8 Truths About Traveling as an Introvert

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This may come as a surprise to anyone who hasn't met me in real life, because of course it's easy to scan through my blog posts and imagine me to be a certain way – people have used words like “adventurous,” “outgoing,” and even “brave” to describe the me on the computer screen.

But the reality is that, while I *can* be all of those things, I'm actually an introvert at heart.

I'm not necessarily shy (that's a common misconception about introverts!), but I'm also not going to be the first one to strike up a conversation or suggest going to a party. Like most introverted people, I prefer small groups to large gatherings; I can be quiet if I don't have anything to say; and I need alone time every day in order to decompress.

Me at Lake Louise
Alone. Just how I sometimes like it!

This might not sound like a person who would also go gallivanting around the globe, but, believe it or not, there are a LOT of introverted travelers (and even travel bloggers!) out there.

And so, in order to connect more with my people and show you that introverts can totally conquer the world, too, I've decided to dish on the realities of traveling as an introvert.

8 truths about traveling as an introvert

If you, too, are an introvert and are worried about traveling as one, here are some things you might experience while on the road. (I'm not trying to scare you off; just being honest about how I experience a travel-filled life as an introverted person!)

1. You'll stress out over the most random things

This may not be true of all introverts, but it's definitely true for me – really random things stress me out and give me anxiety while traveling. Things like asking for directions (especially in another language), getting up the nerve to walk into a restaurant alone and ask for a table for one, being thrust into social situations by new travel friends… They're all small and silly, but be prepared for the most random things to stress you out when you're traveling as an introvert.

Too many options gives me anxiety, too. For example, when I was in Seville for the first time, I decided I would go out for dinner one night. I wanted to go somewhere for tapas. But there were SO. MANY. PLACES. First, I got anxious about finding a good place to eat when there were so many to choose from. Then I got myself all worked up about going inside alone and trying to order off a menu I could only half-read.

Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain
Seville sure is pretty

I ended up walking around for an hour, and then giving up – I had a gourmet burger in my hotel room that night instead.

Overload like this – whether it's sensory or social or a mix of both – is a real thing that we introverts struggle with while traveling.

But you know what? That burger was one of the best burgers I had that whole year. #noregrets

RELATED: It’s Okay to Feel These (Negative) Things When You Travel

2. People will drive you nuts (sometimes)

I began my traveling career as a backpacker. I spent two summers backpacking around Europe, traveling on backpacker buses and budget airlines and staying in hostels. This forced me into socializing a lot more than I probably would have at home – often with people that I honestly probably would have avoided in my everyday life.

There were the all-night partiers that come bumbling back into the hostel dorm room at 5 a.m. to make more noise than you would think humanly possible. There were the twenty-something travelers more intent on scoring drugs than getting to know a new culture. There were the travelers who were loud and rude and inconsiderate of the fact that I just wanted to check my email and go to bed early sometimes.

And, quite frequently, these same people who drove me nuts would call me a party pooper when I didn't want to get drunk or hang out with lots of other drunk people until all hours of the morning.

Reykjavik, Iceland
I'm a night owl – but the kind who likes to stay up late at home in pajamas.

Not everyone will GET that you need to have some “alone time” each night, or if you're not much of a partier and/or feel really uncomfortable in large, rowdy groups. This really bothered me when I first started traveling, but I eventually realized it wasn't worth stressing out over what other people thought of me.

Do your thing. If it aligns with what others around you want to do, too, cool. And if not, that's also okay.

3. Some days you'll have to force yourself to be social 

As an introvert, you won't be predisposed to forcing yourself to socialize (or, in my case, giving in to peer pressure to socialize from others). I know this. In fact, you may start brainstorming elaborate reasons why you CAN'T join in on certain activities. I've been there; I've done it.

But, if I've learned anything about pushing myself, it's that forcing yourself to be social can sometimes be exactly what you need. I'm not saying you have to force yourself to do something you're entirely uncomfortable with – but convincing yourself to be slightly more outgoing than you would normally be can really enhance your travel experience.

Some days, you'll have to force yourself to be social. This could be as simple as going on a free walking tour with a group of other travelers instead of wandering around on your own, or could be as intense as agreeing to go on a rafting pub crawl with people you just met on a bus.

Cesky Krumlov
Post-rafting in Cesky Krumlov

There are many days when I wake up on the road convinced that I don't want to talk to a soul that day. But then I force myself to be a little bit social, and I end up having a much better time than I would have had on my own. (You know, as long as I can curl up alone in bed with my laptop afterwards…)

4. You'll meet others like you

When I first started traveling (on that backpacker trail, remember), I would DREAD meeting new people in hostels because I assumed that they all would only be interested in partying. I was under the incorrect assumption that I was always destined to be the odd one out.

This, of course, could not be further from the truth.

I mean, yes, I DID meet plenty of backpackers who only wanted to party. But I also met plenty of other travelers just like me – introverts trying to figure out where they fit in to the travel landscape.

I remember being really apprehensive about doing a guided trip with Busabout during my backpacking days. I knew I'd be traveling on a large bus with lots of other young travelers, and I was terrified that I wouldn't fit in with any of them. Thankfully, though, I immediately hit it off with three Australian girls – one traveling solo and the other two traveling together – who shared my preference for beach days and sightseeing over all-night parties. We had so much fun together that they didn't really even have to try hard to convince me into having one big night out at a treehouse club in Montenegro.

Us on our one night out

This has been a recurring theme on my travels. No matter how much I stress out over not being able to meet people due to my introverted ways, I always end up connecting with a small group of fellow travelers. And it's often those beautiful people who turn up in my fondest travel memories.

5. Slow or solo travel might be a good fit for you

Even though backpacking wasn't as traumatizing as I originally feared it would be, I realized after a while that it just wasn't my ideal style of travel. Moving around so frequently and sharing my bedroom with so many strangers caused me a lot of unneeded stress. I got sick frequently, and the anxiety that has plagued me on and off since high school would often creep up the night before I had to navigate another airport or train station or set of bus schedules.

For many introverts, slower travel – i.e. staying in one place longer than just a couple of nights – is easier to adjust to than what I like to call “FOMO-style travel” (i.e. rushing around to see as much as you possibly can). It's less stressful and lets you get to know destinations at a slower pace, on your own terms. If it takes you a few days to get comfortable talking to strangers or branching out from the area where you're staying, traveling slower is a natural choice.

I think it's also safe to say that solo travel might be a better fit for many introverted travelers. While I DO like to travel in small groups or with my husband every now and then, solo travel gives you all the freedom you need to travel in the way that works best for you.

Amanda from A Dangerous Business Travel Blog

When I'm traveling alone and I hit a travel day where I don't want to force myself to be social, I simply don't have to. I can enjoy my own company for the entire day, doing what I want when I want to do it.

And, on the other hand, if you've had enough alone time and want to be more social, you're much more approachable as a solo traveler – don't be surprised when strangers just start talking to you in public!

RELATED: Why I'm Not Afraid to Travel Alone

6. You'll find ways to adapt that work for you

There's no “one size fits all” style of travel for us introverts. What works for me might not work for you. But, ultimately, you'll find ways to adapt and mold your travel style into whatever suits you best.

You might find that renting apartments instead of staying in hostels or hotels gives you the relaxing space you need to recharge at night. You might find that wearing headphones in public is effective when you're in a non-social mood. You may find that taking a Kindle with you to dinner helps combat the stress/awkwardness of eating alone when you're traveling solo. (I've gotten much more comfortable with this over the years.)

Whatever your tricks are, you'll figure them out by simple trial and error and will eventually settle into the perfect travel style for YOU.

Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

7. You may not ever come “out of your shell” – and that's totally fine

A lot of people talk about the transformative power of travel; about how it changed their lives and brought them “out of their shell.”

Sure, it's possible that travel may transform your life and help you shed some of your introverted ways. But, then again, it may not. And that's okay, too! Being an introvert isn't a BAD thing, and certainly doesn't mean that you can't have an awesome and fulfilling travel experience.

Despite how it might come across on this blog, I'm no less introverted today than I was when I first started traveling years ago. I still stress out on travel days. I still have days where I don't want to be social. I still need time and space to decompress (alone) after a long day.

But that's just who I am, and who I will always be. And I've come to accept and even embrace that.

White Sands National Monument

8. You can absolutely still travel as an introvert

If you take anything away from this post, I hope it will be that you can still travel – AND have an awesome time – as a more introverted person. You aren't destined to always be the odd one out; there will be people to connect with should you want to.

And, at the end of the day, traveling in any way, shape, or form is SO much better than not traveling at all. So don't let your introvertedness hold you back.

Are you an introverted traveler, too? Share your story in the comments below!

Truths about traveling as an introvert

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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113 Comments on “8 Truths About Traveling as an Introvert

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  1. I love this! It is just crazy how I could relate to everything that is written. I thought I was the only one. I sometimes feel a little bit of the pressure when people feel like everyone has to be outgoing, and they think that you are boring. I like being alone once in a while, thanks for saying it is okay to be this way 🙂

      It’s absolutely okay to be that way, Hani, and a lot of travelers actually are!

    Oh lordy, yes. I am an odd combo of introvert and not shy. I can easily talk to strangers but to take it to the next level, say go for coffee or such, I bomb.
    The worst introvert solo travel moment for me was in Chiang Mai. Usually I eat dinner early and go home to read or putter on the computer but I stayed out longer than I meant to and got really hungry. But we were clearly into the couples segment of the day plus there were so many choices. It was awful, I just couldn’t land anywhere. In desperation I just picked one and made myself go in and order food. Just to make the evening complete I got to sit and listen to a table full of middle aged white boys talking about the best way to get young Thai hookers. There was no happy hamburger waiting at the end of this story LOL. Always nice to hear from a fellow introvert.

      Well hey, at least you didn’t get invited to go out and look for Thai hookers! 😉

    Thanks for such a refreshing post Amanda!! (by the number of comments I can see others agree too.)
    I’ve battled with anxiety for years, especially in the last 12months. I;ve finally gotten up the courage to book the RTW tour I’ve always dreamed about.
    For me doing things and eating alone are fine, but I HATE planes and navigating airports/train stations. Unfortunately coming from New Zealand means a LOT of air time I will have to deal with.
    Hearing that others feel the way I do about going it solo is so reassuring, and gives me the confidence to know I really can do it!.

      You definitely can do it, Sophie! Plus, I think navigating transport is something that gets easier over time – the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get!

    I feel myself when I read your blog. I always travel alone, and people around me start asking why, why, and why? And other people start judged me like I’m anti social or something, but I really don’t care. I need me time, and I really don’t want to force myself to be social. I don’t care, this is me, this my life and this is what I want to be.

      Good for you – don’t ever let other people try to force you to be different. Because you are who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂

    Always nice to be reminded I’m not the only person who is introverted (and on the shy end of the introvert spectrum) that can get stressed at “the little things” that some people just don’t get. Been working myself up to do some solo traveling since my fellow introvert traveling buddy now has a work schedule that doesn’t allow traveling together any more…
    You’ve just let me put another check in the “You Can Do This” column. 🙂

      You definitely can do it, Paul!

    Wow, so many comments from fellow introverts here!
    I need a lot of alone time too, to recharge, however you’d never know I was an introvert 🙂
    I travel quite often and almost always alone, and I love it. The few group tours and activities that I joined I liked a lot, but most of the time I wander around on my own. Being the solo traveller in groups has its merits too: you get to ride shotgun and often the guide will bond/talk more with you than the other couples or groups of friends.
    2 things that add to the impression that I’d be really outgoing:
    A) I talk a lot when I want/need to – I live alone, so when I meet my friends and family I have a lot of things to tell. I need this, the cat just isn’t as good a listener 😀 As soon as I’m out of stories I go very quiet again.
    B) I’m a Zumba Fitness instructor… Go figure. Introverted girl in front of a bunch of people making weird movements. It’s a bit like playing a role, but I love it. I do need my down time though, I would not be able to stand a lifestyle where I need to be outgoing and fun and smiling all the time (as you should be as an instructor imo).

      Sounds like you’re a unique breed of introvert! 😉

    As an American soldier stationed in Germany, I would sometimes tire of being around my fellow fluent English speakers, and wander off to strike up conversations in my broken German (or what I knew of Spanish or Italian when I met guest workers from southern Europe. There seemed to be something non-stressful about having a simple conversation a language in which I COULDN’T go into a great deal of detail.

      Interesting! I’m not sure, but I think that would stress me out! Very cool that it didn’t for you though.

    Thanks for the post. As an introverted traveler I am glad to know there are others out here too. I love traveling solo because it allows me to explore my love of balconies. I can be in a foreign city and still have my own space. It is perfection.

      LOTS of others out there. 🙂

    I am an introvert who traveled solo for the first time this year. The idea of moving around a lot did not appeal to me, so I spent 9 days in Budapest getting to know the city. It took me three days of stressing about things I typically don’t even think about on a daily basis – eating, speaking, transportation, using currency – before I started to feel comfortable. I think if I had been changing cities every two days or so, I would have been miserable the entire time. One of the best things I did on my vacation was take a cooking class. It was taught by a local person and our group just had 4 people (including myself) so it wasn’t overwhelming. It was a good way to meet people and have good conversation while doing a common activity. I actually plan on returning to Budapest this year for another 10 days. People have asked me why I would return after spending so much time there already, but I move at a slower pace when I travel so there are things I didn’t get to see the first time around.

      It’s great that you recognized that and let yourself take it slow! Glad to hear you enjoyed it – Budapest is one of my favorite cities in Europe!

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve started identifying myself as an introvert not too long ago when I went on an exchange to Alaska last year. I definitely prefered exploring my town alone as opposed to with a group of people (especially if they were locals who didn’t feel quite as adventurous as me ), and I always thought I was really weird because of that, but that’s the way I liked it, so I finally came to terms with it. The only thing I disliked about it is the fact I didn’t have anyone to take photos of me in front of the town’s landmarks, and I always felt too anxious and awkward to ask any of the other tourists. Do you feel the same way sometimes? If so, do you have any tips to help me feel less awkward about it?
    Thank you again for this amazing post!

      You certainly are not weird! And as you can see from the comments on this post, you aren’t alone, either!

      As for the photo thing, I definitely understand. Sometimes you just have to pluck up the courage to ask someone! Another alternative would be to travel with a tripod so you could use the self-timer on your camera, but that can get annoying. Maybe a selfie stick? 😉

    Hi Amanda,
    That was a really great blog and it was inspirational and so relatable to me.
    I never really thought that my behaviour was because i was an introvert but now it makes sense and its so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one!
    Being an introvert doesnt mean that youre boring and always unsociable..its just more about having the right company and I definitely agree about the smaller groups and parties!

    Thank you for writing this blog!

      “Being an introvert doesnt mean that youre boring and always unsociable” – YES. This is so true.

    Very interesting read. I never felt anxiety in my life, but after reading this I wonder if I am an introvert after all. I prefer small groups to large ones and enjoy doing what i want to do as opposed to following. Yet i have no issues/stress with daily things.
    wonderful article Amanda, thank you for voicing this.
    I emailed you just now as well with some questions, would be lovely to hear from you!


      There’s definitely a scale when it comes to introversion. And not all introverts suffer from anxiety, either!

    I can totally relate to your post! Even in my home country I have for example difficulties to go alone to restaurants etc. Often if restaurant is too full I hesitate before I enter (If enter) to the restaurant or any place which are full of people. While traveling sometimes it is even more difficult but then I try to think that I won’t meet those people again so it doesn’t matter altough I would make some mistakes. But then traveling as an introvert is great too. You are able to enjoy of your time alone, do things you really love to doing, make changes for your plans without you have to think of other people. You can spend as much time as you want in shops or looking delicious sweets or things like that. 🙂

      Yes, it’s always good to remind yourself that you can be whoever you want when you travel because you likely won’t ever see the people you meet again! It can be quite liberating in a way.

    I feel like full-time travel has made me MORE on an introvert than I used to be! I think because meeting new people and having new experiences has become the norm for me I now crave and appreciate my “quiet and alone” time more than I did before.

      That makes sense, in a way. Plus, always meeting new people can really wear you out!

    I can relate to a lot of this Amanda! And funny thing is, I’d consider myself pretty outgoing — but one of my biggest struggles is actually meeting new people while traveling. Some people can walk into a hostel kitchen and be like “WHAT’S UP PEOPLE!” but actually making the first move to talk to someone I don’t know or ask for directions terrifies me. On occasion I’ve beaten this, but most of the time it gives me a lot of stress. And then after the stress of whether or not to, you stress about the fact that you didn’t. So strange. But like you, I’ve been trying to force myself to go out and meet people. Great read and perspective as always!

      I know, this stresses me out, too!! I’ve gotten a little better at it over the years, but it’s still a challenge when I travel alone!

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