Travelling Solo: Tips for Introverted Types

On a quiet August day at a beach just an hour away from Amsterdam--introvert bliss! Photo credit: me, 2014.
On a quiet August day at a beach just an hour away from Amsterdam–introvert bliss! Photo credit: me, 2014.

As the weather gets nicer here in the west coast of Canada, I’m getting increasingly itchier feet to see things besides the view of the campus from my classroom windows. Maybe you’re longing for new sights, too! So here are my two cents/pence/etc. for travelling solo as an introvert, including some of my travel photos!

On Finding a Hostel that Feels Like Home.
The coolest hostel I’ve stayed at was in Copenhagen: each bed had a curtain you could put up, so you could hide yourself from others. Very comforting. While I haven’t seen this elsewhere, my point is that hostels do vary in their introvert-friendliness. If you’re looking for a chill place to reflect on your travels or to meet others who share your quieter interests, it’s worth it to pay a bit extra for that hippie independent hostel. The times that I stayed at those types of places, I definitely enjoyed the atmosphere more and found it easier to talk to people. Check out hostelworld.com to see all of your options—choosing wisely will impact your travel experience.

On Dealing with Sensory Overload.
If you’ve reached your limit with constantly being surrounded by strangers, you could always spring for a private room in a hostel or even move up to a plain ol’ hotel. But for the times when money isn’t on your side, here are my suggestions:
• If you’re mostly city-hopping, try to include some time in nature, too. Parks within a city can be okay, but often they’re also busy. Definitely research places nearby your home base that you can reach by public transport.
• If eating out constantly is stressful, go grocery shopping. Honestly, grocery shopping can be a tourist activity in itself: there are so many different foods to check out (and it’s usually cheaper!). Buy some sandwich material to bring with you to the park, or plan to make a proper meal at your hostel—and do the cooking at a strange time of day to avoid human contact.
• Go to a library. They’re good places to get some peace and quiet, and you can soak up some of the culture of the place you’re visiting. Libraries rock my world.

On Being Alone But Not Lonely.
I can remember, after travelling for just three days solo, feeling unbearably lonely in my busy hostel. That is, until I saw this girl sitting near me at breakfast, who I’d also seen the day before playing piano—and I thought, “what the hey—I’ll just compliment her on her piano playing.” So I did and we ended up having a ton to talk about and later we walked around the city until we had to part ways.

True story. That is actually the only experience I’ve had with instantly clicking with someone while travelling. But that’s okay, because I never have to see those other people again! So go say ‘hi.’ And maybe come up with some other things to say. The longer you’re lonely, the easier it’ll get to keep going that way. It’s worth the (minimal) risk!

Here’s more of my take on this matter, complete with travel photos:

On Being Friendly But Also a Bit Flighty.
If you do end up bonding with people who invite you to check out the nightlife or anything, don’t feel like you have to stay or even go at all. From my experience, most travelers are pretty laidback: you may chat over breakfast, wander the streets for a bit, but it’s just the nature of the experience that eventually one of you will want to do something different. Usually I wouldn’t promote flightiness, but it’s pretty acceptable when travelling.

And that concludes my tips on travelling! I’d love to hear about any successes or mishaps from your travels, whether you were on your own or with others—please share them in the comments!

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