Confession: I’m an introvert. And as other introverts know, even though we make up almost a third of the population, sometimes it still feels like it’s an extrovert’s world, especially when it comes to travel and being that “weird girl” who is happy being on her own. One of the biggest misconceptions is that introverts hate being around people which isn’t true at all. Introverts’ brains literally work differently than extroverts. It doesn’t mean that you’re shy, or anti-social. It just means that you quickly become over-stimulated after interacting with too many people and lose energy in social situations. We are just as capable of going to new places, meeting people, and functioning in group travel situations as anyone else. So with that in mind, here some truths about being an introverted traveler and some tips on how you can have a better travel experience when you make the right choices for your personality type.
1. Never travel without headphones, a sleep mask, and a book
Unless you’re genuinely interested in chatting with someone, small talk can be exhausting. If you’re worried about looking rude, the easiest way to avoid a conversation is to put on your headphones or bury your nose in a book ASAP.
2. Skip the B&B or Airbnb and stay in a conventional hotel
While your extroverted friends might rave about the friends they made at that little B&B, getting to know every guest may be more than you need after a long day of travel and exploring. Stay at a big hotel where people will leave you alone and you can unwind in peace at the end of the day.
3. Try a retreat
Retreats are pretty perfect for introverts. Whether for yoga or writing or whatever else inspires you, retreats are usually set in pristine natural settings, offer quiet spaces for thinking and meditating and you’re surrounded by like minded people who will probably stay to themselves.
4. Order room service
Whether you’re traveling solo or with friends, eating out for three meals a day can be exhausting. If you’re not feeling up for the social interaction, order room service one night or stop at a local grocery store and stock up on some snacks you can enjoy in your room when you need a quiet, easy meal.
5. Keep a travel journal
Travel journals are almost like therapy while you travel and whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s very helpful to download your feelings at the end of the day and express all the joy, frustration and fears you’re experiencing on your trip.
6. Schedule downtime
Travel sometimes equals high stress and even though you want to see as much as possible when you’re out, you also need to take time to recharge. After a long day of sight seeing, take the next morning to set up at a local cafe and just enjoy the people watching. If you don’t schedule down time into your schedule, it’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed.
7. Don’t be afraid to travel solo
Honestly, introverts might be even better at traveling solo because we are perfectly happy to entertain ourselves for long periods. When you travel alone, you can do whatever it is you want to do and you don’t have to worry about other people. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re missing out on the “true” travel experience, which is often portrayed as long, heartfelt conversations with locals. I believe that an introvert who spends the day watching the goings-on at a public market gets just as much out the travel experience — it’s just a different experience.
8. Try a walking tour
I used to avoid anything that involved the word “tour” because I didn’t want to be forced to a schedule. But actually, walking tours are a fantastic way to learn a little bit about the city you’re in with zero commitment. Often the tour is free and there usually isn’t much pressure to talk, but you can have small interactions with the group for an hour or two.
9. Be open to conversation but don’t be shy about ending an encounter when you’re ready
Introvert doesn’t mean anti-social and no matter how much you love your alone time, it’s equally important to have some social interaction to keep from getting lonely. Random conversations can lead to invitations to parties or a casual travel companion. The biggest thing here is to never feel ashamed or embarrassed to say “no” if you’re not feeling it. Then again, say “yes” sometimes, too. You never know what might happen.
10. Choose your destinations by your energy level
If the thought of late night partying and packed subways make you feel vaguely nauseous, maybe you should take places like Cancun or Ibiza off your travel list and opt for quieter locations like Iceland or New Zealand. Consider a more off-the-beaten-path destination that lets you introspectively experience a new culture without having to worry about getting dragged from one night club to another. Slow travel is a great way to spend more time in a place instead of cramming every tourist activity into one or two days.
11. Take your hobbies with you
Yes, the point of traveling is to experience new things, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave all your other little joys at home. Work on your photography skills by enjoying the view from behind a camera lens, take in the scenery with your sketchbook, or soak up some sun with a good book. People are less likely to bother you if you’re actually doing something and creating something you love will put you in a good mood.
12. Know what you need and how to get it
Even though introverts often get a negative rap, it’s important to know what you need. Your trips will be so much more satisfying and enjoyable if you’re not stressed and anxious. A good travel companion is a joy but know when you need to take a break and spend some solo time in a museum. Just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you’re not cut out to travel. I love traveling because all you need to do is watch the world go by- there’s nothing else you should be doing. Traveling can be a great experience for introverts since it offers the opportunity for solitude and self reflection as well as the the chance to get out of your comfort zone, experience a new culture and engage with others in meaningful ways. While you might not come back from your trip with 500 new Facebook friends, you’ll leave with quality experiences and relationships that expand your horizons.