Travel as an Introvert: The Truth

Traveling as an Introvert

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Traveling as an Introvert Full Time

As an introvert, how can I travel the world fulltime? How do I manage the kids, the travel, the work, and the adventure…and still make time to decompress?

Being an introvert seems to be in vogue these days.  It is now more acceptable to be introverted, it is celebrated and even glorified.  For some, being introverted is a self-prioritizing badge of honor. But how do I manage traveling as an introvert?

I have always struggled with being introverted. As a child and teen, I didn’t have the words for what I was or what I needed.  Some days I would be flying high, smiling and chatting with friends, making weekend plans and blasting my burned CD mixes of Backstreet Boys and Tim McGraw (90’s teen all the way).

Other days, I would slink out of high school as fast as possible, drive directly home, lock my bedroom door, and lay around my room reading, writing, and decompressing from a full day of being “on.” Once that lock clicked, I could breathe.  Even through college and graduate school, and choosing one of the least introverted careers (a speech-language pathologist), I didn’t fully comprehend my own needs.  

I Should Have Known I was an Introvert…

I should have clued in when I skipped rush week and moved into the sorority house a week late on purpose. Sorry sisters.  I should have known when I made damn sure to secure the only single room in the sorority house…no more freshman dorm room sharing for me!  I should have clued in when I traveled to Barcelona with my college friends, and I went out sightseeing alone in the mornings while they slept all day.  So many clues. I was so clueless!!

Basically, traveling as an introvert is hard. I realize now, as a mom and a somewhat more mature person, that yes, I am introverted. I need time to be quiet, I need time to recharge, I need time to be alone and think, and time where I don’t have to be “on” or outwardly happy for others. 

Accepting Yourself as a Traveling Introvert

I was always pinned as a “mean” person, RBF is real (IYKYK).  People have always told me I look unhappy, or to smile more, or to be nicer. I wanted to scream at people, “I AM THE NICEST PERSON I KNOW!!!!”  I wanted to say “I am perfectly happy, I am content. Why do I need to smile constantly to prove that to you?”

It has taken me years to come to a place of acceptance and to travel as an introvert with ease.  To a place where I allow myself to prepare for being “on,” and where I can confidently take down time when I need to. 

I am lucky to have found a friend, a best friend, who is like me.  Who understands the need of traveling as an introvert.  Who can sit next to me on the couch, while we ignore each other and read/write/be, and then get up and feel like we are more connected than ever! Here’s to looking at you, Megs.

Am I Always Introverted While Traveling?

So, is being introverted/extroverted more of a spectrum? Can your amount of introversion fluctuate? I think yes, and yes again!  

But you know all this. You are really wondering how I make fulltime world travel work as an Introvert. Especially, how I travel as an introvert day in and day out.  Some days, I envision myself skipping through the streets of a new city, a shining smile, sunny day and lots of interacting with people and the local culture.  

Some days, I just want to hibernate in my room, apartment or hotel.  Traveling as an introvert is a delicate balance. My favorite gear that helps me travel as an introvert are these comfortable, lightweight, noise-cancelling headphones.

Furthermore, given that we are a family of 4, with two introverts and two extroverts, I do work hard to balance the needs of all. A close friend, who is a guru on emotional regulation and self realization, once put me squarely in my place when I started to worry that my introversive tendencies were interfering with the needs of my extremely extroverted child. 

She reminded me, in her gentle yet authoritative way, as a matter of fact, that teaching SoccerGal how to “be” with herself, how to take down-time, and prioritize her body and brain’s needs was a gift.  Eventually, she reminded me that, unlike the rest of us middle agers who are only now starting to prioritize our internal needs, SoccerGal is learning those skills now, before she burns out at 40. Thank you, Anita. I certainly agree. 

Making the Most of Traveling as an Introvert

To make the most of traveling as an introvert, more often than not, I schedule our family in the following way;

  • Early Morning: earlier in the morning is when I do my best work. I am fresh, focused and haven’t worn out my limit for the day. I usually get up and get straight to work for a few hours during which BeachDad handles breakfast.
  • Mornings: we are up and out while we are fresh and well rested, we do our big adventure in the mornings.
  • Midday: We fuel up and take some slow time around lunch, find a spot to sit, people watch, write, read and eat.
  • Early afternoon: we may do a small thing, such as some errands.
  • Late afternoon: we return to our apartment or hotel, and we REST.  Real rest.  Nap, read, write, draw…laze around.  We re-set, decompress and spend some quiet time either alone or together.  My husband (more extroverted than me) and SoccerGal (who is the extreme extrovert in our family) might play some card or board games or go for a walk.  Depending on how taxing our day was, we might eat in or go out again to interact and engage with the world for dinner and evening walks.

Does a Regular Bedtime Help When Traveling as an Introvert?

I am adamant about reasonable bedtimes for the kids. We especially need a warm nightly shower and at least half an hour of reading and winding down before bed for the kids. These gentle routines allow us all to meet our body and brain’s needs.  As a result, it allows us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone during the day.  The best reminder for a traveling introvert is from a magnet I bought on our first family trip to New York City (go figure)!  I leave you, my introvert traveler, with some encouragement on an overwhelming day:

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”