Traveling Solo? Tips for an Introverted Traveler

If you ask anyone who knows me from home, they would tell you I’m introverted and relatively antisocial. If you asked anyone I met while traveling, they might be more inclined to say the opposite. That really depends on who you’re asking and when they met me, but when I travel, I am so open to connecting with others and experiencing new cultures.

I’m not shy by any means, but I definitely need time alone to “recharge” my social energy. I don’t feed off of the energy of other people. Other people typically drain me more than they energize me. I am the type of person who would rather be alone than be in company of anyone I dislike or get a bad vibe from.

I am fully capable of being alone and experiencing things by myself. I do so all the time, but sometimes it’s easier to do things with someone else, and as a female traveling completely by herself, it’s also safer.

So, how does an introvert travel? Is it OK to travel alone and not interact with others? Of course. Your path is your path. But if you want to try and open yourself up to other fellow travelers, here is my advice & tips for solo traveling as an introvert:

The hardest part is when you first start traveling. The most important thing to at least try to do is to break out of your shell a little bit. Set yourself up for success by staying in hostel dorms with other people. Do what you’re comfortable with in terms of how many people and whether you want a mixed dorm or female/male only, if they have them.

Staying in a hostel dorm puts you in a room with other people from the start and they’re more than likely doing the exact same thing you’re doing. I’m not saying you have to be best friends, and sometimes you’re in rooms with other people who are traveling together, but it’s someone to talk to and connect with. When you walk into a room of people hanging out in a dorm, most people in the room will introduce themselves and ask the basic questions that other travelers ask each other. Just remember, other travelers are just like you. No one is going to judge you.

Look into a hostel that has common areas and a good social environment; some places have common areas with bars, some have restaurants, some just have big common areas with a tv and a computer, but if you’re choosing a hostel without a common area at all, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I met people just by sitting in a common area. Sometimes, they’ll introduce themselves. If you walk into a common area with a bunch of people, introduce yourself. The best way I met most people were on hostel organized pub crawls and hostel dinners.

Questions to ask other travelers to break the ice:

  • Where they’re from originally
  • How long they’re traveling for
  • How long they’ve been there for
  • What they have planned
  • When they’re leaving
  • Where they’ve been (in town, or in general)
  • What they do for a living

Another great way to meet people is by going on walking tours. You can go on free ones that are organized by your hostel, or just through companies like Sandeman’s. You’re stuck with these people for a few hours of the day and you’re almost guaranteed to find someone close to your age to chat with while you’re walking or taking breaks. You can always spot the other people who are there solo pretty easily. I made lots of friends and connected with people while on walking tours.

Another piece of advice: ASK strangers to take photos of you! I regret not asking more strangers to take photos of me in really cool places where I was alone. The best people to ask are the ones who are taking pictures themselves (or have a fancy camera) with other people around them. As a solo female traveler, I usually asked groups of girls to do it (because they know those angles!) and no one ever turned me down. The general rule of thumb is to ask people who look unintimidating and look like other travelers. That, or invest in a selfie stick because everyone has one! For instance, a bartender took this photo:

Don’t have high expectations and learn to let yourself be alone when you want to be. Someone might be really cool from the start but once you spend an hour with them, you can’t wait to get away from them. Excuse yourself. It’s your experience and you don’t have to make future plans or feel obligated to say yes to anything. If there is something you know you want to do alone, then do it alone. No one is forcing you to socialize.

The most important thing to remember is that this is your journey and there is no correct way to do it. Do what you want to do for yourself! You don’t have to invite people into plans if you don’t want to. But just remember, letting yourself out of your comfort zone can give you great experiences and expose you to things you wouldn’t have encountered on your own. It was because I opened myself to others that I ate at great restaurants that I didn’t know existed, went to a nude beach, explored magnificent places, and took part in things I never would have thought to do.

Are you as introverted as me? Or do you think you’re going to break out of your shell while you travel solo?

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