I used to think something was wrong with me.
“I feel like a hermit.”
“I don’t have as many friends as other people have…”
“Why do I enjoy being alone so much?”
These were thoughts that constantly circulated my mind growing up as a teenager. I would look around my friends and peers in high school and always wonder why I intensely craved being alone after socializing or why I felt most happiest when I was walking around by myself, quietly engaged in thought.
It wasn’t until my twenties that I discovered I was more affable whenever I carved out time for myself. (I am after all an INFJ.)
At first thought, traveling does not seem like an activity for an introvert.
Traveling involves being outdoors, navigating your way around a foreign country, speaking to many different people (in possibly different languages!), and being outside of your usual comfort zone. And when you’re a solo traveler, people gravitate towards you.
Solo traveling can be lonely, and we all want to feel part of something.
Often people think introverts are quiet, shy, keep to themselves, don’t like to go out, etc. But that can’t be further from the truth! I write about that here.
Extroverts and introverts actually differ in how they obtain their energy.
What’s the Difference?
Let’s break it down:
Introvert: An individual who gets their energy by being alone and doing solo activities.
Extrovert: An individual who gets their energy (or “recharges”) by socializing with people.
Another subtle difference between extroverts and introverts is the number of people they like to socialize with.
Introverts feel they get their quality friend time by spending one-on-one time with their close friends (think: coffee dates, dinner for 2, hiking) or being around 2-3 individuals at most.
Extroverts love group situations, socializing in groups of three or more. (Think: board game nights, parties, big group dinners).
Often when people meet me or don’t know me well enough yet automatically assume I am an extrovert because I am social, energetic, and enthusiastic about pretty much anything, but I’m actually a total introvert!
However, I am a social introvert. Social introverts excitedly socialize and love to engage in activities with friends, but they also do get tired after socializing with friends for more than a certain amount of time.
Introverts crave quiet solo time. Which is why every introvert needs to know their limit. Each personality is different. Each individual is different in what they need to refuel and store their energy. Knowing yourself is the most important step.
Tips for Traveling as an Introvert
As an introvert, in order to reserve your energy while traveling, I recommend these tips:
Know and Accept Yourself
How long do you need solo time? How long can you socialize before you start to feel tired? What are the activities that refuel you?
For example, I love blogging and writing in my journal as a way to get back in touch with the inner workings of my mind and spirit. It’s even more critical that you plan time aside for this while traveling.
As a solo traveler, you meet a lot of people and make plenty of friends rather quickly, as opposed to if you were traveling with friends or a partner. Knowing your limits can help you plan accordingly. Accepting that you enjoy alone time is also important. I didn’t understand why I felt the need to quietly be alone for years until I grew older and realized I was an introvert. But it’s an important part of your personality and accepting and allowing that natural part of you is a beautiful, wonderful gift to yourself. I recommend learning more about yourself: once you better know yourself, you can grow by easing into your discomfort zone.
I often meet a lot of extroverts while traveling, and I’ve had many instances where they plan to spend the entire day adventuring and talking with me.
Although I love befriending and socializing with new friends, I also am aware that I won’t be happy spending the entire day chatting…even if it’s my best friend or my partner!
I’ve had instances where I felt bad for leaving friends after so many hours, canceled a morning trip because I wanted to spend the morning writing, or even leaving my partner for an hour to write but you have to do what is best for your specific, individual needs.
When my partner and I travel, I often take breaks to write in cafes, go for a stroll, or take a short solo rest by myself.
It’s what I need in order to be my usual, happy self, and my partner completely understands that.
The best way to let your new friends know is simply communicating to them in a kind way that you would like some solo time. Anyone can understand that, and if they feel hurt that you don’t want to spend all of your time with them, just be honest and be kind. This is your trip, after all. Spend your money the way you want to spend it on your holiday.
70% of my time is spent solo: walking, writing, editing, reading, ruminating, eating, photographing. It’s my time where I refuel. It’s where I become my most creative and thus my most happiest self.
But what’s most important for my alone time is that it fuels me to be the perky, outgoing, and enthusiastic person that people know me as.
Not only do I benefit from my alone time, but everyone around me benefits, too: we all get the best version of me.
All that stored energy is immediately released in social interactions allowing me to listen intently to the person speaking to me and actively engage in dialogue and stimulating conversation.
I wouldn’t be able to socialize and engage at a high level with my loved ones, if it weren’t for my alone time!
Life is Not One-Size-Fits-All
What works for me may not work for you. I am not recommending you take more solo time or socialize more. It all depends on your personality. Personally, I need to by myself 70% of the day.
I, also, however, don’t know anyone else who needs as much alone time as I do in my day-to-day life.
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired, go for a solo walk. If you feel charged, go out adventuring with your friends. Your body knows what you need; trust it.
As an introvert, I understand what it’s like to travel solo and the need to carve out specific time to be alone. It’s important to our personalities, our creative spirits and our peace of minds. Take that afternoon to yourself, and enjoy some you-time! Your mind will thank you for it. 🙂