Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

Anyone who enjoys solo travel knows how liberating it can be—but what happens when you enjoy it so much that you just don’t want to travel with anyone else? That’s what happened to Kellie Paxian.

Solo travel isn’t always the easiest or most comforting way to go.

Many of the challenges associated with traveling are solved by having a trusted companion along for the ride. Feeling lonely or homesick is more tolerable when you have a familiar face to turn to. Getting lost in a foreign place is less intimidating when you’re with back-up. As for dining out alone … that’s often one of the biggest sticklers for people wondering whether or not to give solo travel a go.

But the reason we travel, or at least the reason I travel, is to meet new people and cultures. I travel to get away from the everyday, discover new places, and get to know myself better.

And solo travel delivers heightened versions of all of this.