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As an introvert, my life-long love affair with travel hasn’t always been easy. Being in a new place crowded with both tourists and locals can be terrifying. The good news is, this has never stopped me, and it doesn’t have to stop you either! Here are some things that I consider when planning my trips. They will help keep you happy, calm, and mentally healthy while travelling.
A huge cause of stress when travelling is trying to plan with someone who is your complete opposite. When your energy is gone and you need a break, you don’t want to feel obligated to someone who can keep going for hours. Traveling alone gives you complete freedom. Nervous about flying solo? The best part is, there are a surprising amount of safe places to travel alone. Consider looking into Canada, Iceland, Denmark, and Ireland, just to name a few.
…Or With A Like-Minded Friend
Maybe you’re not comfortable travelling alone. In this case, plan a trip with someone who enjoys moving at your preferred pace. My last big trip was a month-long adventure through Paris and Italy with my mother. She has chronic fatigue syndrome. And she knew that I didn’t want to have a jam-packed, breakneck pace trip, so it was a perfect situation for both of us. When either of us needed to take time to relax and recharge, it wasn’t a problem. And if one of us wanted to keep exploring, it wasn’t a big deal to spend a couple of hours alone. Because of this, the trip was so much more relaxing for me.
Plan Your Visits To Major Tourist Attractions Around Their Least Busy Times
Sometimes visiting a museum or tourist attraction at peak times is just way too intense. So I spend time before travelling reading about the places I want to visit. Are they quiet in the morning? Is there any evening during the week when they stay open late? Find out when your destination will be the calmest, and plan to go around that time. You’ll have a much more comfortable experience.
Pick A Destination With Sights And Scenery
Visiting popular places often means fighting crowds. After a while, I tend to find myself craving some breathing room and alone time. That’s why I look for destinations that have both interesting attractions, and beautiful scenery. When I’m tired of fighting the crowds in the main tourist areas, I will start taking side streets. I love wandering through quiet neighbourhoods that other tourists seem to hurry past. I love to take in the architecture, the locals, and the true culture of a place. The best way to find this is exploring what exists outside all the pandering and hordes of tourists. Since it’s so much less crowded, exploring helps me to relax and recharge.
Find Stores And Restaurants Off The Beaten Path
Shopping and dining in tourist-driven areas can be flat out stressful. People working there can spot a tourist from a mile away, and they can be straight up aggressive in their attempts to woo you. In Paris, a restaurant maitre’d actually held my mother’s arm until I yelled at him in French to let go. Hardly a peaceful way to spend your vacation. This is another reason why I like wandering away from the tourist-driven parts of town. It’s easy to find an authentic local restaurant where, quite frankly, they couldn’t care less if you’re a tourist. One night in Florence, my mom and I found a hidden away spot on a side street with a super cheap set menu. The food was delicious, the servers weren’t pushy, and we watched football with the locals. It was probably the best night of our whole trip, and completely stress-free.
Rent A Cheap Apartment Vs. A Hostel
As an introvert, the thought of sharing a small space with strangers can be daunting. That’s why I stake out sites like Airbnb or VRBO for affordable rentals. You can find nice spots for good prices, without having to sacrifice your personal space. That way you have a quiet place to recharge, and cook for yourself if you’re not feeling up to being out in public.
Don’t Overschedule Yourself
Every introvert knows that it’s easy to make plans on a good day. But then on the day of, you barely feel comfortable leaving the house. That’s why when I plan my trips, I use this rule: plan one major thing each day. Then let the rest of the day fall into place around that plan. Visiting Paris? Plan to visit the Louvre one day, Notre Dame another day. Spend the rest of your time exploring those areas, or whatever feels right to you to do. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to do both on the same day, that’s great! But if not, you’re not pressured to feel like you have to squeeze it all in.
Bring Items That Quiet Your Mind In Busy Places
I never travel without a journal. I meticulously document every little thing that happens in every day while I’m travelling. Not only does it help keep my memories for a lifetime, but it helps center me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. If I’m not journaling, I’ll have a book or my kindle handy. Depending on where I am, I’ll also put on headphones and blast my favourite music. My best asset for travelling as an introvert is having a way to center yourself when you feel in over your head.
Travel is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Seeing new places and learning about new cultures can become addicting. Even as an introvert, putting myself in unfamiliar places is thrilling. There are lots of ways to make the stress of travelling easier on yourself. So get out there and explore!