When thinking about adventure, extraverts and introverts are not an even playing field—but these labels shouldn’t hold you back.
One group is known for parties until sunrise and talking to every person in the room. The other, for cozy Aran jumpers and weeks of recovery after socialising. But these personality types, created by psychiatrist Carl Jung, are not binding—and they shouldn’t stop you from travelling.
With some of my best friends living across the sea, I got used to travelling as an introvert quickly. I learned to navigate public transport, ask for help from staff and strangers when I needed it and, most importantly, recognise my limits. I learned how to spot when I was running on empty, and how to take a step back.
Dr. Jennifer Kahnweiler believes that introverted people have a “battery they recharge” while alone. This can make travelling, which is spontaneous and unsettled, seem daunting. But there are ways to mind yourself while making your trip one to remember, and these tips will help you to make the most of your introverted journeys.
1. Know yourself. Plan accommodation to suit.
Hostels are great. They’re cheap and handy, great for backpacking or interrailing on a budget, and allow you to get out there and explore. They are often well-kept and secure, and can form friendships that last a lifetime.
But hostels are a hard bargain for many introverts, often with bunks and shared spaces. Some introverts need the privacy and solitary comfort that hostels might not provide—while others might want to challenge themselves with a shared bedroom.
When travelling, make sure you know what accommodation situation helps you to recharge. It’s up to you what makes you comfortable—did you share with siblings growing up, for example, or do you need silence and lights out at bedtime? Make the decision that your budget allows and that readies you for the day ahead. Speaking of which:
2. Plan for off-days.
Introvert to introvert, this can nearly be left unsaid. A single day of action is draining, and the last thing we need is a five-day streak of sight-seeing and socialising. It’s easy to burn out—so plan for gaps in your travels.
A gap doesn’t have to be a waste of your travel days either. There will be countless sights to see, from street markets to landmarks, if you’re hoping to get out into the world in a quieter way. Recharging doesn’t necessarily mean hiding away in your accommodation. You can just as easily lounge in a café with a book and a local dessert.
Sometimes you will need to sleep the day away, while others some alone time is all you will need. Either way, plan for downtime, and plan to make the most of it.
3. Find somewhere to stay with fun down the road.
If you’re looking to preserve your energy, find accommodation with attractions nearby. Keeping points of interest a train away keeps you close to your home base and avoids the pressures of a cross-country skydiving adventure.
As an introvert, you might already be focusing on accommodation in more remote areas. Bustling cities can be fun—but not when you can’t step away! Local events can be just as memorable as the busier ones. Nearby galleries, museums and festivals can keep you going on your off-days before you brave tourist attractions with a full battery.
Being comfortable in your accommodation is important—but don’t let it hold you back. So much can happen outside of tourist traps and every moment, big or small, is a worthwhile experience.
4. Group tours might be your best friend.
I know, I know. Group tours? Being carted around on another person’s schedule, huddled with strangers, with no control over your downtime? On paper, it’s nightmarish—but, as an introvert, group tours are perfect for me.
An itinerary tells me where I’m going in advance, and when. I can charge my battery accordingly and get ready for the day. I will see the sights I might have missed on my own. A guide will introduce me to the most interesting places and expect little in return apart from my interest.
You might start chatting with a stranger and form an instant connection on the tour too. If not, that’s okay—this isn’t a meet-and-greet! Friendship isn’t the focus, but can be a huge bonus. You can experience the locality and meet new people along the way, and all you have to do is show up.
When in Portugal, guided tours provided me with amazing experiences I never would have known about. From an off-road truck, our tour guide educated us on the history of the Algarve. We saw the world from the tops of hills, splashed around in rivers, learned about the local animals and plants, and even tasted local spirits: Aguardente de Medronhos, or ‘firewater’. That helped charge my battery, for sure!
So many of these tips come back to one thing: expanding your comfort zone. It can be scary, but travelling is all about new environments and making new memories. If you shy away from once-in-a-lifetime experiences, who knows what you’ll miss?
Try and challenge yourself once a day. This could mean anything: asking a stranger for directions, ordering a coffee in the local language, or being a bit spontaneous with your plans. It’s up to you.
Comfort is important when travelling—but you shouldn’t hide away. It’s the perfect time to shrug off your old coat and, when you feel ready, say yes to something new. Don’t let introversion waste your time. Know your limits, but know when to break them too!
Travelling as an introvert is about balancing activity and time to rest. It’s tricky, and it can sometimes feel like more trouble than it’s worth. But travel is something that everyone should experience, whether you’re a party animal or a lone wolf. Keeping these tips in mind, you can plan a trip that suits your introverted personality and make memories that will last a lifetime.