Traveling as an introvert can be a challenge, because we have to balance two contradictory things.
On one hand, we introverts love exploring very specific fascinations with places, hobbies, media and culture. We love learning new things and seek substantial new insights to enrich our lives with. We love having clear independent goals, experiencing change of pace and widening our horizons with which we see the world.
But on the other hand, going in a large noisy group, having to negotiate one’s itinerary with multiple people through persuasion, and keeping up with bubbling energy of people can be a challenge. Not to mention all the group-selfies, facebook mutual tagging sprees, howling “Vegas trip Yeaaaah !!!!!”. Also, your travel group has drama and meltdowns, congratulations – you will have to now deal with schisms and “pick a side”.
Several people, myself included, have often felt the need to have “a vacation from a vacation”. Once we get back to work, friends and family, there is an overwhelming tiredness. People ask – “But you just went on a vacation! You played volleyball on the beach until you got a sunburn, trekked the mountains until your calves are sore, partied till 3 am until you gave in and slept out on the floor. Why do you look tired? You must be energized now!”
A solution to this is Solo Travel. When you are solo-traveling, you can set things at your own pace, you have the true freedom of going wherever you want and do activities you like, without every decision turning into a parliamentary/senate policy debate. You can spend 5 hours in a museum of your specific interest, just hang out at a cafe or bar and people-watch, or read a nice book at the mountains with a view – or just stand in the rain after a hot day.
However, if solo travel were that easy !! Solo travel is often focussed around activities that people on the quieter side find useless. Solo travelers generally talk about how they couch-surfed with families, hitchhiked on the freeways or played poker with hostel-mates making 200 facebook-friends along the way.
Solo travel also means taking into account possible danger. It means having to use conversational skills and street-smarts to navigate. It means having to invade tourism spaces clearly oriented towards spring-break college parties, retired couples and kid-friendly families, as you feel out-of-place in a tour group. It means walking into a restaurant and saying “Table for one. Just me.” and bearing the puzzling look of the staff.
But fear not !! The time of Revolution is here. Our quiet voices will be heard. This blog is specifically about –
(i) Preparation beforehand – so that you don’t have to use street-smarts to nagivate your way or be spontaneous.
(ii) Off the track – but not too much – places to visit around the world, that are – on one hand, not drowning in tourists with cargo-shorts and tacky floral hats with cameras larger than their kids, but also not so far off that it is filled with “adventurers” and “influencers” with go-pro cameras parachuting from the sky and landing on trucks for hitch-hiking.
(iii) Quiet and curious attractions in attractions that guidebooks won’t tell you – museums about very specific hobbies and interests, best places to read a book or people-watch, quiet places to unwind and meditate.
(iv) Having local food and drinks in places that are home-y. Walking along neighborhoods which have narrow cozy streets.
(v) Advice and anecdotes on navigating unexpected social situations so you can be better prepared.