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My Travel Experience As An Introvert
Hi, I’m Rocky & I’m an introvert who has been documenting my travels online for the last 10 years and counting.
During that time, I’ve also been studying introversion to better understand myself and others. It’s an interest in personality psychology that developed after I took the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) in September 2013 through one of my classes in the Rutgers Business School.
After completing my degree in psychology, I continued to learn about introversion of my own accord in an attempt to discover our similarities, differences, strengths, weaknesses, and so on.
One of the best decisions I’ve ever made has been choosing to travel despite my fears, anxieties, and introverted tendencies. A big goal behind starting this blog has been my aim to show other introverts the benefits of stepping out of our comfort zones to experience long-term travel.
What Does It Mean to Be an Introvert?
Ten years ago, when I received my MBTI results and saw I scored as more of an introvert than an extrovert, my entire self-image was challenged and I realized I still had a lot to learn about myself.
“I’m an introvert? How can that be?” I asked myself as I reassessed my sense of self.
It was at that point that I began to realize my entire understanding of the terminology was all wrong.
The problem was that before taking Management Skills at Rutgers University, I had no clue what it really meant to be an introvert or an extrovert.
Introversion: Facts & Misconceptions
When you hear the word introvert, you might think of a shy person who is quiet and prefers to be alone. While that could be true for some introverts, there’s much more to this personality type.
How could I be an introvert if I’m somebody who loves talking to strangers, making new friends, and actually enjoys public speaking!? That sure didn’t sound like an introvert to me.
It’s a common misconception that introverts are shy, antisocial, or socially awkward. Of course, they can be, but so can extroverts. These are purely stereotypes; they’re not defining features.
In my personality psychology class, I learned that being an introvert, on its own, doesn’t intrinsically mean you are any of those things.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert all depends on how you process and interact with the world around you.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into that.
What Is An Introvert?
According to the famous Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” are two personality types that categorize people according to how they get or spend their energy.
Introverts, Jung explained, turn to their inner minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people to achieve their energy needs.
An introvert is someone with qualities of a personality type known as introversion, which indicates that they typically prefer focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas, rather than what’s happening externally. Introverts enjoy spending time with one or two people, rather than large groups or crowds.
10 Tips to Help Introverts Travel The World
Based on my first-hand travel experience, here are 10 unique tips I’ve curated to help fellow introverts travel more comfortably.
1. Travel the World More Slowly
When you first start traveling, you may experience FOMO (fear of missing out) and it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in it. A lot of travelers will try to squeeze in a ton of plans every single day of their trip or even visit as many destinations as possible each week.
If you travel “less,” you can see “more.”
Instead of passing through with snapshots of several places, you can travel slowly to form a deeper connection with individual destinations. While backpacking, I routinely stayed 30 days or longer in a single city.
2. Experiment with Solo Travel
One of the most stressful aspects of traveling can be when things don’t go according to plan. A good way to curb against this is building buffer time and flexibility into your itinerary.
A simple solution to make this entirely possible: travel solo!
Although planning your solo trip out in advance can help mitigate travel anxiety, make sure to pencil in days with no plans as well. In other words, plan to have no plans.
Take care not to overextend yourself. After you have experienced long-term travel over the span of many months, you begin to realize that not every day needs to be occupied with something.
If you’ve never traveled solo before, a good place to begin is with my Digital Nomad Guide that explains exactly how to earn a fully remote source of income that will enable you to travel long-term.
3. Pack the Best Travel Gear for Introverts
Introverts thrive in silence. We need a quiet space to be able to concentrate. The challenge with traveling is that you can’t always control what surrounds you. The key is to pack introvert-friendly travel gear.
What are you supposed to do if you find yourself seated close to the back of an airplane near the engines… or seated beside a screaming baby…? What if you’re on a noisy bus with chatty passengers or a screeching subway?
I always recommend a pair of noise-cancelling headphones along with a set of discreet ear plugs. These links will show you my top picks: they’re personal favorites of mine that I never travel without.
For a full list of everything I pack, you can shop my travel gear.
4. Embrace Having Time Alone With Nature
Introverts enjoy being surrounded with lively activity without necessarily having to partake in it. It’s inexplicably enjoyable and interesting for us to be surrounded by people in a space where we are not expected to participate. For a lot of introverts, just observing such a scene can be stimulating enough.
Set aside one or two hours per day while traveling in new places to walk around outdoors and reclaim a sense of calm through nature and wildlife.
If you prefer the indoors, you can achieve a similar sense of rejuvenation from visiting coffee shops, libraries, museums, etc.
When I travel, I like to visit public parks! That’s where a lot of the animal friendships stories I’ve written about have stemmed from.
It’s hard to beat the sense of peacefulness that comes from watching birds flutter from one brach to another.
If you’re lucky and patient enough, you may even meet one that trusts you!
Take every opportunity you can get to spend time alone in the fresh outdoors.
5. Consider Joining Group Tours
When I traveled on a group trip to China in 2015, I had so much fun. Even though we were a group of strangers at the start, it was really easy to become friends since our entire group went from city to city together, participating in all of the same tours and attractions.
If you’re a bit on the shy side, group trips can be a fun way to naturally meet new people.
While browsing group tours, aim to choose ones that max out around 12-15 people. I’ve found this to be the ideal group size for introverts who want the company of others while touring new places.
If you decide to go the route of booking private tours, the one-on-one nature of these personalized tours means you’ll get very in-depth and authentic experiences of the places you’re exploring. The trade off is that these tours typically cost more.
Also, while this may seem counterintuitive, you may find yourself conversing more with your personal tour guide than you would on a group tour while surrounded by more people.
6. Select Destinations that Offer a Sense of Calm
Using tools like Skyscanner, you can browse destinations that align with whichever type of place you think will bring you the most joy.
You can look up specific destinations or browse everywhere to find destinations that are trending or are most affordable at any given point in time.
In general, I try to select places with mountains, trees, or a close proximity to the sea. It’s when I’m surrounded by nature that I feel most in-tune with my greater purpose.
7. Allow Yourself to Splurge on Private Accommodation
The same thought process should extend to choosing your accommodation as well. Your lodging can be a big determining factor in whether your trip is enjoyable or unpleasant.
In general, I recommend hostels to introverts for the social dynamic of meeting people organically.
It is a similar feeling to being in a college dorm where there’s a sense of community and friendliness since you are surrounded by people who automatically have something in common with you: being there.
If you really don’t want to socialize at all, you can find peaceful solitude through booking a private room in a hostel, hotel, or even booking an airbnb private stay all to yourself.
With your own space to retreat to, you’ll never have to worry about your social battery depleting.
8. Download Social Audio Apps If You Feel Lonely
Some introverts find it difficult to meet people and make new friends. If you’re traveling alone and want to meet new people, there are two main ways to do this:
- Befriend the locals (or local travelers)
- Connect with others through technology
The first option is ideal if you’re comfortable visiting local bars, coffee shops, night clubs, or striking up one-on-one conversations with people in your surroundings.
By simply saying hi, introducing myself, or being willing to meet new people, I’ve made great friends while traveling.
If you’re a little more on the shy side, another excellent option is to use social audio apps. My favorite one is called Clubhouse.
Social audio apps allow you to meet new people who share similar interests. Clubhouse skyrocketed in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic when everyone was stuck at home.
Thanks to Clubhouse, I met a group of like-minded travelers who I’ve since met in real life and continue to keep in touch with. Most recently, we visited the NYC American Express Centurion Lounge.
9. Keep a Journal or Start a Blog
Traveling nonstop can become overly stimulating for introverts.
My entire life, I’ve always packed travel journals with me to take on trips. In 2013, I started my travel blog and I’ve preferred that method ever since. It’s a fun way to document where you’ve been and what you’ve done!
Studies also show that writing things down can help you regulate your emotions.
10. Embrace the Transcendent Power of Solitude While Traveling
Susan Cain once said, “We’ve known about the transcendent power of solitude for centuries; it’s only recently that we’ve forgotten it.”
Introverts have the advantage of thriving in solitude, an inevitable component of solo travel.
Embrace the transcendent power of solitude while traveling. Bring books that will inspire you as you wait at quiet gates in the airport, visit destinations that will shift how you see the world, and try things you never imagined you would ever experience.
Some of mankind’s greatest innovations and ideas have been the direct result of introverts harnessing their creativity and vast minds during extended periods of isolation.
Focus and you, too, can bring about the next change we need in the world.
Solo Travel for Introverts: FAQ
I hope you found these 10 tips helpful! In this section, I’ll try to answer some questions I’ve been asked over the last few years.
Have You Ever Tried Traveling Solo Before?
I sure have! My blog features many unique posts about solo travel.
In 2018, I took my first long-term backpacking trip where I left my country on a one-way ticket with no predetermined plans of where I’d go, who I’d be with, or what I’d do.
How Can I Decide if I’m an Introvert?
I took the official Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator which is a paid assessment that is given by a licensed MBTI administrator. You can visit a professional career counselor or licensed psychologist to take it too.
Alternatively, there is an unpaid (but perhaps less accurate) free personality test you can take online.
You also may be able to decide for yourself based on the attributes of a typical introvert.
Is Solo Travel Good for Introverts?
It depends on the individual, but I’m of the belief that introverts are actually better suited for solo travel than extroverts due to the isolation that can accompany traveling by yourself.
Note, this is only a slight advantage that I’ve noticed and a lot of variables can actually tilt the scale to make the opposite statement true (such as staying in hostels every night.)
With enough social interaction, desire to explore, and determination to push onward, solo travel can be made to work for absolutely anyone.
Do You Have Any Other Questions?
Have a related question? Leave a comment below and I’ll update this post with an answer!