International travel is riddled with social situations that put introverts on edge – from the chatty passenger on the plane, to group walking tours, and dinners served with a hefty side dish of small talk. Far too often introversion is lumped together with adjectives like shut-in, shut-down, shy, or unfriendly. When the truth of the matter is that introverted travellers are just as adventure-prone and engaged as their party-hardy counterparts, they simply have a different way of expressing it and coping with the world around them.
Introverts and tend to need alone time and quiet to recharge their energy levels and to process what they think and feel about any given experience. Some theories suggest that introverts are more attuned to their surroundings than extroverts are, which causes them to take in great quantities of information that they must then process. Extroverts, on the other hand, are not as prone to over-thinking and over-feeling, which is why they are then inclined to seek out attentional social stimuli. There are many theories of where introversion comes from, but it tends to manifest itself in similar personality traits and self-care needs that introverts must be aware of.
So the question becomes, is it really possible for introverted travellers to enjoy a group travel experience? Absolutely. And here are a few tips to ensure that everything runs smoothly:
1. Select your travel destinations wisely
Some destinations are best experienced in a cohort, while others have the inherent ability to enthral solo wanderers without the need for large tour groups, or late night partying. Interacting with history, architecture, art, and enjoying a place’s culinary treats and cultural charms doesn’t have to be a group experience – in fact, it can be even more profound without someone nagging to know what you thought of x, y, or z. Introvert-friendly travel destinations will over lots of opportunities to walk around, sit in a café or restaurant, and pass the time people watching.
2. Always book a private room
Bed and breakfasts, AirBnB rentals, and shared hotel rooms require near constant interaction with other guests, which has the potential to zap an introvert’s energy level. Introverts need a private space that acts as a retreat from social stimuli and should try to ensure that they’ll have a private room throughout their travels. Travelling introverts should also seek out hotel bookings with no single supplements in order to avoid paying additional fees for their peace and privacy.
3. Accessorize your inner introvert
Blatantly telling someone you need time to yourself can come off as slightly uncouth, but there are hundreds of social cues that will help you get that message across in a subtle, friendlier fashion. Equip yourself with headphones, a sleeping mask, a book/ e-reader. The next time you need to take 10 but can’t isolate yourself behind a locked door, whip out one of your introvert accessories and let your neighbours take the hint.
4. Upgrade your downtime
An introvert’s brain – and energy level – need time to recharge away from the action. While alone time in a hotel room is the most effective downtime, it can also cause introverts to feel like they are missing out on truly enjoying their new surroundings. In order to upgrade your travel downtime, seek out a serene corner of a public park, or a nearly vacant café where you can sit quietly at a table and jot down your thoughts in a journal. Downtime is all about slowing down simulation and giving your body and mind time to process what is going on around you, and doesn’t have to leave you feeling confined to the walls of your hotel room.
5. Check in with yourself regularly
Travel can pull your attention to a dozen different things at once, causing you to lose track of your own personal needs. Introverts will need to make a conscious effort to check in with themselves, measure their energy levels, and to make time for the self-care activities that keep them feeling happy and healthy.
6. Don't over-plan
Overly aggressive itineraries and days packed with one activity after the next can feel a like social suicide to an introvert who prefers a gentler pace of life. Not to mention that travelling at high speeds leaves little time to regroup and mentally process what you are experiencing, which is a fundamental activity for happy introverts. Avoid itineraries that lock you into 8-hour activities and instead opt for a few activities a day couples with leisure time to be on your own.
Vacations and international travel are thrilling experiences, but they can also be draining. Navigating a foreign culture, researching activities, planning itineraries, and meeting new people can all be extremely energetically taxing. Take a day off work after returning home from abroad to allow time to re-acclimate to life post-travel. Use this time to restock the kitchen, tackle the laundry, organize your work week, and reflect on the wild adventures you just lived.
8. Travel in small numbers
Not all introverts are lone wolfs, and most actually prefer small group settings as opposed to being entirely alone all the time. Small group travel allows for intermittent social interaction while maintaining the flexibility and calm that make introverts feel comfortable.
9. Rely on Apps, maps, and guidebooks
Rather than having to rely on local travel guides and tour groups, outfit yourself with a good mix of smartphone apps, maps, and travel guidebooks. While small group walking tours are generally quite comfortable for introverted travellers, it can be nice to break away from the group from time to time, in which case you’ll need your own source of travel information to help you navigate through your surroundings.
10. Don't be afraid to use the "I" word
Introverts tend to avoid self-identifying as introverts for fear of being labelled as anti-social. As a result, they stay trapped in uncomfortable social gatherings, and endure endless conversations when they’d much rather recoil to some distant, quiet place. Rather than suffering through, simply slip into the conversation that you’re an introvert and need a little alone time to recharge. Remember, make up between 30-50% of the population which means that potentially 50% of the world understands exactly where you’re coming from.
Beyond packing headphones and opting for low-key activities, the best advice for introverted travellers is to stop fighting against themselves. Introverts will wonder whether they are having an “authentic” travel experience if they don’t chat it up with the locals or bond with their hotel neighbours. Doubting whether a travel experience is authentic enough, intense enough, or noteworthy to someone else is a great way of robbing yourself of what would otherwise be an exceptional experience.
If you’re an introvert, don’t fight it, deny it, or apologize for it. The better able you are to accept and accommodate for your personality type, the better travel decisions you are able to make. So travel to get what you want out of the experience – not what someone else thinks you should get out of it
If you’re an introverted traveller, share your best travel tips in the comments section below!.