It’s no secret that travelling is an amazing way to learn more about the world and yourself. However, for those with introverted personalities, travelling alone presents unique difficulties.
If you lean towards the introverted side of the spectrum, there are many things that you can do to help yourself during your world travels. The tips below will help you to feel more confident and fully enjoy your trip, even if you’re battling shyness and anxiety…just as they did for me!
1. Embrace your nature
One of the great things about travelling is that introverts are often at an advantage over extroverts. When you’re travelling long distances, there are hours to be spent by yourself on trains, buses, or airplanes. While this may drive extroverts mad, it can be an opportune time to relax and recharge.
Another vital part of accepting your nature is being aware of the accommodation that best suits you. If you’re visiting a lower-budget destination, Southeast Asia for example, don’t hesitate to spend a little more money on a private room.
Recharging in your own space allows you to pace yourself while travelling solo. You can always find people to chat with elsewhere when you feel like it!
If your destination is on the costly side, find a solitary place in your accommodation where you can grab some alone time. If no such place exists, head to a nearby coffee shop with some headphones.
2. Explore beyond your comfort zone
One of the most important parts of travelling is the character-building experience. You probably wouldn’t decide to travel solo at all if you weren’t looking to grow. It’s worthwhile pushing yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time, especially in areas that may be more difficult at home.
If you need to meet up with others for a group tour or activity, push through the potential anxiety or shyness. This will help you to feel like a more capable person when you return home; it might even change you for good.
Pushing your boundaries can be a tricky thing. Make sure that you don’t overdo it. When you need to take a step back, spend some time by yourself. Solo travel is about striking the right balance between effort and activity, and it’s this process that teaches you what you can handle along the way.
3. Indulge in self-entertainment
Having your favourite entertainment available will help you during your journey. There are plenty of periods where you’ll need to pass time, perhaps on a 19-hour bus journey from Thailand to Laos where there are no direct routes!
This is where beloved books, shows, movies, and music can really come in handy. You’ll be able to pass the time by yourself and truly enjoy it.
Media can also be a great tool when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you need to escape for a moment, are feeling homesick, or can’t sleep anymore or at all, you can retreat into the world of your favourite stories and sounds. Something you listen to or watch regularly at home can bring about a deep sense of comfort on the road.
4. Take advantage of group tours
As previously mentioned, travelling should be a time of growth. Even if you have a natural tendency to isolate yourself, consider signing up for some group tours when visiting a new destination. This is a great way for you to meet new people and break out of your shell.
Splitting your time between tours and independent exploration allows you to strike a balance between interacting with others and preserving your precious time alone.
5. Regroup in the quiet of nature
There’s powerful energy to be found in nature. During your travels, you’ll probably have a multitude of opportunities to spend quality time alone exploring beautiful beaches, calm forests, or majestic mountains. Take advantage of it. You’ll miss it when you return to the bustle and tedium of your hometown or city.
Meditation is a perfect activity for hiking or exploring nature. It’s a healthy way to recharge during your travels and doesn’t necessarily require intense focus.
Meditating in nature can be as simple as focussing on your senses and mindfully identifying what you hear, smell, and see. When your thoughts start to wander off, practise reeling them back to the present moment by drawing attention to the senses. Repeat as necessary.
6. Actively approach new people
Whether or not you like the idea of group tours, meeting new people is a key part of the travelling experience and will help you to break out of your shell. There are billions of people in the world; the odds of finding someone you get along with while travelling are actually quite high!
The more places you travel, the more interesting people you’ll meet. Don’t let shyness or hesitance keep you from meeting new people who could help change your life for the better.
One of the greatest things about travelling is the anonymity. If you don’t meet anyone or run into a less than favourable character, you’re always free to pack up, move on, and try again, with any negativities quickly left behind.
This fact can be all the fuel you need to approach a table full of strangers with “hello” (when it feels right!) and leave with new friends. I did this once in Vietnam and ended up meeting up with some of these new friends in other countries later during the same journey!
7. Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
As an introvert, there are times when you just need to block out the world and enjoy some solitude. This can be difficult while travelling, however. When you’re in noisy cities, you can easily feel drained from overstimulation and need a quick bit of relaxation. Noise-cancelling headphones can come to your rescue.
For under $100 (typically), a good pair can block out the rest of the world or just a loud hostel dorm for as long as you need. They often look very similar to a pair of high-quality headphones that people use for listening to music, so you’ll be able to blend right in. Just remember to stay alert if you’re using them in public.
8. Keep a journal
Journaling is a great way to regulate and process your emotions. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, writing can be a perfect release. Reading back through your journals will also help you to understand your emotional triggers and how to avoid them. The more you journal, the better you’ll be able to manage your fluctuating emotions.
A quick bullet-point note to remind you of a positive encounter or a place that had a profound effect on you is a way to preserve the moment for life.
These are just a few of many different tips that can help introverts tackle their solo travels across the world! Always take your journeys one day at a time, and remember to feel the fear, embrace it, and do whatever you’re afraid of anyway. Happy travels!
Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Privilege Club. A self-proclaimed introvert, she’s no stranger to travelling solo and managing her time and introspective energy on the go.