It may come as a surprise to many of you, but I’m actually a massive introvert.
It takes a lot out of me to spend time with groups of other people – particularly large groups, full of energy and character. And based on the fact that you are reading this, you probably feel the same too.
It’s something I’ve always experienced, but it’s not something I’ve always known or understood. In fact, I had done a lot of travelling before I even realised I was introverted.
Large group tours? Terrifying. Bustling hostel common rooms? Scary. Meeting new people? Extremely difficult.
But, like with many things in life, just because you may find it hard, doesn’t mean it’s impossible or not enjoyable.
Do I still do tours? Absolutely. Do I still stay in hostels? Sure do. Do I still make an effort to meet new people? Of course.
Although all the signs might suggest that it could be… Being an introvert doesn’t have to be a limiting factor when you travel.
In fact, in some cases, it can end up being a huge benefit, especially when you travel by yourself. So with that in mind, here are my tips for you, based on my own experience, for travelling as an introvert.
Understand Who You Are
Like I said, it took me a long time to realise that I’m actually an introvert.
It also took a while for me to work out that being with large groups of people was what was causing me to be exhausted and stressed out in a number of situations, travel included.
So now when I travel, although it doesn’t have to be something that I avoid completely, it’s something that I need to be conscious of and account for when I organise things.
Depending on where I go and what I am going there for, I have a good idea as to whether or not I’m going to be spending time with groups of people (be that a tour, hostel or even a work environment). So I really need to make sure that I’m prepared for that, as well as being sure to make the most of opportunities when I am alone.
If I am going to be doing a group tour, rather than trying to isolate myself from others completely, I’ll aim to find a smaller group of people who have similar interests and personality traits to myself. Smaller group tours are better for me personally, but even amongst larger group tours, you will find smaller groups emerge.
This means that I don’t miss out on the experience, and lets face it large group tours are a good way to explore somewhere completely foreign while still maintaining a safety net, but it’s also something that’s a lot more manageable for me.
I also take a similar approach when staying in hostels – rather than booking a room on my own and isolating myself completely, I’ll choose to stay in rooms that accommodate four people (not that I stay in hostels very often anymore). Again, this allows me to meet new people and share my experiences, without being overwhelmed.
Having said this, isolating yourself for small amounts of time can be a good idea.
Taking five minutes to yourself on a tour, or spending a night or two in your own room on a long trip, can help break up the time spent with others, preventing you from becoming overwhelmed. Whilst also giving you time to recharge your own energy to be able to be better company when you do re-join the group.
As with everything, it’s all about balance and that is something you’ll need to learn. But travel is an ideal way to learn more about yourself as a person.
Take Comfort in Doing Things by Yourself
To some people, travelling is all about sharing the experience with other people – whether it’s friends, family, or even complete strangers.
Other people are more focused on who they’re sharing the experience with than the experience itself. And there’s nothing wrong with that; after all, we all know that a good dinner party or BBQ is never just about the food, it’s about the company too.
But sometimes – especially when travelling – you often find that doing things by yourself is great too.
You might not have someone to take pictures with or talk to about the epic adventure you’re on, but being alone definitely has its benefits.
There is no need to compromise on what you are planning on doing, no waiting around for people to get ready or go to the toilet, no being rushed around or slowed down.
Being able to go where you want, when you want, and how you want is a freedom like no other – it’s not necessarily better without company, but it’s certainly not worse either. The whole experience is just different and becomes so much more your own.
As for myself, I find that when I get to a new city, I like to just walk around and explore in my own time. That’s a great thing that I can do by myself without having to worry about if someone else is tired, thirsty or just bored.
I can stop and explore whatever grabs my interest as I see it and take a break whenever I feel I need one.
Travelling alone boasts complete freedom, as you’re the only one in charge of the itinerary. In short, you’re always the boss of the holiday!
Know Your Limits
All in all, knowing your limits is the key to travelling as an introvert.
It might be great to leap of faith in an attempt to meet new people, but make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself or isolate yourself either.
Know your limits – physically and mentally – and make sure you don’t push them too much.
Feel free to make more of an effort than you otherwise would to socialise and mix with others, but if you need to recharge, give yourself the time alone to let your mind settle, reset and you’ll feel much better afterwards.
I really hope these tips have given you the courage to travel despite being introverted. Travel is such a fantastic experience that’s not only enjoyable but will help you grow as a person.
For more travel tips, make sure you check out the rest of my blog posts as well.