The Introvert's Guide to Enjoying Solo Travel (Video)
Introverts get a bad rap for always wanting to be alone. For those who need peace and quiet to recharge, sometimes constant interaction with strangers can create stress or anxiety — and this can be especially true while traveling alone.
Is everyone at a restaurant staring at you and your table for one? What’s the best way to meet someone new? And how do you ask a stranger to take your photo?
Amber Blecker, who runs Solo Cruise Resource, says solo travel is actually a great option for introverts. “Introverts aren’t necessarily shy or reserved, but simply need time on their own to recharge,” she said. “Traveling alone affords them the option to meet people, see and do things they want, but in a manner which doesn’t leave them overwhelmed.”
But if certain situations tend to make you feel awkward, the tips below are sure to put you at ease whether you’re away for a weekend or an extended vacation.
Sit near the bar or the kitchen at restaurants.
“When eating alone, I tend to go to casual places where people are in and out rather than in a group setting,” said Elena Murzello, author of “The Love List: A Guide to Getting Who You Want.” This can feel less intimidating than being surrounded by diners who are lingering over long meals. Also, the choice of where to sit has an impact says WanderSafe app creator, Stephenie Rodriguez.
“Request to sit at the bar or near the kitchen,” she said. You’ll have access to the waitstaff who’ll be more than willing to chat you up, if that’s what you want. “They can provide detailed knowledge of the city, give you more personalized service and won’t intrude on your space.”
Sign up for a tour.
Practically any place you visit will have some type of tour to learn more about the city. These aren’t just educational. Andy McCune, cofounder of Unfold, says they’re a useful tool for introverts. “Group activities such as cooking classes, brewery tours and walking tours offer a great opportunity to meet new people. Solo travelers can zero in on the activity’s learnings and there’s little stress nor excessive group interaction required.”
Learn the easiest way to ask anyone to snap your picture.
Asking a stranger for a favor might feel odd for anyone, but especially for an introvert. And if you’ve ever wanted someone to take your photo, then you know that feeling. However, if you encounter a small group of people, that’s usually the perfect opportunity to capture your travel memories on film.
“When you see someone about to take a photo of their friends or family, offer to take the picture so everyone can be in it together. You've done them a favor, and then it's easy to continue the conversation,” said co-owner of travel company Ski Souls, Bruce Berkman. The same goes for when you’re on a group tour.
“People are more open to taking your pictures [on a tour], as they are already in the mode of doing so,” according to travel expert Ariana Pierce. “They will be more than happy to help.”
Utilize apps to meet new people.
Introverts love a quiet moment, but sometimes they just want to meet someone new, whether it’s for a friendly drink or fun date. During his travels from Paris to New York, Chef Olivier Palazzo of Le Song used the power of technology so he wasn’t always alone: “I would download apps to help with navigation, communication and even social apps to make friends on Bumble BFF.” The initial chats you have online can help you determine if you and your newfound friend should meet in person.
If you need to recharge, take a walk.
Starting to feel drained and need a break? “A way of immediately feeling better is to take a long walk. Hitting the road lets your overloaded mind meander,” says Lee Thompson of Flash Pack, a tour company designed specifically for solo travelers. Taking a walk among people might sound counterintuitive to gaining solitude, but going at your own pace is really the key. Travel Channel host Kinga Philipps also suggests open air markets and festivals as an option to enjoy the scenery without feeling pressure to interact.
“Walking around keeps you moving so engagement is optional and at your discretion,” she said.