Yes, I’m a self-confessed introvert. Introversion is often misunderstood by many, and all too often I’m thrown into the “why can’t you be like her” basket. Yet, unbeknownst to some, introversion actually has its advantages – particularly when travel is involved. So here are my ways on how introverted tendencies can give you a more immersed travel experience.
Lose yourself in the crowd
Many introverts can relate to feeling alone in a crowd full of people to chat to and potentially befriend. There is that overbearing reluctance to deal with crowds because there are just too many strangers. Introverts tend to stick by those they know and who they can converse with comfortably. But what does an introvert do when they travel to a country where they know no-one? I simply wander right into the crowd and lose myself. What could be better than wandering aimlessly through the crowd, lured by the strong smell of freshly cooked street food or the chance of a street performer or just simple, daily activities being played out right in front your eyes? It’s an exciting prospect for the bright-eyed traveller.
Embrace the downtime while on holiday
Time alone to recharge the batteries is a recipe for bliss for many introverts. The world can sometimes become too noisy, and an excessive amount of stimuli can be overwhelming. While some might think that time on the hands with nothing more than a cup of coffee and a bunch of travel magazines may seem a waste of time, the introvert looks upon these moments as time to reflect, regroup and revitalise for the journey ahead. Embrace the countless adventures you can find while gallivanting around a new city but try to locate a bespoke hole-in-the-wall of a cafe or bar that may be a hidden gem. Position yourself at a "table for one" to sip on a cup or glass of the local brew while thumbing the local newspaper or street magazine. It’s one great way to experience the heartbeat of the town you’re exploring. You can watch local rituals act out in front of you too.
Notice the smaller details…
I have an eye for detail to the point where it bores and perplexes people. But an eye for the finer details means you can discover many surprises while on the path of travel; surprises that some travellers may miss completely. Plus, unexpected visual stimuli brings new thought processes and a new sense of pleasure for the mind. When wandering the path less travelled, take a slower pace and stop to view the tiny details – a child playing a game with a friend on the street, a partially torn poster on a wall, the fading paintwork in a dark corner of a centuries-old temple. Imagine the stories behind such things that often go ignored by many?
…but look at the big picture
As much as we introverts thrive on the details, the big picture appeals to us as well. When out and about in a new town, gather all the details you’ve stumbled across and interpret them in the "bigger picture" context of culture. I came across a wonderful quote on a tourist’s t-shirt while in Damascus, Syria a few years ago. It read “the beauty of imperfection", and spoke of Damascus itself. This small quote on a t-shirt brought all of my observations together. Initially, tangles of electricity lines, unfinished levels of half-built buildings and the constant drone of traffic intertwining into a sea of automotive mess all seemed chaotic and disorderly. But, collectively it’s what brought together the true beauty of Damascus. Damascus wouldn’t be Damascus without these things, and the quote spoke volumes of the Syrian culture and way of life; such a beautiful and poetic moment in observation.
Write a personal journal
Introverts who love to write harness every opportunity they can to do so as they thrive in a working environment where they can work solo. The resulting creativity flows in waves when moments of solitude are used to gather thoughts and regroup. Along the intrepid trail, there is so much to write about that I often fill many notebooks. Those notes then become the blog posts you enjoy reading here. Similarly, I enjoy reading the notes once I return home as they give me an invaluable record of my journey. I love reading over the feelings each experience conjured along my trip. Imagine the memories you can bring back, and being able to read over the rawness and intensity of what you experienced in a foreign land. Those memories are priceless, and could be more valuable than any clichéd souvenir.
How would you embrace a new city like an introvert? Or, are you a self-confessed introvert too? What are your secrets for complete travel immersion?