Although I’m not hugely into labels, anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I have an introverted personality. Until recently, I always thought of it as a negative quality:
…I’m so shy, I don’t like big crowds, I’m sensitive, small talk doesn’t come naturally to me, and I prefer to stay home than go out…
A personality test has confirmed that I am an introvert. No surprises there. But to be specific, I am an INFJ-T; a rare personality type, due to the combination of being quiet and mystical, yet inspiring and idealistic.
Since taking the test I have connected with other introverts in the online world, many of whom are fellow INFJ-ers; which has been so wonderful! I have experienced many an ‘a-ha’ moment hearing about their stories and reactions, and have learned to embrace the quirks that make me introverted.
I am now proud of being an introvert, and think about myself in a whole new light…
…I’m creative, insightful, determined; I use my energy to lift others up when they are down; I’m a good listener and problem-solver; and once I have made a decision on something, I stick with it until the end…
A common misconception is that introverted people are shy, awkward, and prefer to be alone than with other people. The truth is, that it’s quite the opposite! Us introverts use up a lot of our energy by spending time with extroverted personalities, large crowds, or just being ‘on’ (read: talking to others, taking part in activities, or working hard). We therefore need to have the space to unwind, recharge, and build our energy source back up so that we can go out there and do it all again!
Travelling is one of the joys in life that can lift us up, replenish our energy, and make us feel alive!
So here are my suggestions for making travelling as an introvert more comfortable and enjoyable.
Of course, these tips aren’t just useful for introverts — anyone who likes to have a space of their own or avoid large crowds can benefit from this information.
How to travel as an introvert
Seek out quaint towns over bustling cities
You can’t go to America without wanting to cross New York, LA or Vegas off your list; likewise there’s Paris in France, London in the UK, and Tokyo in Japan, among others.
And as amazing as these big and bustling cities are, they do leave you feeling rather overwhelmed with the sheer size of them, the amount of people all around, and the tall buildings and bright lights everywhere you look.
So it’s important to balance out big city visits with small town vibes. Choose accommodation away from the city centre, or in the suburbs; spend some time in neighbouring towns and villages; and mix up high-tourist attractions with gentle walks around less populated areas, chilling out in bookstores and coffee shops, or finding nature to ground yourself in.
Fit in some alone time
Reading, listening to music, watching youtube videos, or meditating are great ways to unwind, relax, and replenish your energy. Wear headphones so you won’t be distracted by other people — including your travel partner — and make it known beforehand that you need some time to yourself.
You’ll generally know when it’s time to switch off and unwind; so don’t be afraid to speak up when you’re starting to feel drained, irritated, or overwhelmed. Sometimes all it takes is to sit down for a few minutes and have a drink or something to nibble on; then you can get back out and enjoy yourself!
Make the most of long journeys
It can be painful knowing that you’re about to spend a long time travelling to your next destination.
But I choose to look at these long-haul journeys as the perfect time to do nothing!
When we’re travelling, we often feel like we need to be on the go all the time, fitting in as much as we can; but during these breaks from the madness you really can sit back, look out the window, and do nothing else but enjoy it. Recharge those batteries, and watch the world go by without feeling the guilt.
You really have no other option, so make the most of the down-time.
Book private accommodation
Although it can add to your travel expenses, booking a hotel or motel over a hostel is ideal for introverted travellers.
It ensures you get a space to yourself, you don’t have to share facilities, and if you don’t want to see or talk to anyone else, you don’t have to.
If all you feel like doing at the end of a long day is ordering in room service and curling up in bed, you totally can.
However, if you’d prefer to find out where the best places are to eat, shop, and visit that aren’t super touristy; then staying with a local at a Bed and Breakfast is another option worth considering. Hosts generally like to meet you on arrival and at breakfast-time, but there’s usually no obligation to spend time with them if you’d prefer not to. And because they are only able to accommodate a small number of people, you won’t have to worry about crowds, or being ‘just another number’.
Take small-group tours
Tours can often sound like a nightmare for introverts — being forced to spend time with a bunch of people you don’t know, sharing a bus with loud strangers, or not having the flexibility to take your time…
But small group tours offer a great opportunity to visit locations that are otherwise difficult to get to, and find out about the history of an area from a local or guide, without the overwhelm of a large crowd.
It’s also an easier way to meet people, as there are less personalities to navigate and you’ve already got a common interest — your destination!
What other tips or tricks do you use to ensure your travels are enjoyable and stress-free?
Let me know in the comments below; I love learning new introverted travel-hacks.