One of the gifts of getting -cough- older is that I get to know myself better. Things I didn’t understand as a newbie traveller make a whole lot more sense now. This not only has to do with becoming a more experienced traveller, it encompasses all aspects of life, really. Whatever curve ball is and will be thrown my way in life, it doesn’t change anything about my dedication to be my most authentic self and to be proud of the things I’ve accomplished. My life is imperfect, but despite those imperfections, I can honestly say that right now…I’m happy! Certain things have aligned in my life, by working hard, by making the effort and with perhaps a twinkle of luck. I’m also more accepting of myself, though -knowing me- I’ll probably always remain self-critical too.
And an important part of who I am is being an introvert.
Introversion has nothing to do with shyness, as some may believe. It has, however, everything to do with how your brain works, how you spend your energy and how you recharge your battery. The short version: extraverts thrive in social situations with heaps of people around and they get their energy from that; basically, the more the merrier. Introverts recharge their battery alone, and while they love social interactions too, dealing with (many) people depletes their energy. An article that has been very helpful for me is Caring For Your Introvert, but there are many more articles, YouTube videos, illustrations etc. about introversion. Of course there’s more to it than ‘introversion vs. extraversion’ and ‘either/or’. I see the terms more on a spectrum, with ‘ends’ and ‘in betweens’.
Since being an introvert is part of who I am, it also goes travelling with me! So how do I care for my introvert when I travel?
Long distance planes are huge, you’re cooped up in a big box with many people and the engines are roaring continuously. I’m not afraid of flying and to me it’s part of the adventure, but the constant noise of the engines tires me and flying always gives me a headache. Long lines at the border can also be annoying, especially when you’re over-sensitised, have a headache, and lack sleep. I’ve come to the realisation that I prefer a long stopover for the opportunity at quiet time. It makes the trip over so much better to deal with.
First and last few days
On past travels, I booked mostly dorm rooms, because it’s generally cheaper than a private room. I think there are definitely upsides to sharing a room with other people when you’re exploring someplace new. It’s exciting, it’s how you get to chat with people from all over the world very easily. But not only is there this wonderful thing called jetlag, I’ve also learnt over the years that I need a little time to adjust. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer a private room, at least for the first and last few days of my travels. But I’ve been treating myself to private rooms more often, and truth be told, it’s actually quite nice!
Introvert people can’t be ‘switched on’ all the time. As I mentioned, I’m not a shy person. In fact, I consider myself a social person, and I love chatting with people to learn about them and their corner of the world. It’s awesome! But I also really love strolling on a beach by myself, staring at the horizon and listening to the sound of waves crashing to shore. I love aimlessly wandering about, camera at the ready and taking pictures of whatever catches my eye. I can be daydreaming in a park or enjoy roaming the streets of a city or town, observing daily life going by. I don’t want people around me all the time and I use alone time to recharge my battery. I’ve always been able to entertain myself anyway, and I can have a wonderful time exploring by myself.
Travel your own travel
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ is a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt that holds meaning to me. As an introvert, I tend to think about pretty much everything. On earlier travels I could get discouraged if I didn’t make a friend in every hostel or if I didn’t have an amazing experience somewhere, filled to the brim with activities and parties. As if I wasn’t taking everything I could out of those travels. I now realise how far removed that is from who I am and how I like to travel. Because I don’t need to travel fast-paced all the time and daily life is full on enough. I don’t need to make a friend in every hostel or like every place that I go to. I’m not a party person, so long nights in pubs or clubs with alcohol flowing freely simply doesn’t appeal to me. Sometimes things don’t align, sometimes my bucket’s full, sometimes there are no people that you click with. It happens, it’s life and it’s not that big of a deal. So when my bucket’s full with impressions, I take time to process, reflect, introspect. I take time to enjoy every moment, action packed or not. I take time to relax and ‘waste’ a day away if I want to, which is not wasting anything at all, really.
I care for my introvert, by enjoying as much as possible in the way that I enjoy myself.
Do you lean more on the introvert or extravert side of things? Does it affect your travelling and how do you take care of your nature? Any tips for other introverts, extraverts and variations on the theme?