I’m on summer vacation and technically unemployed until my PhD starts in the fall, so I’m spending about a month traveling to see family and friends. I’ll be staying with my mom, my in-laws, my cousin, and three separate pairs of friends, all at their homes.
I love traveling like this because I get to see how different people live and try new things all month long. As an introvert, I find that there are a few things I can do, while spending time at various homes, to make sure I’m recharged in order to enjoy the high amounts of social time for the next month…
1. Keep/start an exercise routine
Physical activity is vital for me, and I find that I enjoy running every other day for about twenty minutes when I’m traveling. I’m not really a runner, but knowing it will help with other things (namely hiking and hockey) can help motivate me. It also makes me feel better getting all those good brain chemicals flowing.
I also use some apps (see tip number two below) to keep track of things and have other activities I can do. Even if running isn’t your jam, going for a walk can help you get out of the house and see the neighbourhood where you’re staying.
2. Use technology to maintain consistency
While running, I listen to the same podcasts so I can stay up to date with them. I also downloaded a few apps that I can play or engage with every day in order to track how I’m spending my time.
And keeping my other writing project on Dropbox or Google Drive helps me access my writing from anywhere. I find that sometimes writing in a different space after time spent with loved ones I don’t get to see that often provides me with creativity and inspiration I don’t get from my daily routine.
3. Pack light
I have with me right now a carry-on suitcase and a backpack. This allows me to move around easily, take public transport (which helps with costs), and fit in any room in which I’m staying.
4. Bring snacks
I don’t realize how much I eat during the day until I stay with others who have different eating schedules (I’m a grazer, eating many times during the day). So having a few granola bars is an easy way to make sure I have something with me if I get hungry. I’m also a vegetarian, so even though all my friend and family are usually more than accommodating, it provides a buffer zone for those moments when vegetarian food is not available. This little bit of planning ahead helps me be able to stay more spontaneous.
5. Say yes and try new things
While this one may be confusing as to how it helps an introvert like me travel better, it actually is very important. Sometimes I can be a little set in my ways. So when someone asks me if I want to do something, I try to say yes and go along with their plans or routines so I can see their daily lives up close.
I have regretted not doing things I’ve been invited to because I thought I needed alone time. Usually the best activities are the ones chosen by my hosts, and I think it’s part of being a good guest to go along with their ideas. (This is also something my partner has done for years, and I’ve always admired that about him).
6. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself
Sometimes, I do need a break and need to take time for myself. By monitoring how I’m feeling, I can advocate for myself by taking a nap, reading, going for a walk, or doing an activity by myself that will recharge me and get me ready to be social again. This can be difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t need time alone. But if I’ve had a busy day doing a lot of things, taking one hour or so alone can ensure the evening’s activities will be enjoyable and not draining. But like I said in number five, I want to do it when something isn’t planned so I don’t miss out on a cool experience.
7. Be aware of your hosts
Sometimes the timing isn’t perfect, and I end up staying with people when they have other visitors, or they just got back from a trip or have to work or other life events. While it’s awesome to still be able to stay with them, I try to communicate with them about their schedule and assure them I am perfectly happy to spend time by myself exploring the city on my own. Honestly, sometimes just going to a coffee shop by myself works. Finding an event I can go to is also a good way to explore an area on my own.
I realize this may be difficult for some people, but if you aren’t used to traveling by yourself, this can be a good way to break out of that comfort zone and have new experiences.
We’d love to hear from other traveling introverts! How do you balance socializing, couch surfing, and alone time on trips?