Introvert traveler needs tips for traveling alone

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The following was submitted by an introverted student who could use your advice for being an exchange student abroad:

I am an introvert with a hunger for travel, and I recently enrolled in a student exchange abroad. I am nervous about being in a strange place and meeting people in my host country. What are some techniques for an introvert travelling alone?

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36 Comments

  1. The travel bug is a great thing. It teaches you to be comfortable in so many unique environments. Once bitten, you won’t be shy – at least not for new cultures and gaining a diverse group of global friends.

    I generally travel alone and often wear a Canada Pin on my hat. It seems to be a conversation starter. If you are going to stay in any one location for an extended period of time try finding a community class that you can join to learn new skills and make new friends.

    A lot of my travel was before the Internet but I’m starting to travel again…I’m dying to try a few tools such as Meetup, Craigslist and Twitter (tweetups) to join any local activities that interest me.

    You would be surprised…when you are alone and traveling, other people are traveling too and they are looking for great company. It should just happen for you. Enjoy.
    simply stephen´s last post ..what to say to someone coping with depression

  2. I am an introvert who often travels abroad alone. I find that doing so actually makes me LESS of an introvert. Maybe it’s the exciting new environment or the need to put yourself out there in order to communicate but I suggest to take this chance to try and discover other sides of yourself.

  3. I use Couch Surfing site to arrange meetings with local people who want and wish to spend some time with me, showing me around the town or just meeting up for coffee or a drink. In that way I feel a bit less “touristy” and I learn about the true way of living in the city. And yes, I almost always travel alone. Good luck!

    • That is actually a very good idea, Ana. Couchsurfing hosts are very open and always willing to share tips and have a good time. I find that many introverts are only waiting for people to start a conversation to make them feel comfortbale and couchsurfing hosts are great at that.
      Plus, like you said, you’ll get to know the city the way locals know it. 🙂

  4. Travelling alone is enough to make you weird in some peoples eyes so its probably best to go with an organised group, this is not as bad as it sounds as it allows you to drop in and out of it when you want (this is easy to do as you are told at what times things will go on).
    danika´s last post ..Envirophone review

  5. Traveling alone and being an introvert will help you discover so many things you might not know about yourself.
    I once ended up playing the guitar with a group of street musicians at one of the most visited squares in Spain. 😀

  6. I guess traveling with an introvert behavior would be a bit risky, but the thing is you have to be ready all the time. You have to be open for all the possible things that might happen. Always be ready for the unexpected. But I guess it would be a great opportunity for an introvert to be alone. You will have so much time for yourself.

  7. I find travelling alone can be a bit of tricky business.

    Obviously you get to set your own schedule and do what you want, where you want, when you want, which is great, but one of my other favorite things about flying solo is the total anonymity. You could adjust your personality to that of more of an extrovert and nobody would know the difference or be able to judge you for it (“where did THIS come from?!”) like they would “at home”.

    However, given an introvert’s penchant for close friends and/or deep relationships, there are times (usually during long periods of boredom such as an airport) where I’ve found myself thinking “Man, it sure would be nice if I had person X with me right now.” Or, most recently for me, on a long public transit ride. It’s funny how you can be amongst a crowd of people and still feel completely alone.

    How do you deal with it…hard to say. I hate to say that all you need to do is stop thinking about it and focus on the aforementioned positive points, but sometimes that’s all there is to it.

    Hope you have fun!

  8. Scheduling is everything! Make it clear to the family you’re staying with and everyone else that you have a full agenda. You have to go see this and that while you’re there … then schedule like crazy. That way, you’ll always have a time that it’s “okay” in their eyes to get away. Then you can visit museums and restaurants and nature stuff by yourself, and it’s great! GREAT!
    The annoying part is when they constantly expect you to be with them and they are trying to please you and stuff. But if you have a very, very full schedule (in their eyes) after a while, they’ll get used to the fact that you’re always on the go and they’ll leave you alone.
    Then remember you can always remove some of the things from your “schedule” if you want to, but it’s a great safety net to keep you from getting stuck in an endless social situation.

  9. When traveling alone. I think you need all the stuff like a mobile phone and a map. Planning ahead also helps you save time and money. Since you’re an introvert asking some direction is not your thing so I recommend you bring another introvert traveler with you 🙂

  10. I find that traveling alone is a great experience for introverts, because it forces you into situations that you would have avoided otherwise. When you travel with a friend, you might be tempted to let them do the talking, etc, but when you’re alone you have to deal with certain things (which can be unpleasant at first), but when you actually realize that you are doing fine on your own, you get this amazing feeling of confidence and self-reliance. Good luck!

  11. I’ve backpacked all over the world by myself. I’ve never travelled with anyone for longer than a few days – and that’s only with another backpacker I’ve met along the way. It’s the way I prefer it. I love the short friendships I make along the way because I’m such a private person. Short friendships keep you fresh; they’re small snippets of life that you get to share with someone outside your natural environment. You don’t have to get into deep conversations (unless you’ve had a few drinks (: ).
    Okay enough about the love of backpacking.
    I think you’ll do fine as an introvert travelling overseas. If you’re a happy person and don’t mind discussing your interests people will be naturally drawn to you. _Also when you’re doing something exciting you get a light in your eyes (travelling is definitely exciting) and it’s like everyone catches onto the vibe. Then once you’ve settled down people will know you a little better and as long as you be yourself you’ll slip into a natural groove with the people around you.
    My warning is don’t, under any circumstances, compromise your morals and keep smart about situations. Be true to yourself. Just because you’re not in your own country or with people that know you, doesn’t mean you can flip out. If you start acting out or acting up you’ll regret it because people will expect that of you and from there it’s a downhill slide.
    Have Fun!

  12. I’ve traveled alone before, and it can be a drag after awhile. I don’t know how solo travelers manage to ‘meet’ so many people in such a short time. I’ve never been invited to someone’s house after just meeting them while traveling, or had people invite me for dinner later, ect. It sounds like the kind of shallow, empty calories kind of relating extroverts are known for, but I need more than that.

    My suggestion would be to start a travel blog, and maybe use a google map plugin to ‘chart’ your travel progress from one spot to another.

  13. I love travelling alone and spent a summer as a student travelling on BritRail through England, Scotland and Wales. Yes, there are times when you feel lonely –you see something amazing and there’s nobody to share it with. But if you’re an introvert, you know that feeling anyway. On the whole, I found it easier to meet people (they’re more comfortable talking to you alone than if you’re in a group) and I loved being able to set my own schedule. And I really think I experienced things more deeply when I didn’t have other people to distract me. For me, it was key to take a camera and a journal book (the old fashioned writing kind). That gives you a way to interact with the things you see and process what you’re feeling(instead of talking, talking, talking). And you’ve got to be really careful and think about safety all the time (especially if you’re female) — since you don’t have a travel buddy watching your back. I found myself in some sticky situations (got lost trying to find a hostel on foot in downtown Glasgow at night) but if you use extra common sense you’ll be fine.

  14. Let your family know your itinerary

    One of the first things a solo traveller should do to ensure safety while on holiday is to leave your itinerary with a friend or family member. Your airline information, hotel numbers, and journey information should be included.

    • “If not, can never go back home”?
      Um, we use ENGLISH on this blog. Unless you’re able to use it well enough
      so the readers can understand you, please bugg off, “Janie”.

      And introversion is not an “attitude”, but I guess that you’re too lazy to read the blog posts here to know (and a lack of English proficiency might have interfered with that).

  15. Is the question still actual? For the travel itself I couldn’t give you a recipe, but when you move somewhere else.. try to make it your new home. Things similar to what you are used at home, your hobbies will make you feel more comfortable. And as for the people in your environment – as soon as you realize they are as friendly as anyone else and as restricted.. you will do it, I’m sure.
    Good luck!
    Naida´s last post ..Key Stage 3 Trip to Namibia – Parents Evening

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