So many of my friends are travelers. Some have studied abroad in the past, some are abroad now, or some have just traveled a lot on their own. I try to live vicariously through them, as if hearing about all their adventures will transfer some of their coolness to me. As excited as I get to hear their stories, I feel pangs of jealousy when I think about how little of the world I’ve experienced. My way of coping is by trying to take in as many tips and recommendations as I can so that when I finally can travel the world, I will make the most of every moment.
My friend Anne is one of those people who has been everywhere. She was born in England, lived in California for a while, moved to Singapore, studied abroad in Madrid, should I keep going?
One time we were talking about Madrid and I asked her what spots I absolutely have to see. To my surprise she just kind of laughed at me.
“Most people have these set ideas of what to do in a country. The way they talk it’s like you can consume the essence of a place by following some very specific formula of where to go and what to do. I guess that works for some people, but I like to go with the flow. You can never predict what will make that trip special, it’ll just happen.
“When I was in Prague with some friends, one of our goals was to meet real people from Prague, which was very hard because Prague is full of tourists. We saw all the sights and had a good time, but I didn’t get a feel for what Prague is really like.
“On the train back we made friends with this girl from Prague and she was hilarious and so much fun. If we hadn’t randomly ended up on the train with her, we wouldn’t have had a real conversation with someone from Prague. It was a small part of that trip but it still sticks out in my mind. I guess my point is you can only do so much planning for a trip because in all likelihood, your best times will be the parts of your trip that are unplanned.”