The Introverts Guide to Travel

I’m really excited to write this one! It’s been brewing for a long time, as over the past couple of years I’ve really come to understand what it means to be an introverted traveler.

A little known fact about me is that I am actually really introverted. People don’t believe me when I tell them this: I’m so friendly and open- sometimes even ballsy (particularly when I’ve had a few drinks in me…). It’s true though: I can fake it for awhile, but like all introverts I find personal interactions to be really draining, and I need time by myself to recharge my social battery. It’s not that I’m shy, I just really, really like being alone.

This affects how I travel of course, but it never holds me back. So if I, a true introvert at heart, who likes nothing better than curling up with a book and a beer all by lonesome, can travel the world- so can you. Here’s my advice:

Understand Your Needs

Chilling on my own

It took me a long time to figure out what it actually mean to be an introvert. For ages I would go to parties and wonder why, after a few hours, I felt cranky and tired. I would feel guilty and anti-social and just miserable. I love my friends, so why did I want to go home so badly?

Fortunately my wise father is a licensed Myers-Briggs tester (I’m an INFP), and he taught me a lot about being an introvert. It doesn’t mean that you’re shy, or anti-social. It just means that you react differently to external stimuli than extraverts. Introverts get their energy from being alone, not from other people.

For me, being an introvert means that I can go out to a loud party one night and have a good time, but the next day I probably am not going to want to see anyone. It means that I need time outs at social gatherings to catch my breath and rally. It means that huge crowds and cramped spaces are always going to make me nervous, although I try to find ways of coping. It means I’m happiest in my own head.

Reading up on introversion can help you better understand your needs, which can lead to a lot less frustration and confusion, particularly when you are traveling with a partner, which leads me to my next comment…

Choose your Companion Carefully

Back when I was a single lady I traveled solo or with my buddy Liz. She is an introvert too, which worked perfectly. We had a lot of fun together but we were also great at working in solo time. She’d read a book while I went for a walk, or we’d sit in companionable silence, each watching our own movie on our own laptop. That may sound weird, but it wasn’t. We are just good at being alone together.

Then I started traveling with Mike, who is the definition of an extravert. He loves people, loud parties, chatting with strangers, the works. People energize him, and if he goes too long without socialization he gets antsy. While I’m usually the first to head home from the party, he’d rather be the last to leave.

So that’s… different. It’s frustrating sometimes, for both of us. I’m quiet, I can go for hours without talking and feel perfectly at ease, where he wants to share all of his experiences. I’m happy curled up in our hotel room, resting up for the next day, while it kills him to think that he’s missing out on some fun somewhere. There’s a lot of compromise as we both work to understand and meet the other’s needs.

Am I saying don’t travel with an extravert? No, I love mine and we have tons of fun together. He challenges me to get out there in ways I probably wouldn’t on my own. We meet different people and have interesting adventures. And I… well I probably keep him from getting too out of hand. Plus, he reads more now?

Whoever you travel with make, sure you can negotiate your needs and carve out enough personal space that you don’t lose your mind.

Don’t Be Afraid to Go Alone

It sounds counter-intuitive, but I think introverts are even more well-suited for solo travel than extraverts. We’ve got the inner resources to be alone and entertain ourselves for long periods.

When I travel alone I’ll sometimes go all day without making a connection. I revel in eating alone and wandering the streets of a new city with just my camera as a friend. I eat a lot of ice cream. I think a lot. Sometimes I go to bed early and don’t even feel guilty, just because I can. I do whatever it is I want to do and I don’t worry about other people. If I want a friend, I’ll make one, but I can just as easily slip away when I’m ready to hang out by myself again.

Fake it Til you Make it

Backpacker buddies in Montenegro

When I was 15, and struggling to make friends at my new high school, a wise childhood buddy told me this, and it changed my life. Whenever I’m feeling social anxiety I just pretend I’m not. I just fake it. As a result I’ve become an introvert whose pretty damn good at disguising myself as an extravert.

I can talk to strangers on the train, make new friends in a hostel and even network at events. I’m not so great at things that require confrontation: ie haggling, but I’m working on it. Being an introvert doesn’t have to mean being shy, or even quiet, and I try really hard to push myself.

Then again, sometimes my social anxiety gets the better of me and I get nervous about the silliest things- asking directions for example. Travel is probably good for me in this regard- it forces me out of my comfort zone and makes me do these silly little things for myself.

Are you an introverted or an extraverted traveler? How has it affected your adventures?

Next Time: Advice from other bloggers.

About The Author

79 thoughts on “The Introverts Guide to Travel”

  1. I loved this! The hostel world is so full of extroverts and I stand out sometimes. Nice to know there are others like me πŸ™‚

  2. I am definitely an introvert. I do love speaking to people and all, but I find solo-time very energising and I need to ensure that I’ve time to do this, otherwise it affects my energy during the work week. I used to think something was wrong with me, when I didn’t mix much with people, till I learnt of course the traits of being an introvert. I rather spend time painting and writing than at a club, for example. Having said that, there are times when I have been very bold and have struck up conversations with people. This I have been able to do, with an open mind, a curious mind – a mind curious about their culture, about where they come from. Talking about culture, and people’s background is a great ice-breaker, especially as a third culture kid.

  3. Another INTJ female who enjoys travel. Though for me it’s more enjoyable to travel with one other fellow introvert. “Alone together” time with a friend or family member is something only introverts seem to understand and appreciate; it’s a distinct type of intimacy! A pity extroverts don’t allow themselves to experience it.

  4. I tested as an ISFJ. And I can relate to this too. Especially getting nervous/scared over the silly things like asking for directions. Nearly all of my “traveler” friends are extraverts. It is helpful when I can go and do things together with them that I wouldn’t have the initiative to do on my own. But at the same time, I have experienced that many extroverts don’t understand us introverts. For example, I too am nearly always the first one to leave a party (if I even go!), and many extroverts will feel that you aren’t having fun or that something must be wrong, rather than appreciating that this is just how we are!

  5. I don’t really like the “faking” it part about getting out there and doing what are considered “extroverted things.” Are you really “faking: it? For myself, I’m also true to who I am where ever I go. Most likely, you are a curious person who enjoys adventures and meeting/overcoming new challenges in life. What you have done is just moved outside of your comfort zone and encouraged happiness in your life by overcoming fears/challenges as well as satisfy your insane curiosity and wanderlust (I know it is like this for me at least)

    1. Indeed, but sometimes to “jump start” that passion and get outside of your comfort zone you have to fake your enthusiasm until you get into the groove. It’s a mind trick, but it sure does work.

  6. As an INFP, I found this was so fun to read simply because it was so relatable! Outside of that, you gave some good tips! I find it pretty difficult travelling with extroverted friends or family but it helps when they understand and respect your need to have time alone, your need to skip a few parties and that it’s not a bad thing for us to choose to stay in and read or go for an adventure by ourselves! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Haha. I’m introvert and this is the first time that I’ve seen a travel tip specially written for introverts. I agree that it’s really important to choose you’re travel companion. For me, I prefer to travel with my fellow introverts. This way I won’t be forced and stressed to go to parties with them and they won’t be bored with my company.

    I salute you for being an introvert who is very good at disguising as an extrovert! I hope I’ll be like you someday. πŸ˜‰

  8. I’m an introvert too and I also think it’s great when traveling but it sucks when you’re at home or at parties. I can feel envious sometimes when I see people walking in somewhere and meeting people within minutes or even seconds. With me it depends a lot on if i’m in the party mood or not.

    Great Post!

  9. I’m so glad I read this! I never thought of myself as an introvert but reading this now made me identify with a lot of what you described (especially, the part about avoiding confrontations – I wonder why’s that?).
    I’ve traveled abroad quite a few times this last decade and I noticed I always wanted to travel alone but “chickened out” (mostly because my mom is worried about me traveling alone and she always convinced me to add someone to the trip). And it always felt like a miss for me – looking back I know I would have enjoyed those trips much more if I were alone.

    I found your blog because I’m now planning my first trip to the US and I’m planning to do it alone! I’m very excited knowing I can finally do it “my way”, although some worries about being mugged and such rise up from time to time.
    I’ve managed to figure out that joining short organized tours can help getting over possible loneliness so I’m planning to take part in some. I also know I have no problem chatting people up and finding friends so I’m really not worried πŸ™‚

    Anyway, thanks for this posts and the tips.
    Sarit (from Israel)

  10. Thx for the article!! I’ve ALWAYS known I am an introvert, but it is great to read form another introvert who enjoys doing what I love: travel!
    I am a flight attendant and my job requires me to be open to passengers, friendly. And I love that! I am not shy at all, but as you say in your article it is good to be on our own. I live with my cat and we are happy just being the two of us πŸ™‚
    I envy extrovert sometimes, but I realize how great it is to rely on myself.
    I have been abroad many times, and solo travels are my passion!

    I love your website, I mean your blog! Am going to China next year so am reading your article about the country and find them very helpful.

    Keep doing what you do best!!

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