I have been teased and tortured with a sense of everlasting wanderlust for as long as I can remember. Maybe it was the way my parents raised me, or maybe I was born with the need to roam. Either way, it doesn't matter. Nothing gives me a rush of liberation like travel does, especially when I do it solo.

My whole life people have told me to be careful. Don't walk the streets at night alone. Don't talk to strangers. Look up directions ahead of time so you don't get lost. Be cautious with new places and new experiences. While I certainly agree it is important for anyone, male or female, to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings, I disagree with all of the things I've been warned against.

I have taken some of my absolute favorite photographs while wandering the streets alone at night. I have connected to strangers in less than five minutes and had some of the most beautiful and interesting conversations with them and have left the experience feeling nothing but inspired and curious. As for not getting lost, that is the worst advice I have ever taken.

GET LOST. Wander. Explore.

Some of the most wonderful days of my life have been spent on the open road, turning down roads at random just to see what I find -- or perhaps in the city, getting on a bus or a train and getting off at a random stop just to see what's out there. I can't imagine my life without these experiences and I have never once regretted getting lost and wandering.

I am spending the first few days of 2015 traveling alone in New York City and already I have tried so many new things, seen so many new places, talked to so many kind and interesting people, and I couldn't be happier or more excited for the remainder of my days here. It's freezing cold and half the time it rains, half the time it snows. I'm used to the warm and mild Southern California weather but I just keep walking on and walking faster to keep my blood warm and to see more and more of the city.