When this post goes live, my Salt Lake City adventure will have already come to a close and I will be on a plane headed to Houston. Despite the fact that I haven’t yet left for SLC, I can already tell you that by Wednesday morning I am exhausted and ready for a relaxing, quiet, plane trip. No one in my life would ever argue the fact that I am an introvert, but that never gets in the way of my travel and adventures. In truth, I think my introvertedness enhances the experience for me!
Many people, my own friends and family included, think that being an introvert would put barriers or strain on someone when they travel. I don’t agree with this, as an introvert. I, instead, think we travel a little differently. We tend to be less likely to room with friends in a hotel and less likely to make “weekend-friends” wherever we go. In my experience, introverts make longer lasting friendships, even when traveling, and take in more of their destination than extroverted travelers.
But I can see how, for other introverts, traveling can seem daunting and a bit scary. So today I thought I’d share some of my tips for dealing with travel as an introvert with severe anxiety.
- Plan. I won’t even claim to plan every move before leaving for a trip, but I do do my research. When I touch down in my destination, I will have sleeping arrangements set up, directions to my hotel/hostel, and a general idea of local attractions and restaurants that I may be interested in. I always feel more comfortable having an immediate destination and place to decompress from the act of traveling itself, and knowing the possibilities makes me more excited to pick some activities than overwhelmed by not knowing.
- Go it alone. Yep, as an introvert traveling alone may seem intimidating but, in truth, I think it’s the only way to really develop your love for travel. Going it alone means choosing lodging, restaurants, and activities that you are interested in and comfortable with and never having to worry about a friend’s preferences.ALTERNATIVELY
Go with your closest friends. If you’re not comfortable traveling alone, only travel with your absolute closest friends who understand your introverted feelings (wouldn’t hurt if they were also introverts). This may not be your significant other or family, however. Think about who really truly accepts when you want to leave the party early or avoid more popular attractions for fewer crowds. That being said, even with friends, don’t be afraid to go it alone. One of the most important parts of traveling with friends is being able to go separate ways when necessary for each of you to see your own must-see attractions. It’s fun, I promise!
- Don’t be afraid to retire. If you are traveling with friends or have made friends while traveling, don’t ever feel obliged to stay at the bar/club/party because they aren’t ready to leave. There is nothing wrong with heading back to your room before midnight. That’s why you got a room to yourself or your own key! Use it!
- Read… In Public. If you’re a reader, or maybe you like reading blogs on your tablet, be sure to take those things with you. Going to dinner at a pub? Grab your book or tablet and make an evening of it. From your corner booth you can see the goings on and decide if you’d like to join them or not. I also find books are great conversation pieces. Someone equally as nervous as you may see their favorite book in your hand and decide to say hello. This is how friendships are born.
Books and tablets and newspapers and phones are also great covers for people watching! Sit on that park bench and watch how people of a different culture interact. Bonus points if you pick up a local newspaper and learn about local events during your trip.
- Develop a system. This one is a bit more for long term travel than weekend trips, but I think it still applies. Decide if you’re going to get up each morning and have breakfast in the hotel cafe or if you’ll be rousing more for the lunch crowd. (I’m more the breakfast person on trips). If you usually do yoga, or even if you don’t, do a few minutes of yoga in the morning before dressing and starting your day. Do something that is consistent and you’ll notice a whole new calm about your travels and any little upsets to follow throughout the day.
- NEVER NOT LEAVE! The biggest mistake you can make while traveling is to spend your time locked up behind your hotel door and stare out the window. You can have the best skyline view, but you will have wasted your money. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and just go somewhere! Do something every single day. Shopping, hiking, museums, cafe hopping, and sightseeing are all great options! Try to hit any and everything you’re interested in and have time for!
Are you an introvert? How do you handle traveling alone and with friends?