This article originally appeared in Travel+Leisure.
Trudging along the Inca Trail en route to Machu Picchu, I sighed. My feet were throbbing, my jeans were soaking wet from the rain, and my stomach was both gurgling and cramping. After spending weeks going to what seemed like every sporting goods store in the tristate area, I was so sure I had all the gear needed to make the journey smooth.
But I later learned I had committed a long checklist of amateur mistakes, including wearing new hiking boots, choosing jeans over moisture-wicking pants, and not packing Imodium and Midol.
While I’m still a novice at best, part of experiencing destinations around the globe often involves venturing into the wild. Since my Peruvian faux pas, I’ve been learning on the trails, including hiking in Finland’s Nuuksio National Park to sleep in a hanging tent with Flash Pack, climbing up the hills of Turkey’s Lycian Way and Australia’s Kings Canyon with Intrepid Travel, and even going on a 14-mile, nine-hour hike to Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia on my own.