As an introvert, I adore traveling solo. I get to sit with my own thoughts whenever I want to, choose activities that excite me, and don’t have to share the bed with anyone. But it’s not realistic (or desirable) to think that I’ll forever travel just by myself. As much as I enjoy solo travel, I also like traveling to see my friends and planning girl’s trips. Before traveling with my friends, there are a few small things I do to prep for the trip. Most of the prep work involves shared spreadsheets and last-minute phone calls to sort through travel details, but I also make it a point to chat with my friends about where my head’s at and what my needs are as an introvert. Even though my friends know me very well, it’s always a good idea to talk about what it means to travel as an introvert so that we can have the best vacation possible. Consider the following tips your official introvert travel guide to successfully vacationing with a group of friends.
Talk about your travel needs before the trip
In college, I spent three weeks traveling through Italy with my friend Hannah. By the end of the trip, we were both super tense and didn’t talk much. Looking back, so much of that stress could have been avoided had I just spoken up and told her I needed to recharge by myself. Neither of us had traveled solo before, so we hadn’t thought to talk about how we prefer to travel before we began our trip. I’ve since learned a few things about myself and always remind my friends before trips—no matter how long they are—that I need a good night’s sleep and a little bit of alone time to be happy. I always emphasize beforehand that it’s not them, it’s just how my mind operates. Talking about our travel needs before a trip makes it less awkward when we have a few hours apart.
Schedule in solo activities
Whether or not you like to plan your trips to the very last detail, it’s important for introverts to schedule in some solo activities when traveling with a group of friends. If you’re traveling with people who aren’t used to exploring solo, you could agree to split up in a museum and meet back up at a certain time. This way, you’re all in a same space but you’ll each experience the museum in a different way. Another simple way to get some alone time without totally separating from your friends is to grab a coffee first thing in the morning while they’re getting ready. Again, if you tell your friends ahead of time that you need a little alone time to recharge, this won’t seem odd.
Read more: 5 Tips for Traveling Solo Safely
Avoid sharing a bed at night
Introverts need their own space to relax in, but having your own room in a hotel or AirBNB isn’t always an option. A compromise that works for me is sharing a room with someone, but having the option to sleep in my own bed. I sleep easier knowing that no amount of squirming or hogging of the sheets will wake up my travel companion. When you’re with someone for a few days straight, some physical distance is needed at the end of a day of exploring.
Bring an eye mask & earplugs
Your nighttime routine will likely differ from your friends’ routines. Someone always prefers going to bed later than the other person, and it’s easy to feel annoyed with each other when you just want to sleep and she wants to stay up and read, etc etc. Skip the nighttime drama by bringing an eye mask and earplugs. You’ll be able to fall asleep while she reads a book or scrolls through Twitter.
Journal every night
In addition to physical alone time, introverts need time to reflect on what they’ve seen and done, and journaling is a great way to focus solely on your own thoughts. I’ve kept a travel journal for the past three years, and it’s completely changed the way I visit a new city. Journaling not only helps me remember by travels more clearly, but it also gives me a place to jot down all my unedited thoughts about the people I’m traveling with, the places I’ve been, and more.
Avoid staying in hostels
Let me begin by saying that I’ve stayed in hostels before and enjoyed the experience, but if I’m traveling with friends for an extended period of time I can’t stay exclusively in hostels. Hostels typically have four or more beds per room, and they’re set up a bit like a college dorm room. You don’t get the space you need to unwind, and it’s impossible to have any alone time because the rooms are usually tiny. AirBNBs are a better choice for introverts because the rooms are often bigger, and you might be able to rent out an entire apartment instead of a single room.
Choose walking tours over bus tours
Bus tours and cruises are the worst for introverts because you have no say in what you see or do, every activity is timed, and you’re forced to travel with a lot of people you don’t know. If your friends are itching to do a tour, choose a walking or food tour instead. These are usually smaller groups of people and they don’t last for more than a few hours. Your friend will learn a lot about the local culture and get to ask the guide lots of questions, and you’ll only have to put up with a group of people for a short amount of time. Win-win!
Be vocal about how many people you can travel with
I travel best with one other person. I find it easier to make compromises with just one friend and I don’t feel awkward about letting her know I need a little me time. But sometimes when I’m planning a trip with a friend, she’ll start listing off more of our friends who would probably like to go, and suddenly she’s envisioning a girl’s trip with five people. Although I’m introverted, I can handle a larger group trip if it’s for a weekend or less. But for longer trips I say upfront that I don’t want to add people to our travel group. I’m not trying to be mean, but as an introvert I simply prefer keeping groups small so I can have a little more time to myself.
Travel with like-minded friends
When possible, travel with fellow introverts! I’d still recommend chatting about how much alone time you’ll both need and planning a few solo activities, but traveling with someone who understands how your brain works is the best way to travel.
No matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert, I hope I shed some light on the best way to travel with an introvert. It goes without saying that every person is different, so what works best for me isn’t necessarily what your introverted friend will prefer. When in doubt, just ask what he/she prefers and vice versa.
Tell me: What’s one thing you do when traveling with friends?