Hiking is an activity you can do almost anywhere, and it’s a perfect way to experience a new place.

I had never been on a true hike before this year. I knew people in Florida that trained all year to go on strenuous hikes, but I didn’t see the appeal of it.

That is until I got to Phoenix and went on my first true hike up Camelback Mountain. It was incredibly difficult, but I had a fantastic experience and couldn’t wait to find a hike to do in the next city. In San Diego, I hiked up Cowles Mountain with a bestie. Then in Salt Lake City, I took my sweet puppy on a hike at Millcreek Canyon.

I’ve loved this activity I just discovered and for anyone that hasn’t done it before, I highly recommend it! Below are a few reasons why I love hiking and think everyone should do it while traveling.

1. It’s hard.

Sometimes, an activity that challenges you is perfect while you’re traveling. Sure, it’s nice to see the sites and take photos, but what about when you want to give yourself a new project to tackle? Hiking is perfect: in most places with mountains, you can choose what type of hike you want to undertake and how much you want to work.

2. It’s quiet.

I’m a city girl, so I’ve mostly geared by travels towards big cities so far. I do enjoy eating at fancy restaurants and experiencing the nightlife, but there’s just something so magical about being on a mountain, alone with nature. You can’t hear any sound except the leaves beneath your own feet and the rustle of the trees.

3. It’s minimalist.

It’s possible to purchase expensive, cutting-edge gear for hiking (and for some challenging hikes, you may need to). That said, for most baby hikes, you’ll only need a good pair of sneakers and a water bottle. As a full-time traveler with very few possessions, I appreciate the minimalist nature of this activity.

4. It’s physical.

Hello, fitness. I’m a runner and a CrossFitter, most of the time, so the idea of walking through a forest or up a mountain didn’t appeal to me. I was wrong to be such a snob about it, though, as difficult hikes work muscles that don’t get a lot of use from sitting at a desk all day! The physicalness of the activity also releases endorphins and makes you happy!

5. It’s far away.

Away from the people, away from the stress, and away from real life. It’s physically far away, of course, but it also puts you in a new place mentally.

6. It’s social (if you want it to be).

Although I enjoyed my hike alone with my puppy, the hikes I went on in Arizona and California were even better because I got to spend quality time getting to know people. There’s nothing to do while walking up a mountain other than talk about life and build on your relationship.

7. It’s beautiful.

The views. I was one of those assholes that didn’t understand what was so critical about having a nice view, but getting to the peak of a mountain after a really tough hike up quickly knocked me down from my haughty high horse. Sure, you can go to a fancy hotel and get a view overlooking a beautiful city or town, but there’s nothing like knowing you worked hard to get to seeing that beautiful view

8. It’s freeing.

Away from civilization, removed from anything other than nature – how could that not be the best, most freeing feeling in the world?