Your Guide to Surviving Solo Travel as an Introvert
posted on March 18, 2019 | by Sanhita Mukherjee
When you think of spring break, chances are, you think of intense beach parties, loud music and some pretty vivid cocktails. For many, this is the perfect idea of a relaxing vacation where you truly get to let your hair down and unwind. Unless you happen to be an introvert for whom wild parties are enjoyable only in small doses (and definitely not for a whole week!).
If you are someone who prefers solitary activities and meaningful interactions, your idea of relaxation is probably very different from what a typical spring break offers. But just because you want to avoid the noise and the crowds doesn’t mean you have to give up on the fun. Why not just pack a bag and head out somewhere warm all by yourself?
But solo travel also involves new places, new people and a whole lot of brand new experiences. So how do you keep the socializing and the adventures on the right side of comfortable, and ensure you come back refreshed? As an introvert who loves traveling, here are some things I do to make sure I enjoy myself on a vacation. Hope you find these tips useful too!
Avoid making decisions on the fly
While some people like going with the flow when it comes to their travel plans, this is not always an enjoyable experience for some introverts. If you’re anything like me, you’d want to be mentally prepared about things like where you’re going to be staying and what you are going to be doing on a particular day. Having a broad plan in place saves you the stress of needing to make snap decisions and frees up mental space. If you later get to know of a cool activity or a fantastic eatery recommended by locals, you can always tweak your plans to work them in.
Another flipside of being spontaneous is that you sometimes have to settle for options that you’re not necessarily comfortable with. For instance, though you may prefer your own room at a peaceful Airbnb, you may end up needing to crash at a noisy hotel and share your room with a bunch of strangers. Planning ahead will help you avoid situations like this, which can make a huge difference when you’re traveling solo.
Research and pre-book as much as you can
Imagine you’re in a country where you don’t speak the local language and you need to take a train from one city to another. Only, you don’t know anything about which route to take, whether you need to change trains, or even how much it would cost. Trying to figure all this out at the information desk and frantically pulling out a handful of unfamiliar currency (while the queue behind you gets restless) is an introverted person’s idea of a nightmare!
While you might want to meet new people on your travels, such interactions are not very meaningful. I’d much rather tackle logistical requirements like this online. Researching and pre-booking travel passes, entry tickets, and local tours helps you cut down on mundane, meaningless interactions and conserve energy for conversations that are actually fun.
Bonus: Booking tickets ahead of time may help you avoid the long queues at popular tourist attractions.
Figure out if the ‘must-visit’ places work for you
If you Google any popular tourist town, chances are, crowded beaches, loud clubs, buzzing markets and happening concerts would be listed as ‘must-visit’ attractions. For many introverts, spending hours in places like these might not seem like much of a vacation!
If that’s true for you, give these tourist traps a miss and create your own must-visit list based on your interests. Visit the museums, check out the ongoing art exhibitions, or look up the coolest antique stores in town. Instead of souvenirs, I usually buy a book from every new place I go to, so I make it a point to visit at least one bookstore. The best part of solo vacations is that you can even try out the things that might not be everybody’s cup of tea (hello, cheesy-but-fun ghost tour!).
Enjoy some me-time, the local way
When you’re traveling solo, I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to constantly have wild experiences or bond with the people you meet. While these can certainly make for fun memories, it’s also important to schedule in some me-time.
However, spending a whole evening in your room can make you feel like you’ve ‘wasted’ some of your precious holiday, even though that time helped you recharge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Find ways to enjoy me-time in a way that’s unique to the city you’re visiting. Take your journal down to the beach and catch the sunset, spend an evening at a quaint café reading your book, or simply pour yourself a glass of wine as you people-watch from the balcony of your gorgeous Airbnb.