What sort of person prefers to travel alone?
Many assume it’s the quintessential extrovert: outgoing, thrill-seeking, and teeming with energy. After a busy day of sightseeing, they’re ready to hit up the most popular bars at night. They thrive off of constant socializing, connecting with strangers, and creating shared experiences. Even in new groups and environments, they’re easily the life of the party.
Solo travel isn’t just for extroverts, though. In fact, one of its most attractive elements is the freedom to set your own itinerary and pace. Introverts might require time on their own to recharge, but that doesn’t mean they’re reserved or shy to globetrotting adventures. Instead, their travel style simply relies less on companionship and more on absorbing new cultures and ways of life.
Traveling alone can present unique challenges for anyone. If you lean more on the introverted side, here are some tactics to help you feel more comfortable, confident, and energized on your next solo trip.
Strategically book your accommodations.
Think about the types of interactions you enjoy most. Do you prefer playing wallflower and people-watching from afar? Or do you opt for deep, one-on-one connections spread throughout the day? If you’re already anxious about securing alone time, then sure, a secluded hotel room or private campground might be your best bet. But don’t limit yourself to the most isolating options.
If you plan to spend most of your days exploring alone and need some social outlet, homestays and hostels are great (and affordable) alternatives. Staying with a family will give you an insider’s guide to the area and will allow you to form more intimate relationships. Despite their rowdy reputation, many hostels cater to travelers of all ages (backpackers or not), enforce nightly quiet hours, and offer private rooms. They also attract more solo travelers instead of honeymooners and families, so it’s easier to make friends in communal spaces and during mealtimes. Invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones just in case, and you’re good to go.
Opt for day tours over extended group trips.
Group activities, such as walking tours, cooking classes, and pub crawls, are great opportunities to mingle as an introverted solo traveler. While socializing isn’t required, you’re already united by a common interest with the people around you. It’s the perfect chance to practice your small-talk skills with little to no commitment or stress. If you hit it off, perfect! If not, you never have to see those people again.
For that reason, be wary of week-long trips with large groups. There’s typically not a lot of wiggle room in your day-to-day schedule, so pockets of alone time will be few and far between (if not altogether impossible).
Keep a good book or journal on hand.
There are other ways to explore and process your travel experiences than through conversation. During an unaccompanied cafe lunch or a cross-country train ride, a good book to read can be an introvert’s most ideal companion. Better yet, find some reading material on your current destination to further engage with your new environment.
Journaling can also be a wonderful way to understand and capture your internal experience. Be sure to jot down positive encounters or places that have a profound effect on you as a way to preserve those memories for life.
Explore outside your comfort zone.
Solo travel is often a character-building experience. So while you should embrace your true nature, it doesn’t hurt to challenge your old habits and assumptions, either. Be open to try out new activities and meet as many people as possible. For introverts, that could be as simple as:
- Carrying a list of conversation starters for quick reference when you need it
- Taking a class to better learn the local language
- Sharing or joining a community table at a restaurant
- Going to a concert, sporting event, or bar to meet fellow fans
- Attending a local meetup through Couchsurfing or Meetup.com
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, there isn’t one “right” way to solo travel. You have total freedom to do what makes you happy! Seek out what sounds the most fun to you, and you’ll quickly realize that solo travel doesn’t cater to one personality type. Any trip is worthwhile when you make it your own.
Be sure you’re equipped with the right travel documents for your next solo trip, wherever it is. Swift Passport & Visa Services can help you replace or renew your passport in as little as one business day.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.