The beautiful and sometimes complex idiosyncrasies of the introverted personality type can be magnified while travelling. The unfamiliar environments, changes in routine and potential crowds that often infiltrate the exploration of foreign lands create specific challenges for introverts. Here are some of the most beneficial strategies that I have utilized to improve my travel experience while honouring my need for calm and keeping my sensitive spirit intact:
- Allow for sufficient down time
It is so important while travelling as an introvert to not over-plan your time away; by doing so, you will feel exhausted and depleted within a few days. Make a list of the most important things that you would like to do or see, and then allow for flexibility in your schedule to just peacefully stroll, explore and get lost in your own thoughts. It can be tempting, especially if you have a limited amount of time in a destination, to pack in as much as possible but some of the greatest memories I have from my travels are the days where I just wandered at my own pace and stumbled across hidden treasures. This will help you to maintain energy levels from day-to-day.
- Travel in the shoulder/off season
In addition to saving you some money, travelling in the off-season can be a dream for an introvert- fewer crowds, less chaos, shorter lines and in many cases a more unique and intimate experience. While summer is often the most tempting time of year to travel, nothing is more off-putting to this introvert than overly crowded tourist attractions mixed with suffocating heat. Autumn has become my preferred season for travel and I highly recommend planning your next trip during this magical and serene time of year.
- Stay at an Airbnb vs. a Hotel
Last year I travelled to Iceland with a friend (and fellow introvert) who prefers using the Airbnb service to hotels. We searched for a whole home or apartment for rent- as opposed to booking rooms in a shared space- with the cozy, minimalist, Nordic aesthetic that we were drawn to. Arriving at our Airbnb, we felt an immediate sense of belonging and sanctuary. We were able to purchase groceries and make some meals at ‘home’ after a day of sightseeing or to linger over breakfast with no time constraints before venturing out. We could retreat to our own separate bedrooms every night and have ample quiet, peaceful time to process our experiences. In addition- our local host provided a wealth of insider knowledge and recommendations for exploration in our destination.
- Travel solo
Given the amount of alone time I need to recharge, I have learned to genuinely love and enjoy my own company and travelling alone as an introvert can be incredibly liberating. Need an early night? Go for it. Want to ditch that planned museum visit and find a restful spot to people-watch all afternoon? Done. Nothing is more freeing than having every day to yourself to follow your unique rhythm, without having to worry or stress about the desires of others or how your wants and decisions may affect them. The first solo trip I ever took felt like a languid dream compared to the large group tour through Europe I had previously been on.
- Spend more time in one location if possible
The discomfort that is unearthed from the unfamiliarity of foreign countries can become magnified for an introvert as we are often very married to our routines and home environments. I have found that the more time I spend in one specific destination the more comfortable I feel and I begin to establish a regimen of my own that allows me to open myself up to a new city or country in a way that is not possible if I am constantly on the move.
- Create intimate opportunities for connection
Just because you are an introvert, does not mean that you don’t want to interact and connect with others while travelling. The important consideration is to ensure that opportunities for socialization are specific to your unique interests and in small groups. While in Paris solo, I attended several cooking classes which allowed me to connect with fellow travellers in an intimate environment while bonding over a shared interest. Themed walking tours are also a great option and spending a little bit extra for tours that are designated as ‘small-group’ is absolutely well worth it. I found that balancing these types of activities with ample solo exploration created the perfect travel experience.
Definitely agree – it’s so important to allocate yourself ‘cooldown’ time to recharge after sightseeing the big tourist hotspots. Glad you found the right accommodation to cater to your own schedule 🙂
Building in the recharging time is so vital for both my physical and emotional endurance when travelling. Where do you land on the introvert-extrovert spectrum?
I related to quite a lot of this Laura. Both Sladja and I are introverts and we do indeed follow some of the things you’ve outlined here. Summer can be a difficult time for us because it’s hard to get away from people, but we usually come up with something ha ha. For the past three years we’ve been running our online business while living long-term in a number of countries. Off-season living is definitely the best, as you say, while Airbnb, despite its many ups and downs, has mainly been our friend. Your Reykjavik place looks very elegant and homely. I would forgive those pastries their misshapenness I reckon and devour the lot 😉
I also find it helpful to have fellow introverts as travel partners as it makes burn-out less likely! I truly admire how you have found a way to travel and live in many different countries long-term over the last few years- spending extended time in one place really allows you to get a feel for the culture and rhythm in a new city. It is a dream of mine to be able to partake in extended travel one day. P.S. Thank you re: the pastries- they were definitely all consumed regardless of their wonky shapes lol
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Do you think you will actively try to achieve the long-term travel lifestyle? It definitely has its challenges (to say the least) and after three years of it we are starting to tire. After our current Greece stay we are looking at hitting somewhere long-term, at least a year and maybe even try a temporary residency. Considering the options…
At this point in my life, what is most likely/feasible is to take a year off to travel hopefully within the next 5 years. The long-term travel lifestyle may remain a dream for now…but who knows what the future will bring; I can imagine that after a few years of it many crave to put down some roots again- sounds like this is the stage you and Sladja are entering? I am so excited to hear about where you end up planting your feet after Greece 😊
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