I am an introvert. One of many introverts that struggle to fit into an extroverted society.
In fact, I am so introverted at times that I am surprised I love travelling so much because there are days that I celebrate because I don’t have to leave the house.
And just so you know being an introvert doesn’t mean you are quiet. It is a common misconception that isn’t true. I just wanted to get that out there for all the people that are rolling around laughing at the thought of me being quiet. The term “talk with a mouth full of marbles underwater” has been bandied about in our household a lot! But as an introvert, I struggle with small talk. But when I am with someone, I am comfortable with, and a good conversation ensues then… Well, you get the picture.
I have been reading a fantastic book – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.
I am learning a lot, and I find this book fascinating, maybe you will too.
So as an introvert who loves travelling, staying in crowded places is not my thing. Neither is finding the best bars (although I do love a good wine or two) but finding great food whether it be a street vendor, a cosy café or a fine dining restaurant is of vital importance.
I also love to cook, nothing fancy, but certainly tasteful and I love staying in apartments and cooking up a storm.
But I am not the wild, adventurous type. Hiking in the wilderness is not my thing. Although, I have been known to do some adventurous stuff (well for me anyway) back in the day like bungy jumping, diving (that was an awesome time in my life) and camping in the back of beyond, nowadays it’s more about discovering places, what makes them tick and the people that inhabit them.
I love good conversations, getting to know new people and hearing stories both about them and the places they live. Other people’s way of life intrigues me.
And that’s why it’s important to know your travel style.
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Does any of this sound familiar?
You’re travelling with friends. You are in a crowded place surrounded by tourists. Your friends are searching for a bar where they can enjoy a few cocktails and then they will be looking for somewhere to dance the night away.
And you feel miserable. You may even be wondering “What’s wrong with me?”
I know, I used to feel that way ALL THE TIME.
I couldn’t work out why I didn’t enjoy that sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong; I went along most of the time because frankly, I was scared of being left on my own.
But what would I have preferred to do? Get out of the crowd, find a small quiet bar, sit somewhere in a corner, up the back and sit with a few close friends and enjoy the quiet and a good conversation
Maybe you have heard these phrases, “You’re so boring”, “You’re so quiet, you never say a thing”, “Is something wrong, you’re not talking/dancing?”
I have even had someone tell me that when they first met me, they thought I was a snob because I was so quiet.
Well, guess what? There is nothing wrong with me or those of you who are reading this and relating to it.
I am an introvert
In fact, about half the population are introverts; it’s just we are overlooked by all the extroverts jumping around the place trying to be seen and heard (sorry for the slight dig).
So what happens when introverts go travelling, and they feel compelled to see all the big ticket tourist places on their list?
You know the sites. The ones crowded with masses of humanity. Just the thought makes me want to crawl into a corner and hide.
I used to think I was lazy, that I didn’t have the stamina that others did.
And that’s where after all these years of trying to keep up with others, or thinking I was wasting my time travelling, did I finally work out what works for me.
Now I attract other like-minded people to travel with, and suddenly all seems right in the world.
Facts about introverts
We recharge our energy from quiet, alone time.
We become drained by too much interaction with the outside world. It doesn’t mean we can’t interact or don’t enjoy it. Far from it.
We just need downtime.
8 Things for all Introverts to consider before travelling
Always factor downtime into your schedule. For me, that could mean a quiet afternoon. I laugh (on the inside) when people are planning their travel, and they talk about their accommodation.
Often they chose the cheapest hotel saying, “Well it’s not like we’re spending time in our room”.
Wrong! I am!
2. Early Mornings and Late Nights
I hate crowds with a passion, and therefore I do miss out on some of the things because of my sheer dislike of crowds.
But it does mean I will get up early and explore when it is quiet before the crowds emerge.
Or stay up late after they have gone home. Some of my most precious travel memories are of those times. The peace I find is indescribable. It’s like I am in a different place.
Late evenings when the tourist crowds have disappeared is a magical time. Like the time we sat in St Mark’s Square in Venice, with only a few people left, where we sat and enjoyed the peace.
Venice early morning
Read More: Seeing the Real Venice
3. Away from the Beaten Path
It’s not hard to find quieter places where you don’t have to jostle elbows with other travellers.
While the crowds are at the big drawcard attractions you can head in the opposite direction, find the lesser known paths.
I like to do a walking tour with a local who will tell you the little stories about a place or show you the hidden gems away from the crowds. They will share with you their favourite places where the locals hang out.
Take note and revisit in your own time. I avoid large tour groups. If I do a tour, I choose small groups, and I don’t mind paying extra for them.
Small group walking tour in Montmartre
4. Travelling Companions
Choose your travelling companions well.
Although someone who is opposite to us can lead us out of our comfort zone and experience things, we would never have thought to do, doing that all day, every day will wear thin.
Travel with a like-minded person, and if that is not possible lay down the ground rules before you even book your trip.
Explain your travel style and that you are happy to get out and do things on your own. If you don’t want to do things on your own, then find that similar person or join a small group trip that suits your needs. Make sure you read about the people hosting the group and testimonials. That should give you a good idea of what to expect.
I shied away from Contiki tours in my younger days because it seemed like it would not be a good fit for me.
I have travelled with the wrong people in the past, and it is exhausting for me and frustrating for them. Choose wisely; your travel time is precious.
My colleague and friend Kathy, my perfect travelling companion
Read More: An Introverts View of New York
6. Manage your Jet Lag
If you suffer from jet lag AND, have to deal with crowds, and travelling companions things can take a turn for the worse.
I find it hard to function if I am exhausted and let’s face it, travelling from Australia to Europe is a LONG HAUL flight, or in fact, a couple of long-haul flights.
So when I land, and I am faced with a travelling companion who wants to hit the ground running it is not going to work so well.
Make sure you know yourself and how you handle jet lag. For me going to Europe is not a problem. Going to the USA is. So I know what I need to do when I arrive, and I also plan my itinerary accordingly.
7. Don’t Share
Consider having your own room. I know it will cost you more, but it may be your saving grace particularly if you are travelling with someone who has a different travelling style to you.
Your own room allows you to have your own space to recharge and relax in. Or consider a larger room if you have to share. There is nothing worse than sharing a small room with someone you are not compatible with.
8. Know yourself
This sounds like a given, but if you have not travelled before or with someone else you may not have even thought about this.
My travel style is slow and relaxed. Each day has something planned, some days are even jam-packed, but there is always downtime.
I take my time working things out, and that’s ok. I don’t need to rush. It’s not a competition who can figure out the bus system quickest.
Anxiety is something else I need to factor in, and taking my time can relieve some of that pressure.
I need time to process things. On occasion, I can say yes to something spontaneously, but other times I need time to think about it.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m very decisive and quick at making decisions. In that department, I am indeed not a procrastinator, but just don’t put me on the spot surround by noise and people and expect me to jump to it. The quickest solution is not always the best one.
So it is imperative that you know yourself and your boundaries.
Although the extroverted society we live in may have you thinking otherwise, there is nothing wrong with being an introvert.
The world needs both. It just feels we need to act more like an extrovert to be heard.
Stand strong in who you are and know yourself well. It has taken a lot for me to get to this point in my life and feel perfectly comfortable with who I am. All 47 years! Educating myself has been worthwhile.
Self-awareness and awareness of why others behave as they do make me able to make better choices for myself.