For as long as I can remember, traveling has been a huge part of my life.
When I was growing up, my family travelled multiple times a year to everywhere from exotic island resorts, to freezing cold ski getaways, to lavish Mediterranean cruises.
Once I was old enough to travel alone, I would beg my parents to let me travel with my friends (and by “let” I mean “pay”), and for some reason they loved me enough to oblige. Throughout high school and university I was fortunate enough to travel all over Europe many times, live in France for a summer, explore other areas of the Caribbean that I had never been to with my family, and fly to Vegas so many times I’ve lost count (partly because I jump at any chance to go, and partly because I don’t remember anything from those trips…oops).
While some would consider me “well-travelled” for my age, I actually wouldn’t consider my trips “travelling.” Instead, I like to consider myself “well-vacationed.”
You see, I have never actually allowed myself to be a true “traveller.” Sure, I “travel” to those locations, explore the city, and do all the must-see sight-seeing, but I don’t actually immerse myself in what I consider to be the culture of “travelling.” I’ve never bunked in with the locals or even stayed in a hostel. I’ve never gone to a local dive bar or to a restaurant that doesn’t have English-speaking staff. And I sure as hell have never backpacked through any country for any length of time.
That’s how I’ve always travelled, and that’s how I thought I would always travel: comfortable, cushy, and with 3 suitcases to hold all my shoes.
That is, until my parents came to me 6 months ago saying we were taking a family trip to Peru.
To trek Machu Picchu.
And camp on a mountain for 4 days.
While I could have said no, my dad is a huge adventure-junkie and goes on these trips often. He’s turning 60 this year, and though he’s in amazing shape and doesn’t act 60 at all, you never know when his last “adventure” trip will be.
Not to mention, he somehow swindled my younger brother into trekking Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa with him a few years ago, and now I look like the bad child who jumps at any chance for him to fund my own personal vacations, but won’t go with him on one of his
mid-life crisis bucket-list vacations.
Anyways, I am now leaving for Peru in just over a week and am literally preparing for my death. I probably should have drafted a will because I’m pretty sure I’m not making it back and there will be no one to take care of my dog. And even though Machu Picchu is one of the easier mountains to climb, I am genuinely terrified of this trip, so I’ve been taking the time to do lots of prep-work beforehand.
So for anyone who is considering risking their life and spending thousands of dollars to be miserable on “vacation,” here’s a quick look at how to prepare for an outdoorsy vacation if you are the farthest thing from an outdoorsy person.
Getting Ready to Trek Machu Picchu as a Non-Outdoorsy Person
1. Train or Die
As I mentioned above, Machu Picchu is one of the easier mountains to climb. “Easy” or not, I’m still climbing a freakin’ mountain. So even though I work out often, I’ve been training extra hard to build my stamina. This includes going on long, challenging hikes, adding extra kilometres to my jogs, working out more frequently than usual, and
drinking more drinking less.
Because I’m not about to be that person who gets air-lifted off the mountain because I can’t catch my breath at basecamp.
2. Use the Buddy System
Climbing a mountain with my family is great, but I know that they won’t tolerate any of my complaints along the way. That’s why I forced my boyfriend to come along- to provide me with the endless support that I anticipate I will need. It’s not that my family wouldn’t be supportive of me if I was having a rough time, but parents will be focusing on the morale of the group as a unit, whereas my boyfriend will be focusing on just me.
And the thousands of Instagrams I’m going to make him take.
3. Do Your Research
Even after 5 years of university, I have never done more research in my life than I have for this trip. And by “research” I mean reading travel posts by fellow bloggers. This has been really comforting, as many of the more formal forums written about trekking Machu Picchu are more cautionary
and scared the shit out of me. Our generation is so lucky that we have the ability to read up on so many people’s different experiences all across the world to help us prepare.
And get Instagram inspo.
4. Shots, Shots, Shots!
Not those kind of shots.
I’ve gone to the travel clinic twice so far to get my shots up to date and get any medication I might need (altitude sickness meds etc.). I think it’s important to go to an actual travel clinic before doing a trek like this, as this is their specialization and they have an abundance of information that your family doctor wouldn’t have.
Because it’s a lot more comforting to hear from a professional that you’re going to be fine than from your mom who’s even less outdoorsy than you.
5. …More Shots, Shots, Shots!
And finally, when all else fails and I still find myself freaking the f*ck out over this nightmare “vacation,” a little alcohol to calm the nerves goes a long way.