One of the most amazing things about traveling to as many countries as I have at such a young age is that I am able to give advice and relate to others who are going or have gone! Just the other day I had two young men come into my work and after some discussion, I found out they were going to backpack Europe for three weeks. They told me every city they were going to and I had been to every single one of them except two. Not only were they impressed, but sometimes I’m impressed. I catch myself off guard when I realize that not everyone is able to have the incredible adventures that I went on. I’m a very lucky girl.

Naturally, we got to talking about their plans for each city they were visiting. One of the young men asked me, “Tell me how you planned out all your trips! I want to have the best experience possible.” I kind of chuckled to myself because, to be honest, it either didn’t happen or didn’t happen as planned.

A lot of people function better with a plan in front of them. I don’t find it to be something strange, I find it to be rather normal. However, when it comes to traveling I never found myself to enjoy my planned trips as much as my open itinerary trips. When you think about it, trips are “planned” based off of the opinions of other friends and family members or what you see recommended online. If you’re going somewhere you’ve never been and have ideas of where you want to go it means that in some way, shape or form you have been advised from someone or somewhere. That is where you made your first mistake.

You can’t discover a city based off the recommendations of others. You can’t find out what truly interests you when you’re going to places that interested others. I have the best memories from the trips where I knew what I wanted to do when it crossed my path. I didn’t plan on visiting the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris, France, but on an expedition, I found myself in front of it. I never intended to try the best cheese in my life at a little Christmas market, but I felt bored and went on a walk through the streets. Most of all, I never would have met the love of my life if I wasn’t convinced to go to a little get together on Nov. 26, 2016.

Life has so much to offer when we step away from the social norms of our cultures and take in the little moments where we truly have freedom of choice to embrace our individuality. I don’t want to discourage anyone from looking up the city they’re planning on visiting and finding tourist attractions of interest to them. If that’s what you want to do and what you’re comfortable with then that is fantastic. I would simply advise you to not fill up your itinerary so tight that there is no room for random adventures.