There's a common misconception that introverts are antisocial. In fact, being an introvert simply means that you get your energy from being alone – you might love seeing friends and going to parties, but you need to have some time to yourself to recharge your batteries.
This can mean solo travel is particularly rewarding for introverts: you can be as sociable as you like, always in the knowledge that you have control over your schedule. But going it alone can also be daunting, as you have nobody else to rely on and can all too easily get into the habit of not interacting with anyone else. Here are a few tips on how to avoid the pitfalls and get the most out of travelling alone.
If you want to spend two weeks camping in the wilderness and not seeing another soul, you can do that. If you want to live in the middle of a bustling, busy city for a while, you can do that too.
But you don’t have to stick to one or the other – there are plenty of cities, like London, within easy reach of countryside, meaning you can take a couple of days in the middle of your trip to recharge in the clean, quiet air before returning to the city.
Similarly, pitching a tent in the woods doesn’t mean you can’t also visit a nearby town, spend the night in a proper bed and enjoy food you can’t cook on a camping stove.
Do you need peace and quiet at the end of the day? Then trying to save cash by staying in a dorm is not going to pay off. Does the thought of being stuck in a confined space with the same people for hours give you hives? Then consider upgrading that long-distance train ticket, or even flying.
It may seem extravagant, but if the cost of not doing it is that you have no energy to enjoy the rest of your day, isn’t a little strategic spending worth it?
A big part of travelling is pushing your boundaries. It may feel comfortable to keep to yourself, but there are so many things to try when you’re in a new place that it would be a shame to miss out.
That said, you’re in control of what you do, and it’s important to listen to what your mind is telling you. Maybe you did plan on going to that one-day food festival, but if you wake up and can’t face the crowds, don’t give yourself a hard time. You have plenty of alternatives, and you can always go for something more low-key, or something you can leave if you need a bit of time to yourself.
Being on the road is a great way to meet different types of people and maybe even form lasting friendships – for introverts and extroverts. It pays to give a bit of thought, though, to what sort of interactions you find most sustaining.
Do you want to spend most of your time alone, and enjoy lots of fleeting interactions and opportunities to observe a different way of life? Then maybe you’d enjoy renting a private apartment or hotel room, meeting people organically as you go about your day in the knowledge that you have a quiet, private place to return to when you feel like it.
Or would you rather see fewer people, but forge a deeper connection with them? Then you may prefer a homestay or farm stay, which offers you a chance to see how people really live there and get to know someone a little better.
Although travelling is supposed to be all about having fun and learning new things, it can sometimes feel like you’re supposed to do things a certain way – go to the big sights, meet loads of new people, fill every minute with activities. But if you don’t want to do those things, you don’t need to.
Similarly, the image of “the solo traveller” can loom large – someone bold and independent, striking out alone and not afraid of any situation. But that image isn't always realistic; travelling alone can be stressful, as you have to take care of everything yourself. Do whatever you need to feel relaxed and confident.
If you’re more comfortable bringing a book to lunch when eating alone, then bring a book. If taking a lot of photos gives you a sense of purpose and encourages you to go places by yourself, then carry your camera.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not beholden to anyone – that’s one of the joys of travelling solo, introvert or not.