Activity Levels




                      Activity Level 4: Active 


                      Activity Level 5: Challenging 


                      Activity Level 1: Easy 


                      Activity Level 2: Moderate 


                      Activity Level 3: Moderate / Active

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Find the Perfect Journey Using Activity Level Ratings

Our Activity Level Ratings provide an understanding of the physical expectations for each tour or cruise, making it easier for you to find the journey that is right for you. Activity Level Ratings are featured in our Trip Finder (as a filter), but more importantly, a detailed description of the activity requirements can be found on the individual trip’s web page (on the “Tour Details” tab). These descriptions summarize the ease or rigors of activities, as well as information regarding length of walks, hikes, or treks; altitude; internal flights; train travel; and more.

In general, our itineraries can be full and active. Therefore, we recommend that your level of fitness, stamina, and overall ability match the activity requirements for the tour/cruise you select. The Activity Level descriptions outlined below provide a general overview of program pacing and expectations for each rating. Detailed information regarding specific activity expectations, provided online for each tour and cruise, should be reviewed carefully to ensure you have chosen a program appropriate to your capabilities.


Level 1: Easy


Smithsonian Activity Level 1 Easy Expectations: Tours stay in just one city. Standing and walking for extended periods of time during museum visits or city tours. Shorter travel days. Walking typically on flat terrain; stairways sometimes without handrails; elevators sometimes available.  (Typical travel opportunities: leisurely journeys such as Smithsonian at Chautauqua) 

Appropriate for: Travelers in good health with overall good mobility, and who are comfortable participating in at least three hours of activity per day.

Level 2: Moderate


Smithsonian Activity Level 2 Moderate Expectations: Long touring days with many full-day motor coach excursions. Standing and walking for long periods of time during city tours, museum visits, and/or outdoor activities. Walking over sometimes difficult terrain (e.g. cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, absence of elevators, climbing aboard trains with high steps); some longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Possible exposure to higher altitudes. River cruises may offer a choice of excursions with varying activity expectations.  (Typical travel opportunities: Most Cultural Stays, River Cruises, some Land Journeys, U.S. Train Tours) 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).


Level 3: Moderate / Active


Smithsonian Activity Level 3 Moderate / Active Expectations: Most trips will feature long touring days, many full-day excursions, and a full and active itinerary with a faster pace and longer distances. Some tours may have activities with higher intensity and more active options. Excursions require standing and walking for extended periods of time over more difficult terrain (e.g. cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, limited or no access to elevators, muddy/slippery walking/hiking trails), and walking to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Specific itineraries may feature hiking, use of local transportation, extended overnight train travel, extensive use of Zodiac crafts or other smaller ship conveyances, or multiple internal plane rides. Some itineraries may require early morning departures and later evening returns. Travelers may be in remote and/or rugged regions, and may be touring at higher altitudes with steep ascents/descents. Leisure time may be limited (sometimes only in the later evenings). Certain tours feature more active excursions (such as moderate hiking, swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, bicycling, rafting, or kayaking), though another choice may be offered for an alternate skill level. Active Journeys tours may feature two to seven-mile walks or hikes. (or three to five hours of walking or hiking each day).  (Typical travel opportunities: Longer Land Journeys, Wildlife Safaris, Ocean Cruises, International Train Journeys, U.S. National Parks Tours, Active Journeys). 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion.


Level 4: Active


Smithsonian Activity Level 4 Active Expectations: Programs are at a very active pace, with long travel days and a demanding daily schedule of physical activities, i.e. hiking, trekking, kayaking, rafting, or bicycling. Walking/Hiking tours can be on difficult terrain (up to 14 miles on uneven terrain, city hills, or narrow trails along steep hillsides with no railings). Rafting may be Class III/IV rapids. Travelers may be in remote and/or rugged regions with challenging terrain, possibly at high altitudes with steep ascents/descents. Leisure time may be limited (sometimes only in the later evenings). Accommodations may vary from camping tents to deluxe lodges. Travelers carry a daypack for their daily necessities while support vehicles transport all other gear for most but not all tours.  (Typical travel opportunities: Active Journeys) 

Appropriate for: Travelers who have a high fitness level, expect a vigorous pace, enjoy participating in five to seven hours of physical activity per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.


Level 5: Challenging


Smithsonian Activity Level 5 Challenging Expectations: Programs are at a challenging pace, with long travel days and a demanding/challenging daily schedule of physical activities, i.e. hiking, trekking, kayaking, rafting, or bicycling. Walking/Hiking tours can be on difficult terrain (up to 15 miles, possibly on narrow or unmarked trails with areas of exposure). Rafting may be Class IV/V rapids. Travelers will be in remote and/or rugged regions with challenging terrain, possibly at high altitudes with steep ascents/descents. Leisure time will be limited (sometimes only in the later evenings). Accommodations can vary from camping tents to deluxe lodges. Programs may not offer vehicle support. (Typical travel opportunities: Truly challenging Active Journeys such as Climbing Kilimanjaro) 

Appropriate for: Travelers who have a very high fitness level, expect a vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to ten hours of physical activity per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically. A doctor’s certificate may be required for participation in some of these journeys.


Please Note:

Each tour/cruise features detailed information regarding its activity level—found on the individual tour web page on the Tour Details tab.

Travel to and from the tour is not factored into our activity level ratings. You should take into account your stamina when traveling long distances and/or with multiple flight changes. Also, you must be able to handle personal hand luggage independently throughout the itinerary.

In addition to physical fitness, you should have a strong level of preparedness to handle adverse weather and/or road conditions, rough seas, and other issues that can be challenging when traveling.