Traveling can be an extremely scary (but very exciting) experience, especially if traveling alone, so it's completely understandable that maps, guidebooks and rigorous itineraries come into play. Being prepared for everything sometimes makes it all feel a lot more safe. But planning everything isn't always fun, 'safe' can lead to missing out on those once in a lifetime opportunities... it can turn you into a boring backpacker!
I don't believe anyone wishes to be labelled boring, so here are my top tips to help you avoid becoming a boring backpacker.
Throw away your guidebook
Ok, so maybe don't throw it away exactly, but you do not have to use it like it is your holy bible, because even guide books don't always get it right (sometimes they're out of date and in some cases the author hasn't even visited the place they're reviewing). Take some risks, explore the unexplored and definitely do not be afraid to get lost because getting lost could lead to an adventure that you never would have predicted and you might just end up making memories you'll cherish forever.
Do not compromise
Being on your own you are pretty much free to explore and do your own thing, but you will most likely make lots of new friends and you will probably want to travel with said new friends, but do not compromise, this is your trip, your dream and your experience and you will more than likely resent others for missing out on opportunities that you wanted to take but didn't. So do not sacrifice anything and make it your own adventure.
Do not be afraid to let your hair down, get involved and enjoy the moment, swim with the dolphins, jump out of a plane, hike the glaciers, ski, surf and swim. Do not sit back, watching everyone else enjoy themselves and let things pass you by. You don't want to go home with regrets of things you could have done and didn't.
The 3 things listed above are rules I absolutely live my travelling life by and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have no regrets. For me, compromising whilst travelling just isn't worth it... There are some places I've been to that I know I'll never return to so if I'd got on that bus with some awesome people I'd met I never would have experienced some of the amazing things I've seen (and I caught up with them anyway a few weeks later!).