Introverts may finally have an advantage over the extroverts of this world through solo traveling. Traveling solo lends perfectly to an introvert’s natural tendencies to spend time alone, observe the world around them, reflect, and even strike up meaningful conversations. Introverts, picture this: you alone on a long train ride through a new country, gazing out of the window at the changing landscape around you, a book on your lap that you thumb through every now and then or perhaps even just lost in your own thoughts. There is a lot of that when you’re traveling alone and dear introverted friends, we are made for it.
Here are 6 reasons why I believe that introverts and solo travel make the perfect match.
Introverts are Great at Being Alone
Introverts are already great at being alone. We get our energy from spending time in solitude. That does not make us hermits though! Let us stroll through city streets sipping our matcha lattes on a summer day in Girona, Spain. Give us long, multi day hikes with nothing but the consistent thud of our boots against the earth and perhaps the song we might sing. Eating alone in a restaurant – not a problem for us, we don’t mind the glances.
Activities like this recharge us and are essential for our well being. In our normal lives the opportunities to be truly alone are slim as we are obligated to our families, friends, and careers. Traveling solo lets our introvertedness shine through.
Introverts are Naturally Reflective & Observant
Introverts love to observe what is going on around us and we are quite good at it. We like to watch the bustle at the local farmers market as we make our way through the foreign streets of Paris to the Eiffel Tower. When we overhear people in the cafe next to us speaking animatedly in a foreign language, we get creative and invent stories about them.
These types of activities are not boring for us and are often all of the stimulation we need. Just because we don’t appear to actively participate in the events happening around us, this does not mean that we don’t see or appreciate them.
In fact, we may see them in such fine details that it overwhelms us. We are watching the way our new surroundings operate so that we can operate well within them. At the end of a full day observing and exploring in our own way, nothing serves us better than returning to our room with a journal to help us get out of our heads.
Introverts are Happy to Have Deep Conversations with People
This natural tendency to observe and listen rather than speak does not make us complete wall flowers or even socially awkward. Sure, we will tire quickly of the typical hostel get to know you conversation which goes something like this:
- “Where are you from?”
- “How long are you traveling”
- “Where are you going”
- “What do you do at home”
While this will be exhausting at times, introverts will perfect their answers to ease the energy drain and open the potential for deeper conversations. I’ve honestly told people over a hostel dinner, whom I’ve known for mere hours, some of my deepest wishes and desires for my life that I’ve only told my best friend. Long term boyfriends never even got that out of me.
I think that because even as an introvert I recognize that solo travelers are kindred spirits. They will get you without you having to explain yourself. And they will potentially be introverted as well which means they appreciate a deeper connection especially when surrounded by many surface level conversations.
Introverts Can Finally Stop Trying to be an Extrovert
Introverts spend the majority of their lives trying to conform to the extroverted way of life that is so prevalent in our society today. We amp ourselves up for constant social interaction in the workplace for 8 hours a day. We try our best to hold up the witty end of a conversation on a first date when small talk is not our strong suit. But traveling alone is a completely different story.
There is an anonymity that comes with solo traveling. No one cares that you are sitting in the cafe writing in your journal. Or on a park bench enjoying your gelato solo as the sun sets. In fact, in many countries that I visited, this seemed to be the norm instead of the exception.
When introverts do feel up for socializing with people we’ve met on the road, we can easily leave early if it gets to be overwhelming and return to our rooms without any hard feelings.
Introverts Know How to Entertain Themselves
Introverts are well versed at entertaining ourselves. We actually enjoy our own company, so those long bus or train rides are no problem for us. We will use this time to read our books, perhaps nap, or daydream as we gaze out of the window. Introverts also have no problem chilling out for the day watching Netflix as needed to recover from too many days in a row of bucket list checking.
Over the years, we have also likely developed many hobbies and see traveling solo as a way for us to dive deeper into them. A yoga and meditation retreat in Costa Rica may sound amazing to our introverted yogis, but awful to their extroverted friends. Introverts can gear their solo trips towards spending time doing things that give them joy that they often don’t have the time or energy for in the real world.
Introverts will have Less Guilt about their Extroverted Travel Partner’s Enjoyment
Introverts, have you ever taken a road trip with an extroverted friend? I remember one road trip with someone who did not stop talking for 6 hours, it was all idle chatter and stories I’d heard 100 times before. All I wanted to do was admire the landscape as we drove or even simply enjoy some silence. Saying I was completely exhausted by the time we reached our destination is an understatement.
However, I felt compelled to keep up my end of the conversation. I didn’t want her to become bored or God Forbid think I was boring. (This thought is something I struggle with constantly because of my introverted nature).
When I travel with extroverts, I worry that they will get bored if I decide to linger in a conversation with a local or a location longer than “normal”. On the flip side, I feel that the idle chatter and need for small talk takes away from my ability to simply be and enjoy the present moment.
I’m not saying that introverts and extroverts can’t travel together, but they should have a conversation about expectations of the trip and personal boundaries.
A Few Tips for Introverted Solo Travelers
This leads me into a few tips I have from my experiences traveling as an introvert through over 20 countries, solo.
Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
I know, I know, I just said how traveling solo is a little respite from society’s expectations of us to be extroverted. However, meeting new people while traveling is an amazing experience. And know that it will happen for you even if you are extremely quiet, like me. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple hello or a smile to someone on the street to have a conversation that you will remember for years.
Sign Up for a Day Tour
If you want to meet people, but also don’t want to feel tied down to someone you already know, consider signing up for a day tour for an experience that really interests you. The other people on the tour will have similar interests and allow you to move past the travel small talk and into learning about the experience from a new perspective. Plus, if you’re not vibing with the people on tour with you, then put on your headphones, chill out, and focus on the activity at hand.
Avoid the Party Hostels
I’ve stayed in a few party hostels with the intention of using them as a way to meet new people. Then the party happens and I get overwhelmed by the amount of people that are there and just want to go to bed, but I can’t sleep because it’s too damn loud from all of the party people.
When you’re booking a hostel, make sure the description or reviews doesn’t mention parties. But, do check the reviews for clues that it is still easy to meet people there. Perhaps there’s a community room or nightly hostel dinners. This type of environment could be a happy medium for introverts.
Splurge on a Private Room
When all else fails, splurge on a private room, especially when you are traveling for a long period of time. Traveling is incredibly worthwhile for introverts, but can also zap our energy. There is nothing better than spending the day exploring at your leisure and then coming back to a cozy private room all for yourself. A private room creates a safe space for you to decompress and relish in your favorite self care routine. If a private room is just not in the budget, then choose a dorm room with fewer than 6 beds and ensure that your bunk comes with a privacy curtain. Pack some noise cancelling headphones and you’re set!
If you consider yourself an introvert with a desire to travel but fear that your natural introversion will hinder your experience, I’m here to tell you, introvert to introvert, that taking a solo trip is the best thing you can do. When you travel solo you can honor your introversion and perhaps even change your perspective on it. For me, I always wanted to be the extroverted kid who could easily make friends wherever she went. Each new chapter in my life, I told myself that’s who I would be and then I would fail and beat myself up over it.
Traveling solo, helped me accept my introversion for the strength that it is and not as a weakness to overcome for societal acceptance. I’m hopeful that your solo trip can do the same for you.