Travel tips for Introverts

It's just about summertime, and for a lot of us, that means travel time.

Do you like traveling alone?

Traveling solo is one of life's pleasures, for me. Solo trips are adventures not only into the world, but into oneself. They test our resourcefulness, our tolerance for the unfamiliar, our ability to stay open to whatever the world throws in our path, even if it's just conversation with a stranger.

But traveling solo doesn't appeal to all introverts. If it's not for you but you have no one in particular to travel with, you might consider joining a tour. I know, I know. The very thought makes introverts recoil, but I'm going to suggest you rethink. Believe it or not, if you do it right, it's not horrible.

My career as a professional introvert was launched when I published an essay titled "Confessions of an Introverted Traveler." As well as my career as an introvert, I also have a career as a travel writer and I'd like to draw on both to share some tips for enjoying both kinds of travel, and banishing any bugaboos.

Solo travel

There's a ton of information out there by and about solo travelers, so I"ll just give you some very basic thoughts.

Don't pack more than you can easily carry yourself, no matter how you're traveling. With no one to watch your luggage while you run to the restroom or check what track your train leaves from, being overly burdened is a drag, and, frankly, unsafe. You can't keep an eye on your surroundings when you're wrestling too much luggage.

Take care of yourself. My credo (and this goes for solo or not-solo travel): Eat when you're hungry, drink when you're thirsty, rest when you're tired. You want a sad and lonely pity party? Get sick when you're traveling solo.

For many people, meals are the toughest part of traveling solo. To a certain extent, it's simply something you get used to. I have found that breakfast and lunch are no big deal, since many people eat those meals alone, but dinner can feel awkward. If I'm feeling that way, I might eat early, when restaurants are likely to be less pissy about a solo diner taking up a table (I judge restaurants harshly that don't treat solo diners well) and when the room isn't filled with couples and families. Or I eat at the bar, where I can chat with the bartender and other patrons if I'm in the mood. I've tried to wean myself from always burying my face in a book while I eat because it cuts me off from the experience. Sometimes I just sit and watch. For that reason, outdoor cafes can be particularly nice; all the more to look at.

If you find yourself in need of some interaction, sign up for a walking tour of a city or a docent-led museum tour. Sometimes, if you're feeling disconnected and at loose ends on a solo trip, a little conversation is all you need.


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