The Introverts Guide to Traveling Alone

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If you google “introvert” then this answer should pop up: “Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits. Their disposition is frequently misconstrued as shyness, social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder, but many introverts socialize easily; they just strongly prefer not to”. Ever since I was a toddler people would comment on how “shy” I was, but I have always been hyperaware of self, and I knew that wasn’t it. As a kid I knew that I simply didn’t want to always socialize with others, and now as an adult, I still refuse to do things that I don’t want to.

Because more and more people are becoming aware of their introversion (often times confused with ambiversion), it’s thrown around like a hip new buzzword. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up to someone and expressed that I am an introvert only for them to tell me that they were either 1. an introvert as well, or 2. an extroverted introvert. -_- That literally happens every time, and while I’m not the president of the club, I highly doubt we are ALL introverts. You just can’t sit with us. But back to me. I, being a libra, am a naturally social human and it’s supposed to be in my nature to want to be the life of literally every party. While I can put on my social butterfly kimono and schmooze and mingle, it’s often times extremely draining. Sometimes i’ll agree to attend events because I think I can handle the partying and the DREADFUL small talk, only to want to cancel plans as I’m about to leave out of the house. However, I go out of my way to not stay cooped up and alone because my introversion is not debilitating, and I will never allow it to stop me from living a “normal” life. I also flourish in small, intimate settings and once I get to know you and we’re past the “small talk” (can I reiterate how much I hate small talk) stage I am open and comfortable, and well, it’s just not as draining. A night on the town with a friend or two won’t require me to need to recharge mentally, physically, and spiritually for a few days. I’m good. But that’s just me because, remember, I know me very well.
With solo travel being the new black I’m sure people wonder how I, as an introvert, am willing and all too ready to go somewhere new alone. I’m sure the idea of solo travel is just as appealing to other introverts, but you may be wondering how you can do it without booking the next flight back immediately, assuming you got on the first flight out. Well, that’s where this cool little post comes in. I want to help you by providing some tips I’ve accumulated along the way. I hope to also educate some of you judgmental extroverts as well. 
I always try to be aware of when I’m talking myself out of something versus acknowledging logical reasons not to do it. Know the difference. If fear is holding you back from doing something, especially something like traveling alone, then take some time to weigh the pros and cons. If the pros outweigh the cons, or if the only con is that you’re scared, then put that fear on the back burner and overcome it! What are you waiting for? FACE YOUR FEAR!
During my last vacation I traveled to San Francisco alone. Not many people know this, but I stayed in a hostel. Being an American and traveling domestically, staying in a hostel seemed like a pretty weird idea. However, I knew that I’d be engaging in a ton of solo travel this year, and to keep costs low I may opt for hostels versus other lodging options. I wanted to get practice here in the states before traveling to the UK, or elsewhere, and staying in a hostel. It was also important for me not to isolate myself because even though I’m an introvert, I really want to meet other travelers since there are little to none in my social circle. I’m making 2016 my year to surround myself with likeminded individuals in all aspects of life. I chose a 4 bed, female hostel room because more people would’ve been too much of a shock, and sleeping in a room full of guys is not something I’m interested in. Luckily there were only two girls in the room when I arrived and they worked at the hostel, so it was slightly different than if I had 3 roommates and all of them were from different parts of the world. I knew my limits and put myself in an environment I knew I could handle, however you have to choose what’s comfortable for you. If you want to stay at a hostel to be able to interact with other travelers whenever you want, but aren’t comfortable sharing a room, then opt for a private room. It’s still way cheaper than a hotel and most Airbnb’s. Just be sure that you actually leave your room from time to time. It’s way too easy for us to get comfortable in our aloneness.
As if staying in a hostel wasn’t as far out of my comfort zone as possible, I tried to do other things that may be deemed as “normal,”  but are genuinely uncomfortable for me. Eating at a restaurant or having a drink alone sounds easy enough, but it’s something I have to force myself to do. Not only do I not enjoy looking like the loner, but I truly enjoy having awesome food with great friends and equally good conversation. I can’t have that at a table or a bar by myself, that is unless someone comes up and starts a conversation. A conversation consisting of small talk. Remember how much I hate small talk? So imagine how I felt not only having meals by myself at restaurants, but I also went to a couple lounges (fully packed with people mind you) and even to a wine tasting solo. I did this to 1. prove to myself that it wasn’t so bad, and 2. so that I didn’t stay cooped up in my room for the entire time. Unfortunately I didn’t get to participate in any group activities with the hostel because I always had something else on my agenda, but this is another great option. Hostels are always trying to bring travelers together by hosting game nights, dinner, bike tours, etc. Throw your name on a list and just go.
I’m the poster child for being on vacation and just leaving my room or friend(s) for a bit to wander off alone. Unless I’m with my partner, it’s very difficult for me to be around someone nonstop and not break away to get some time to myself. This is usually an introvert thing. We literally need that time to ourselves to rejuvenate because being around others can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. It’s draining to say the least, at least for me. So, me time is always necessary. If it is for you as well, and you opt to stay in a hostel shared room or partake in group activities, make sure you take time for yourself and away from others.
I’m sure it sounds like a joke, but I’ll try anything three times. Yes, anything. And yes, three. That’s the amount of times I believe it takes me to decide whether or not I really like or dislike something. I told you, I know me very well. Also, as a libra I’m super indecisive, so I rarely form immediate solid opinions to begin with. Having said that, if solo travel is something that doesn’t work for you the first time, go ahead and give it another shot. If everything went horribly wrong the first time, then take notes and figure out how it can go better the next time. Find what works for you and tackle it head on as many times as you’re willing before writing it off for good. Trust me, it can be an amazing thing.

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