Traveling can often seem like an extrovert’s game; new places full of new people and never a shortage of unavoidable social interactions between airports, hotels and tourist traps that still warrant a visit despite their crowds.
I can be very extroverted at times, but at the end of the day, I need to get in some solitude to reflect and recharge because being alone is generally when I feel most at ease. Airports, planes, hotels and tourist attractions are basically the opposite of what restores me; these things can quickly wear me down to a tired and snappy person, which gets in the way of enjoying the reasons I decided to travel in the first place.Even considering all this, I’m still able to travel every other month without getting too worn down. I’ve crafted my own method of travel that allows me to really enjoy a trip while mitigating some of the more tiring aspects. Sometimes people think my love of travel and my introversion are at odds, but traveling is absolutely a customizable experience and the way I travel allows those two desires to work together. Finding a method of travel that fits with your personality means you get the most out of your trip instead of losing some of that joy to stress from both physical and emotional exhaustion.
I try to travel whenever the opportunity arises because it’s one of the most effective tools for challenging yourself to reassess your worldview while also building up your tolerance for unpredictability. Honing these abilities translates into a higher capacity for keeping yourself together under pressure and more successfully managing your everyday stress.
So here’s my travel guide for introverts — because seeing the world doesn’t have to be as challenging as it sounds.
Where To Stay
I’m starting off with accommodations first because this is the part of my traveling method that’s transformed my experience the most. Using the service I do has completely altered both the type of trips I take as well as my experience on those trips. Check out my video where I explain how I’ve managed to completely cut out the cost of accommodations from traveling.
Using this new method, I’ve been staying in people’s homes while they’re away traveling themselves, which means I get the luxury (and privacy) of an entire home to myself for the duration of my trip. I can’t recommend this enough if you’re like me and need that time at home to ponder the day’s events and recharge after a day of extroversion, but can’t actually afford to rent out an entire home during your trip. Part of what makes traveling a tiresome endeavor is the impersonal feel of hotel after hotel; not to mention regardless of how nice your hotel is, you’re not planning to spend that much time in it when every night costs you.
Using the method I explain in the video, I’m able to take way longer trips than I could ever afford previously when I had to pay for accommodations. Now that I don’t pay for where I’m staying, I can extend my trips to lengths that allow me to feel less rushed and under pressure to get so much done in a short span of time. This means I can take a few days throughout my trip to just relax and process my experience within the privacy and comfort of a lovely home; a major difference in how quickly my extroversion fuel reserves begin to dwindle.
Flights & Airports
This is undoubtedly the hardest part of traveling. I’ve taken 10-hour flights, 2-hour flights, indirect flights and I’ve even missed flights. All of these are draining experiences in and of themselves, nevermind the added layer of having to be around crowds of strangers coughing around you and wondering if you’ll attract the TSA’s attention. Flying comes with its own set of routine activities that rapidly grate an introvert’s patience into dust.
However, there are a few things you can do to make this part of your trip as painless as possible that I only began to consider recently.
- Don’t immediately reach for the cheapest flight available.
This is something I’ve done out of budget cconsciousness for the majority of my traveling that finally came back to bite me when I needed to reschedule a flight. Most of us don’t question whether we want to pay extra for a “premium” economy ticket; we just want the cheapest flight available. Sometimes though, that price difference is as little as $25 and thus at least worth contemplating. If your flight is going to be stressful in one aspect (duration, connections, etc), you should really consider whether that premium ticket isn’t worth the extra space you’ll get from being able to choose a window seat. There’s nothing more unnerving for someone that values their space than having it invaded by foreign elbows for several hours straight. Plus, if you fly more than just 3 times a year, a refundable ticket will save you eventually, as it has for me.
- Don’t assume airport lounges are completely out of your reach.
While it’s definitely not the most accessible of all my tips for introverted travel, if you have the means or just hate airports enough, you should look into getting a credit card that will give you access to the calmer and less crowded sky lounges. Of course, the cards that offer this benefit come with an annual fee. So far the least offensive of the fees is Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card from American Express: $195 a year will get you discounted access to Delta’s Sky Club (as long as you’re flying Delta). Normally the rate for entrance is $59, so if used often enough, the discount can cover the cost of the card.
This article breaks down a list of the best credit cards for sky lounge access.
Every traveler has the must-sees like Paris and Rome on their travel to-do list, but as an introvert, there’s another world of travel open to you. Big cities and tourist-laden locations are kind of the antithesis of an introvert’s playground, so don’t forget to consider the destinations that lie beyond the beaten path.
While other people might balk at your plans to visit a quaint town in Eastern Europe, they’re not the ones taking that trip, you are. Craft your travel plans in line with what inspires and restores you. As someone that gets worn down by fast-paced and overcrowded destinations, what is a “boring” trip to others will feel like a vacation in paradise for you.
From my own experience, I decided to take a trip more in line with my solitary nature: 3 weeks in the mountainside of rural Vermont. Some of my friends thought I might’ve been losing it, but what’s hell for one person is heaven for another, and that trip turned out to be nothing short of heavenly for me.
Don’t feel compelled to follow the typical travel itinerary of seeing all the most famous cities of the world; that’s an extremely long list and its fame doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love it. Choosing your destinations comes down to deciding whether you’re trying to satisfy a checklist of famous sites or seeking to explore places that truly interest you. The latter will always yield a more meaningful experience.
Having a long list of crowded sights to see while traveling can start to suck the fun out of a trip, especially if you’re particularly crowd-averse. I’ve changed the way I do my sightseeing to a method that’s helped to not only keep my sanity intact but given me a unique traveling experience that’s tailored to my personality.
While you shouldn’t let the crowds keep you away from the world’s wonders (sometimes they’re crowded for good reason), you definitely should seek out some sights that are more in tune with your introverted nature. Creating a balanced itinerary will keep your stress down, which means your travel experience will feel less like a checklist of expectations to meet and more like an actual vacation.
Here is my list of sights to add to your travel to-do list that will help maintain a balance between extroversion and introversion during your trip.
• Local tea rooms and cafes
• Historic building tours
• Day trips to a rural area if staying in a city
• Hiking trails
• Picnic at a local park
• Independent theaters showing local or indie films
• Botanical gardens
• Local theatre companies for plays
Adding in a mix of introvert-centric travel stops helps to slow down the rate at which you become emotionally over-spent, which means more time used really enjoying your trip.
I use as much of these methods for introvert-friendly traveling whenever I can and they really make a difference in my traveling experience. Going from a time where my trips followed the more traditional, sightseeing-packed-week-in-a-1-room-hotel method, I can feel the reduction in stress and the higher levels of enjoyment I now have when traveling.
I’ve come to realize that the best trips are not always on the top 10 list destinations, but instead are the ones you’ve customized to fit your personality.