I am an introvert—one of many introverts struggling to fit into an extroverted society.
I am so introverted at times; I am surprised I love travelling so much because there are days that I celebrate not having to leave the house.
To set the record straight, being an introvert doesn’t mean you are quiet. It is a common misconception.
I just wanted to get that out there for all the people that might be 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. When I am with someone who I am comfortable with, and a good conversation ensues then, well, you get the picture.
I am learning a lot, and I find the 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 busiest bars (although I do love a glass of wine or two). You will find me where the food is, whether that’s a street vendor, a cosy café or a fine dining restaurant.
I also love to cook, nothing fancy, but tasty, and I love staying in apartments and cooking up a storm when travelling.
But I am not the wild, adventurous type. (that – things have changed a lot, as of 17 December 2020 I have walked the Camino Frances!)
Hiking in the wilderness is not my thing.
Although, I have done some adventurous stuff (well for me anyway) back in the day.
Do things like bungy jumping, diving, and camping in the back of beyond count?
Now I like exploring new destinations, good conversations, getting to know new people and listening to their stories. Other people’s way of life intrigues me.
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’ll be looking for somewhere to dance the night away.
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, preferably up the back with a few close friends and enjoy 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 had someone tell me that when they first met me, they thought I was a snob because I was quiet.
Well, guess what? There is nothing wrong with me and all you other introverts out there!
I am an introvert and you might be too.
About half the population are introverts. It doesn’t feel like it. But in a society that has become increasingly extroverted, it can feel like we are overlooked. By all the extroverts jumping around the place trying to be seen and heard (sorry, not so slight dig).
So what happens when introverts go travelling, and they feel compelled to see all the significant tourist places on their list?
You know the sites – the ones crowded with people. With lines as far as the eye can see.
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 others did.
Finally, after years of trying to keep up with others, or thinking I was wasting my time travelling, I worked out what works for me.
Now I attract other like-minded travellers, and suddenly all seems right in the world.
Facts about Introverts
Introverts regain our energy from quiet, alone time. Getting out in nature is a big one for me.
We become drained by too much interaction. It doesn’t mean we can’t interact or don’t enjoy it. Far from it. We may just need to follow it up with some downtime.
8 Things for all Introverts to consider before travelling
Always factor downtime into your schedule. For me, that could mean a quiet afternoon. Even a nap.
You might also find me sitting in a cafe, reading, sipping a coffee and people watching. Doing something other than running around from place to place.
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. Occasionally, that means I miss out on some 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 were made during those quiet times.
Like the time we sat in St Mark’s Square in Venice, late at night, with only a few people milling around. We sat enjoying the peace and the view.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to See the Best of Venice
3. Off 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 love joining walking tours, especially ones led by a local who will tell you little stories about a place or show you the hidden gems away from the crowds.
Take note and revisit stops on your tour 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.
4. Travelling Companions
Choose your travelling companions wisely.
Although someone opposite to us in personality can lead us out of our comfort zone and experience new and exciting things, doing that all day, every day will wear thin.
Travel with a like-minded person, and if not possible, lay down the ground rules before you book the trip.
Explain your travel style and that you are happy to get out and do things on your own.
Read everything you can before joining tour groups.
I shied away from Contiki tours in my younger days because it seemed like they would not be a good fit for me.
I have travelled with the wrong people before. It can be exhausting for me and frustrating for them.
Choose wisely; your travel time is precious.
6. Manage your Jet Lag
If you suffer from jet lag and have to deal with crowds, and travelling companions, things could turn ugly.
I don’t function well when exhausted, which is every time I travel outside Australia. Australia to Europe is two LONG HAUL flights.
When I land, if I am 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. I know what I need to do when I arrive to manage my exhaustion (proper planning and rest), and I also plan my itinerary accordingly (no exhausting activities on days one and two).
7. Don’t Share
Consider booking a single room. 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 space to recharge and relax.
8. Know yourself
Knowing yourself and your needs sound like a given. However, if you have not travelled before or with someone else, you may not have considered 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.
My anxiety is something else I factor in, and taking my time can relieve some of the 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 not a procrastinator. But don’t put me on the spot surrounded by noise and people and expect me to jump to it. The quickest solution is not always the best one.
So you must know yourself and your boundaries.
Although the extroverted society we live in might make you feel you need to be something more, there is nothing wrong being an introvert.
The world needs both.
Stand firm 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 entirely comfortable with who I am. All 47 years! Educating myself has been worthwhile.
Self-awareness and awareness of other people’s behaviour allow me to make better choices for myself.