Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tips for Traveling Introverts

I love traveling. I just came back from a two-week road trip. I spent a year traveling around the country doing drama at churches. I've trekked enough across the U.S. that now, the only two states I haven't visited are Alaska and Hawaii.

But traveling can be extremely draining for an introvert.

I am definitely on the "oh so very introverted" end of the continuum, so as much as I love going around and visiting new places, it's easy for me to get tired out quickly. Here are a few of the tips I've learned over the years about how to travel and stay sane as an introvert.

1. Choose your traveling companions wisely.

Traveling with just one or two people is easier for introverts than with a large group, so as much as you think you might love having a huge road trip with seven or eight good friends, it'll get overwhelming much more quickly than if you just bring along a couple. Also, traveling with people you don't know well can be tough. It's hard to relax when you're constantly around acquaintances rather than good friends. If you're the one planning a trip, plan your companions carefully. You don't want to burn out halfway through because you're surrounded by too many people. And don't discount the idea of traveling by yourself, either. I've done that before and it's super fun and flexible and if you want to make friends along the way, you can, and if you don't, you don't have to.

2. Budget extra money for introvert escapes.

Specifically, I'm talking hotels. A lot of the times when I've traveled, we've saved traveling money by crashing with friends around the country. It's definitely cheaper (you can usually get a meal or two and a place to stay out of that), and it is awesome to visit with old friends, but it can also be exhausting spending time with someone new every single night. For me, a safe ratio is spending one out of every 3-4 nights in a hotel. It gives you a chance to recuperate so that you'll be ready to socialize again the next day. (If you like camping, that's a cheaper way to get some social recovery time. I hate camping so that's not really an option for me, hehe.)

3. Don't plan too many outings -- or be ready to drop out.

There's a tendency to want to do and see everything when you're spending time in a city, but don't overextend yourself. I frequently find that after a few hours of sightseeing, I'm done for the day. Sometimes I have extra energy and can do more things, but sometimes that's all I've got in me. This means you should avoid buying multiple tickets ahead of time, thus committing yourself to spending a full day doing tourist activities. I generally try to set in stone no more than one thing per day -- with other flexible activities that I can join or not join as I wish. Keep your schedule as flexible as possible to accommodate your social energy, and you'll be able to really enjoy all the things you do choose to participate in.

4. Feel free to go do things on your own.

You really don't have to sightsee as a group. If your whole group is hanging out for the day in a city (especially if it has good public transportation), you can always get some quiet time by saying, "Hey, I'm going to go check out this museum and then do some shopping, but I'll meet up with you guys for dinner." That is perfectly OK. If you're somewhere that doesn't have public transport, you can always look up a cool place en route to where they're going to be spending their time and request that they drop you off and pick you up there. This lets you be touristy while still enjoying some introversion time.

5. Take advantage of the travel time itself.

You can get some great to-yourself time in a car, a plane, or a bus. Just have an MP3 player ready with your favorite music and a Kindle ready with some good books, and you can spend the whole travel time charging your solitude meter. Then when you arrive at your destination, you're full of energy and ready to go have some fun.

What do you guys think? Any other good introvert traveling tips? What is your favorite travel destination?

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