When I first stepped onto Khao San Road, the main backpacker drag in Bangkok, I was a little overwhelmed. I had arrived after weeks spent cycling alone in the Thai countryside, winding through rolling hills, beside acres of fields filled with rice and corn, passing by bustling towns and cities without a single tourist.
Solo travel can be invigorating, enlightening -- and terribly lonely. Introducing yourself to a total stranger can feel creepy, anxiety-provoking and awkward -- especially when you don't have a friend or two backing you up. If you're like me, you crave context before striking up a conversation as a solo traveler.
Traveling alone for an extended period means you spend a lot of time inside your own head. Alone, bombarded with new stimuli at every turn, your mind can truly appreciate the juxtaposition of people, places and things. Most importantly, you're going to think deeply about whether you're living your life meaningfully.