Introverts Travel with Others?
Whoa, whoa, whoa…introverts going on group trips? Yes! Yes, we do. Introverts travel with others. I, myself identify as being an introvert and have gone on groups trips, and let me say it can be a very difficult and tiring experience. I advocate for solo traveling all the way. And I believe everyone should try it. Some people are very scared to travel alone, but I prefer it! Here’s how an introvert can navigate traveling with others, and how to break it to folks when they want to do it alone.
Folks who prefer traveling alone can’t entirely avoid traveling with others. I mean, we have families, close friends; maybe there is a wedding to go to (and all the other festivities that go along with weddings), and loved ones that want to travel with us. So, even though we might prefer to travel alone it doesn’t happen all the time.
There are so many labels out there, introvert, extrovert, extroverted introvert, antisocial extroverts, omnivert, ambivert, and in a few years there’s probably going to be a few more labels to add to this. How do I identify? After reading into this a bit more I find that I am an ambivert. It depends on the situation what qualities I display either on the introvert side or extrovert side. Please take a look at this article to learn more about the scale of introversion and extroversion. It was very eye opening for me to learn more about the scale on introversion and extroversion. So many shades of grey.
Regardless of the labels, I always felt comfortable doing things on my own. Now, don’t get me wrong I have my moments when I want to interact with folks, and be very social. Which is kind of a double edge sword because my homeostasis growing up was just leave me be, but then when I wanted to be social it threw people off. The surprising reaction from people made me turn more into myself, and feel as though I wasn’t able to be social. So, I got more and more comfortable in my own skin.
Being around, having conversations, and interacting with people is very exhausting for introverts. This I can truly relate to. After a few hours out with a bunch of people I’m ready to go home to be alone, rest, and be with my own company. Although this does complicate matters when you have a spouse, and/or kids. You cherish those moments alone even more when they come by. We need our alone time no matter the situation.
First Time Traveling
My first travel experience was at 16 when I went with a friend to visit my boyfriend in North Carolina. She was a year and a few months older than me and just got done with basic training. Me and her were so excited! It was our first plane ride ever, and our first time really traveling without our parents. It was a very big moment for us. We were to be down there for a week. A day into the trip she got horrible homesickness and headed back to our hometown of Buffalo.
What that taught me:
1.) How sad I got after my friend left, and all the fun that I thought went with her.
2.) How disappointed I was that she didn’t complete the trip, get past her homesickness, and didn’t stick it out.
3.) Not everyone likes to, or can handle travel. (Everyone has their own pace.)
4.) Go on trips alone, because people’s follow through is not what I want it to be.
Now that last one sounds really negative, but it was a true learning experience for me because I learned that the more people that are involved in a trip the more things that can fall through, unexpectedly change, and the chances of things not happening increase dramatically! At the end of that trip I still had fun, me and her were still friends, I took my first ferry ride, and saw my favorite lighthouse!
It was years and years after till I actually took a trip again with someone. To be fair, through the rest of high school and college I didn’t travel very much outside the away swim meets in college, getting to take some long bus rides across NY state.
My next traveling with a friend event was during studying abroad in Australia. It was spring break and my german roommate, Karolin, and I didn’t have plans for our break, but we wanted to do something. We decided to visit Melbourne, travel the Great Ocean Road, and visit Tasmania! I had more confidence in her because people who study abroad have the travel bug. We want to travel as much as we can. So, we booked our flights and had a great vacation. You can read more about my study abroad experience here.
Compatibility with people you travel with is important, it can make or break a trip. And me and my roommate Karolin seemed to be compatible. There was a balance in doing things together, like us being able to wander off and not worry about each other, and then coming together for dinner or drinks out on the town.
Choose your travel partner wisely. I would be remiss to not tell you that long friendships have been shattered into pieces over traveling together. You may get along great as friends, but big trips can ruin that friendship and if not, it definitely will test it. Some friendships grow deeper and stronger because of great long trips. It can really go either way.
It Shocks People
When I studied abroad I traveled there on my own. I never thought to study abroad with friends. All my friends in college had very different goals. None of them even talked about studying overseas. So, my study abroad goal I kept to myself up until I was accepted in the program and had to get my visa and passport. When I told people what I was doing and where I was going they were absolutely shocked that I was making that kind of trip alone to a place where I knew no one. I thought that to be exciting. Sure, I was nervous, but that didn’t stop me. I wanted to see Australia! Experience it for all it was worth. And just because I didn’t have friends with me to do it, it didn’t mean I wasn’t going to follow through. I had goals!
The shock never goes away. When I relocated to LA by myself – shock. Started to work on a cruise ship – shock. When I relocated to NYC – more shock. Took a road trip in California that included 3 national parks – SHOCK. That 11 day trip in Europe – of course more SHOCK. Going to Greece for a wedding – SHOCK!
I understand why people would be shocked, and it’s all based on the fact that I did those things alone. It doesn’t matter how often I traveled, the older I became, or how much I knew the area. If you travel alone people think of it as a death wish. You’re bound to come home in a body bag, or cut into a million pieces only to be found in a ditch on the side of an unmarked road in the country side. This thinking is ridiculous.
Our society is built on social interactions. It makes everyday people uncomfortable when someone steps out of the norm. Funny thing is there are millions of us that do this all the time! So, if you think you are the only one out there that wants to travel alone, you’re not. There’s a reason why solo travel is so trendy right now.
Why travel alone? I never knew that was a thing until I realized “normal” people always travel with others. It’s definitely a trend now to solo travel, and I’m glad it is. I love it. You can make a plan and nothing changes unless YOU want it to. You can veg out while on vacation and not feel pressured to fill the time with something to do with your fellow travel companions. There’s such freedom to do what you want, it’s intoxicating!
One thing I love about traveling alone is getting lost. When you get lost with your friends I feel like there’s always going to be someone that panics, then you have to make sure to calm them down. Or there’s this immediate need to get back on track, find our way, and get back to the plan. But I love getting lost because I always end up in a cool and interesting place, and I also get to know the area better.
Another benefit to traveling alone is the comfort factor, or discomfort factor I should say. You might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation when you travel alone. For example the most known situation is eating alone. Some people would rather die than do that! Myself, I have no problems with this. I can sit down, people watch, write in my journal, or read the local newspaper (which I love to do!) I actually find it more difficult to eat with people. Which sounds so ridiculous. Maybe I’m just awkward. I hate worrying about what to say next. This totally dependent on who’s at the table of course.
Can you rough it?
There’s also the “roughing” it factor. I can rough it when I travel. I’ll sleep in my car or a hostel, and I don’t need too much fanciness on my trips as opposed to when you do groups trips not everyone is down to rough it like you would. Another example is when your friend wants to stay at a resort, and you would rather book an Airbnb in an everyday neighborhood. This comes down to compatibility again. You can’t travel with someone that wants luxury when you’d rather live like a local. Traveling alone eliminates all of this hassle.
Traveling with Friends
After relocating to NYC I started to meet people from all over which lead to having more trips that involved those friends. I took a training course to get certified as a tour director and there was an option to do the course on a ship, and I was sold! Made a lot of friends through that course. I had two roommates, and while I made a lot of friends we ALWAYS hung out together. And I mean always. Having two roommates meant that even when I went back to my cabin I was still not alone. I craved to just sit back and not have anyone “join me” wherever I was. But luckily on the ship there are a lot of places you can hide, and hang out solo.
In London with Friends
Another experience is when I met up with friends in London. I started out my trip in Lisbon on my own, headed to Brussels still on my own, when I got to London I met my two friends from Chicago. They are very fun, and I love them to pieces, but was shocked at how much attachment, or responsibility they thought they had for me.
I like to run, and I would wake up everyday and go for a run. The first day before I left I told them “Hey, if you guys go anywhere just message me and I’ll meet you there.” But they said they would wait for me. Ok, my run was only 3 miles that day so no big deal they weren’t waiting too long. The next day – same thing. But this time I told them I was going for a way longer run. I was gone for two hours and I thought for sure they would go on without me. I wanted them to. Nope, like the loyal friends they are they waited for me.
I expressed how they didn’t have to do that. I actually look forward to navigating a city on my own. So, for me it’s ideal to meet up with someone somewhere. But they didn’t want to “leave me behind.”
Same trip, we hit up the National Galleries in London. Maybe my experience is different, but when I go to a museum I want to wander. I want to just go wherever and not worry about anyone. Not worry about if I spent too long in one room, or too short of a time in another. I thought we would arrive, go in different directions and when we were ready to go to a new floor or leave entirely we would message each other. Nope. If they didn’t see me in the same room they were asking me where I went, and they thought they lost me. This experience was very interesting. I realized this trip was about being with each other and to experience things together. I had to make a mental adjustment. And I was fine with making that adjustment.
On that trip I started it out with days on my own, then ending it with friends. I realized how friends travel together. The compromising that goes into it, and the overall responsibility you have for each other. When you travel with people you have to be willing to be flexible. But for solo travelers out there, the introverts that need recharging, you have to find a way to get in your alone time. There was a lot of time where I was with them, but my runs were on my own. Those runs on that trip were my alone time. Which helped balance out the time that I was with my friends.
Doing a Road Trip with Friends
I think this form of travel is amazing. I love road trips. I’ve done one on my own from Buffalo to Los Angeles when I relocated to LA. I’ve done one with my sister from LA back to Buffalo when I decided to relocate to NYC. And recently I did a road trip from NYC to Minneapolis with a groups of friends this past August (2019). First road trip with friends.
The trip started out with me and my friend Leon. We were going to make the drive up to Minneapolis on our own to meet our friend who moved there from NYC. The drive up was great. Along the way we stopped in Chicago to meet my two friends that I did my London trip with. When we got to Minneapolis we met our friend, Margot and her fiance. The next morning we picked up two more friends from the airport. It was a very busy and fun Airbnb once everyone was there.
We had dinner together, did the Mall of America together, shopped together, visited around town together, we did EVERYTHING together.
I have this goal to run in every city I visit. Minneapolis was no different. The first day that we got to Minneapolis I went for a run. Across the street from our Airbnb was a beautiful lake. I HAD to go for a run. My friend Leon though, I realized he was kind of upset I left him alone in the Airbnb for that half hour I was gone. Honestly I was surprised by this because we just spent about 3 days straight with each other in a car. I thought for sure he would like some space. I was wrong.
When responding to people I give them what I think I would like in a certain situation. And that’s not always the answer. That’s a big mistake people make. But I will say that he survived the half hour. Nothing happened. Looking back I still would have went for my run. I had to. I needed space, and he didn’t. In this situation I took care of me first.
My second run in Minneapolis was with my friend Laura who flew in the morning after me and Leon got there. While I was happy to have a new friend in running I realized that she wanted to run every time I did. I will run a few times with folks, but I still need my runs alone. We were supposed to go for another run and because I wanted to do it alone I never brought it up and the run never happened. I didn’t want to say to my friend “Hey, I would like to run alone.” As the trip went on I had less and less alone time.
The Trip back
Once our time in Minneapolis was over, our one friend flew back to NYC. Myself, Laura, and Leon were driving back to NYC. By this time I was ready to be by myself. That morning before we left we did have one last breakfast together which was very nice. By the end of the 2-day trip back we were very much sick of each other. Me and Leon gave each other such a disgruntled hug before we parted ways for home.
I was very happy to be home. I couldn’t wait to not talk to or eat with someone, and not have a plan for anything. The moment I got home I realized that I couldn’t do trips with friends that long without alone time scheduled in.
How do people like me keep friends, travel with them, and not want to shut out the world once back home? Factor in your alone time. Give people a heads up. It sounds utterly ridiculous, but it works. When you make your schedule and travel plans let your friends know on this specific day at this certain time you are going to chill by yourself way before you even get to your destination. When you schedule it people are way less likely to get offended. Schedule your alone time. Remember it is what you need to stay sane on trips especially those ones for those introverts traveling with others.
What do I mean by take turns? Let’s say you travel 3 times a year, don’t make them all trips with friends. Make every other trip a solo trip. Or maybe if you have a wedding to go to you know that is a heavy group trip, but then you have a family reunion trip in florida, and then you might have a trip with your spouse. That’s your 3 trips in that year. Squeeze in a weekend trip in between those big trips with other folks.
That is what I do. My husband likes to travel as well, but I know I like to travel by myself. He’s not a bad travel partner at all, but nothing beats discovering a place on my own, and making my own schedule. I plan our trips together, and then I plan trips just for me. I like to run, he doesn’t. So, I plan a trip around a half marathon in different states to take care of my need to travel alone. I don’t want to neglect my husband from him wanting to travel with me.
Traveling Never Gets Old
I love traveling, and there are pros and cons to both traveling solo and traveling with friends, and each experience is so different! Know what you need as a traveler. If you need alone time make sure you get it. If you don’t get that time to rejuvenate, for someone like me, it can turn into a bad trip. You can get very impatient, irritable, frustrated when you’re trying to plan things out with your friends. And that’s no fun. Take care of you first!
Do you have a hard time traveling with others? Or maybe you’re ready to do a solo trip. Tell me about it! Share your thoughts, comments concerns below in the comment section.