! You should look into the available trails at the area where you plan on visiting and read reviews from other hikers who have done them before. This will give you an idea of which ones are best suited for your skill level, as well as which ones offer beautiful views or interesting wildlife encounters. You should also look up any safety information about the area – it’s always better to be safe than sorry!  

Conclusion

Planning the perfect hiking vacation doesn't have to be difficult! Just remember to start by knowing your skill level and choosing a destination that fits all of your criteria. Then, conduct some research into the trails at that destination before setting off on your adventure. With enough preparation, any outdoor enthusiast can have an amazing experience in nature that they'll never forget!

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).