If you know me, you might be thinking ‘hey she’s not introverted’, but if you know me well then you’ll understand that I secretly hate everyone (just kidding!). But seriously, my close friends and family have come to realize that I need alone time or I become a total grump. I can’t even count how many times I have said ‘just let me be’.
You probably all know that being an introvert is not just being shy (like we thought back in the day). It means that we need to be alone to recharge our internal battery. Plenty of introverts, including myself, can be outgoing (when we want to be), but they can become worn down after long periods of group interaction. So you can see how this might be a tiny problem when traveling, especially when staying in hostels or traveling in a group. Here is how I cope as a traveling introvert:
1. Splurge on a Private Room
Go hide in your room (joking again). This is only appropriate sometimes. In all seriousness, I like to splurge on private rooms when I am staying in a hostel or in the case of Airbnbs I book the entire house. If I am on a tight budget and traveling to multiple cities, then I try to book a private room in the middle of the trip to give myself time to recharge. When traveling a very long distance, I like to reserve a private room for my first couple of days in case of jet lag.
Why does a private room matter, you ask? You might be thinking, it shouldn’t matter where I’m sleeping! I’ll be out exploring every waking minute of the day. I thought that once, but as I have gotten older I’ve realized how much I enjoy having my own space. I like being able to wake up at the time I want (which is most likely super early when traveling), go to sleep at the time I want (which is also most likely very early) and basically do whatever I want.
“Sometimes you just have to put off that ‘don’t bother me’ vibe. Its not rude, its self preservation.”
2. Find a Secret Spot
If you find yourself being bombarded (they are probably just being friendly, but to an introvert it feels like bombardment) by other travelers at your hostel, then you need to find a hidden spot where you can relax. By this, I mean a place away from your accommodation where you can sit and observe others (introverts love observing or is that just me?), but most likely won’t be disturbed.
I enjoy visiting parks and cafes frequented by locals. You can choose to visit the same spot each day or explore various places around the city. In Paris I enjoyed sitting along the Canal Saint-Martin, while in London I relaxed in Hyde Park.
3. Always have a Book or Headphones
Sometimes you just have to put off that ‘don’t bother me’ vibe. Its not rude, its self preservation. I have sat next to that chatty person on the plane one too many times to feel bad about pulling out headphones or a book when someone clearly wants to talk. By reading or listening to music, it lets others know that you are not looking for conversation. Someone may approach you to ask what you are reading/listening to, but it is always pretty easy to end the conversation quickly.
4. Just Say No.
There are some people out there that cannot stand being alone. So they try really really hard to convince you to go out with them. If they are super convincing FoMO might set in. DON’T BACK DOWN. If you don’t want to do something, just say no and don’t feel bad about it.
5. Always have an Escape Plan
What do introverts hate more than anything? Being trapped in a conversation or activity when they just want to have some peace and quiet. Having an excuse to dip out of a conversation/activity can be really useful. One thing to be mindful of when crafting your escape is that another person can always ask to tag along. For example, saying something like ‘I think I’ll go to the cafe down the street’ can invite someone to say ‘I’ll go with you!’ Seriously, some people just don’t get social cues. A better way to phrase it would be ‘I’m going to the cafe to get some work done. It’s hard to focus here.’ In this case, if the person invites themselves it is easier to turn them down as you can refer to your previous statement regarding the need to focus.
“If you don’t want to do something, just say no and don’t feel bad about it.”
Being straight up with people also works well, but sometimes I don’t want to turn others off by saying ‘please leave me alone’ or ‘that sounds terrible’ because after I’ve had some time alone I might want to be friends again.
6. Take a Hike
What I really mean is take a walk. This is especially helpful when you are traveling with a companion(s) and you need some time away. More than likely you are sharing a room, sightseeing, eating and traveling all with the same person(s). This could send any introvert over the edge. Most people who are traveling in pairs or groups do not plan separate excursions (even though I highly encourage it) so they are together 24/7. One way to take a short break, without totally letting your companion know that you are sick of them is to take a walk during down time.
7. Plan Separate Activities Based on Interest
If you are traveling in a group or pair, it’s nice to have time apart. There is no way you and your companion have all of the same interests so this is an obvious way to bring up the conversation about splitting up for a day. My boyfriend and I backpacked through Europe for five weeks together. This means being with each other pretty much all. day. everyday. for. five. weeks. He is really into boxing so while he went and visited a few gyms in different cities I went to markets, museums and took a Harry Potter Walking Tour. All of which were activities that he is not interested in. One thing I wished we had done separately: The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio because it was not his scene at all.
To all the traveling introverts out there: you get me. Let’s be friends, but only sometimes.