Ahh, summertime travel…a great opportunity to decompress, have fun, recharge. Very true. But, we can also find ourselves in situations that challenge our introverted nature. Both Stephen and I recently returned from trips, he from Miami, and I from Paris.
My “introverted moment” surfaced at Disneyland Paris. A parade was about to start, and Robbie (the hubby) and I were staking out our spot near the front. The immediate area around us was already crowded, but I remained optimistic that it wouldn’t get any worse. Those hopes were quickly dashed as a few more people tried at the last minute to
muscle their way in and create space for themselves where no space existed. This proved to be the tipping point where a borderline tolerable situation became completely unbearable. Introverts in general tend not to like crowds, and I’m no exception. But when it turns into a violation of personal space, it’s time for me to retreat. I did what I needed to do to honor my inner introvert, removing myself from the situation and finding a much less crowded, much less hectic spot to stand way in the back. Robbie, an extrovert by the way, completely understood and no explanation was necessary on my part. As soon as I relocated, I could feel my anxiety level instantly drop, and it helped set a positive tone for the rest of the day at Disney. We had a conversation afterward about differences in cultures where some may find it acceptable and normal to behave as they did in a crowd of people, but the most important thing for me was recognizing a negative, “anti-introvert” situation and taking the necessary steps to remedy it.
For those of us who have been lucky enough to visit Miami, we know that it is a vibrant, loud, and energetic city filled with all kinds of people and an interesting nightlife. I was lucky enough to get to experience this with Sabrina and two of our closest friends a couple of weeks ago. Going into the trip I knew that I was going to be surrounded by three people at all hours of the day since we were going to be frolicking the city together while also sharing a rented townhouse. I had to plan how I was going to be able to politely get my space from everyone. Lucky for me, the AirBnB that we were staying at had an outdoor grill, so I offered my services as grill master. This gave me the opportunity to have time to myself every night when we made dinner, and it allowed me to recharge and reset after spending the day exploring the city with friends. My friends on the trip knew that I needed time to myself and I am thankful that they left me on my own for that short period of time.
Stephen and Joe’s 5 tips to optimize the introvert travel experience:
1. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, (such as the Disney example above), don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence. Find a place where you can retreat in order to center yourself and put yourself in a better mindset.
2. Traveling with friends or a significant other? Have a conversation with traveling companions ahead of time. Just like you plan the activities you will do in your destination you need to plan what you will do in the downtime. Let whoever you are traveling with know that you will need to find time and space to be by yourself, not because you do not like being with them, but because you need time to recharge, so that you can enjoy the trip with them.
3. While on vacation, try to keep some sort of routine like you do while at home. For example, have that morning coffee while catching up on the news in the morning just as you would at home instead of rushing out the door to start exploring. This stability could ease the mind especially as you are stuck in a new environment.
4. Invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones. They’re lifesavers if you’re stuck on a flight with, say, loud talkers and crying babies, and help create the right frame of mind from the onset of your trip. You might find they come in handy after you return home too.
5. Keep a travel journal if you like to write (which many introverts do). It’s a nice way to document what you’re doing on your trip, as well as be an outlet for any emotions (both positive and negative) that may come up. Plus, you’ll have something to look back on afterwards, in addition to your photos, of course!