Travel can be challenging for an introvert, especially one without defined boundaries or guidelines. Being an introverted traveler myself, I have learned how to adjust my own experiences so that I am able to enjoy travel to the fullest.
The introverted traveler is curious and longs to explore before retreating into their own thoughts. Susan Cain, researcher and author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explains:
Introverts have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment. Introverts tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak, and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk.Author Susan Cain
Introversion is often mistaken for being shy or reclusive. People are usually surprised that I am an introvert. I might appear fine when I drift from conversation to conversation, but I can guarantee you that it takes me quite a bit of effort to remain engaged.
Simply put, introverts are drained by excessive social interactions and require alone time to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, are energized by social interactions and feel drained when alone. As an introvert, adding travel into the mix can get tricky with the potential of meeting new people, traveling in groups, or even just plain ol’ overstimulation.
How to Enjoy Travel as an Introvert
The number one failsafe way to have a great time is to understand your boundaries. Know your limits! As you venture through life and experiences, your limits will change as you change.
The bottom line is that you stay in tune with yourself. Your gut will guide you, so embrace your introversion and move towards your next adventure with these following tips.
1. Wake Up Early
Start your day while everyone else is asleep! This gives you the most guaranteed chance for a little alone time, even on the busiest of days. There are a number of ways you can enjoy yourself when you wake up early:
- Simple morning ritual
- Nice cup of coffee
- Quiet breakfast
- …or whatever else you prefer!
2. Off-Peak Arrivals
Check out your must-see spots during the least busy times. Off-peak hours mean fewer crowds, less noise, and more time to explore.
3. Off-Beat Attractions
Keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to the most popular attractions. Spend a little time researching alternative things to do that pique your interest. Recently, Brian and I visited the National Museum of Funeral History. It was an incredible time…and we had it all to ourselves!
4. Bring Books/Journals
If you find yourself killing time or facing a delay, a book or journal comes in handy. They’re also great for transportation when you don’t want to be bothered!
5. Ask a Local
Striking up conversation with a local might seem intimidating to some, but it could truly make a world of difference in your trip. Talk to someone about your interests to see if they can point you towards some hidden gems. As always, remember to use your street smarts.
6. Schedule Downtime
As an introvert, traveling on a tight schedule or with a group of people can be difficult. It’s important to intentionally schedule the downtime you really need. Don’t deplete yourself; you’ll miss out on the adventure!
- Take extra time for yourself in the morning
- Opt out of a group dinner or two
- Narrow down multiple attractions to a select few
- Head outside for some fresh air
- Veg out in front of the TV for a bit
7. Embrace Self-Sufficiency
Self-sufficiency is a B-E-A-U-tiful thing. Honestly, if ya ask me…there should be SO much more in our society. In any case, being self-sufficient will allow you to wander more independently. Do your own research, due diligence, and be prepared. Ask for help when you really need it. Otherwise, enjoy yourself.
8. Create Your Own Itinerary
Brian and I have planned multiple multi-week trips on our own. This includes 2 international trips (1 of which was with a large group) and countless domestic trips. We enjoy the planning process and prefer traveling without an official tour group.
Creating your own itinerary allows for:
- Personal interest
- Freedom of control
- Ability to include exclusive small-group activities (Food or walking tours)
For example, we booked a handful of short 3-hour food tours throughout Italy. These experiences enriched our visit and allowed us to explore areas that we would not have been able to on our own. The great thing about creating our own itinerary is that we could cancel our tours if we didn’t feel up for them, which is exactly what we did for at least 2 of them!
9. Split Up
If you are traveling with others, remind yourself that you don’t need to be glued at the hip. Let the others know you have some plans of your own. If you aren’t interested in the group activity, know that it’s okay to opt out.
10. Remain Open and Flexible
Everyone, not just introverts, could benefit from remaining open and flexible during travel. Introverts, however, can easily go down the rabbit hole of internal narratives. These narratives can delay complete enjoyment of different experiences.
Keep your boundaries in mind, but remember to be open. Travel is a never-ending novel of choose-your-own-adventures. If you are presented with a can’t-miss opportunity, then take it. Just know that you will have to be flexible and balance it out with some intentional downtime.
Travel Your Way
Travel, much like life, is what you make of it. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Get to know yourself, what you stand for, and how you operate. Question the standard and lean into the ways life works for you. Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between, there are endless opportunities that allow you to trial-and-error through your story.
From crossroads to life experiences and, of course, travel, you learn as you go. Feel free to use some of the tips above if you’d like, or comment below with any other suggestions.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? How has it impacted your travels?