Do you know how to maximize travel as an introvert?
Recently, I was interviewed by the National Education Association about my book, Introversion in the Classroom. While I mainly focus on working with introverted educators and entrepreneurs, the interview got me thinking about all of the different ways introversion has impacted my life.
Of course, this includes travel, which is a huge passion of mine.
How to travel as an introvert (without burning out)
Introverted traveling is not much different from other introverted activities. Whether you’re alone or with others, you’re likely going to face a lot of external stimulation.
Some of this stimulation may be social while some could be environmental. For some introverts, simply being around large groups of people can be just as exhausting as interacting with them. Throw in loud noises and bright lights and it can be a recipe for burnout.
Here are five steps you can take to make sure you’re making the most of your travel experiences:
It is so important to know your own limitations and set boundaries for yourself. If you know that three solid days of running from busy museum to busy museum will exhaust you, take that into consideration when creating your schedule.
I know, for example, that after a day in a busy city I’ll want to spend a day exploring the quieter countryside. I also know that big tour buses are not for me. I much prefer smaller tours with no more than a single busload of individuals.
Your travels should work to maximize positive experiences, and you can’t enjoy yourself if you’re totally burnt out. Think about your limits in day-to-day life and apply them to your trip.
Set small, attainable goals
It can be easy to overwhelm yourself with everything you want to do while traveling. That said, start small. Make your objectives obtainable, with just a little bit of a stretch (if you’re feeling it), and you’ll feel much better about yourself.
Maybe you’re staying at a busy hostel and tempted to hide behind headphones and a book. Challenge yourself to speak to one stranger. Take your book to the common area. Ask a question.
Small, obtainable goals that aren’t super scary will help you enjoy your trip without burning out.
For example, when I went to the TBEX conference last October I was completely intimidated by the idea of networking. Instead of booking my entire hour solid, I opted to meet with two or three different companies that really resonated with me. I spent the rest of the hour working quietly in a corner.
This was great for me because it allowed me to try something that was challenging while still respecting my need for alone time.
Know when to say “no”
Remember those boundaries you set? Stick to them!
Don’t let your travel companions or preset ideas determine your plans. If you need to slow down, then slow down. Let yourself relax. Put your foot down and suggest an alternative option that won’t end with you completely exhausted.
It can be hard to say no sometimes, especially if you want to make others happy. I get it. I hate letting other people down.
But you know what’s worse? Burning out and no longer enjoying your trip. No one likes feeling irritable and tired when they’re supposed to be enjoying themselves.
You set boundaries for a reason. Do yourself a favor and stick to them.
Find a confidante
It may seem counterintuitive for me to suggest an introvert find someone to confide in, but it can make a huge difference. Besides, being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re a social recluse. There are many social introverts who love interacting with others — they just burn out more quickly.
The ability to let off steam with someone you trust is incredibly valuable. These are the people you can vent to, dive into deep conversations with, and generally use as a low-stress sounding board.
This is one of the many reasons I love traveling with Tara, despite being an introvert. I know that she truly understands my needs and will be happy to listen if I’m becoming overwhelmed.
Even if you’re traveling solo, this is a good idea. Your confidante may be thousands of miles away, but thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever to connect. If you’re unable to stay in close contact, create your own confidante in the form of a journal. Having a place to write out what’s going on in your head can be incredibly cathartic.
Schedule in time to recharge
The entire purpose of setting boundaries and learning to say “no” is to allow yourself more time to recharge.
For me, this involves a good book and a cup of tea in the quiet of my hotel room or the back corner of a cafe. Sometimes it is a day hike through the wilderness, leaving the bustle of the city behind for open landscapes.
Think about when you feel most energized and do what you can to recreate that setting or routine. Whenever you become overwhelmed, this is where you want to end up. This is your opportunity to recharge. Treat it like the sanctuary it is.
If you do get overwhelmed and there’s nowhere to go, that’s okay. Don’t panic. Find a bathroom to hide in or simply close your eyes for a moment. Breathe deeply. Just a minute or two of deep breathing can do wonders for your stress levels.
Remember, your introversion is a gift
Introverts and extroverts see the world through different eyes. Neither is better than the other, and both have much to offer. When you begin to understand what energizes you and what exhausts you, you’re able to incorporate that into different aspects of your life — including travel.
Understanding your nature means that you can create a richer travel experience for yourself. Rather than anticipating burnout, you can be proactive about the environments you place yourself in. Ultimately, you are in control of what you do and how you approach your travels.
Are you an introvert? Consider joining The Adaptive Introvert, a Facebook community of fellow introverts!