The Realities about Traveling as an Introvert5 min read

Sit down. Shut up. Be quiet. Listen.

The world is so loud around us. Our world can’t stop talking. The world is also pretty competitive. It’s not always easy for introverts, they usually don’t get noticed. Even though they have brilliant ideas. Now imagine this introvert is going on a backpacking trip. Hello, here I am! *waves nervously*

HOW I EXPERIENCED TRAVELING AS AN INTROVERT

I did meet many travelers during my two-month-trip and I had the impression that I can’t really compete with them. It’s always: faster, stronger, more extreme. There are a lot of extroverts out there in the world of traveling. There was this one guy who has traveled to over 70 countries and he had some really interesting stories to tell. And he did tell them with pleasure. So at the end of his monologue (sorry, if you should ever read that), he asked me: What about you? And I just blushed. And me? I don’t know.

Everytime I tell someone that I like to go to a café alone, drink a cappuccino and read, they look at me like I am an alien. I love to sit in a café alone and read a book. Why are you making fun of something I like to do? Really? Have you ever thought about what you are doing here? I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy the time for myself. It’s not like I don’t have anyone who would go with me. It’s just that I don’t want anyone with me at this exact moment.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN INTROVERT

Introverts generally feel drained from interacting with anyone who isn’t close, while extroverts gain energy from interacting with others. Introverts need socializing as extroverts do, but after a while we get tired and irritated and we just want to have time for ourselves. That’s why we sometimes come off as cold, arrogant or bored. We are not. Really. Most of the time we enjoy listening and oberserving quietly. Until we reach that point where we are overhelmed by all the people around us, we love love love to hear your stories! [31 signs that you are an introvert. Not meant quite seriously]

I would define myself generally as a “doer” as well as dreamer. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy. But we need a reason to interact. We don’t interact for the sake of interacting. I am genuinely interested in people, but I can only be emotionally intimate with a chosen few of my long-term friends or family. I don’t ask you loads of questions or talk for eons when I don’t know you – but I’m happy to listen to everything you want to talk about!

The questions I do ask: I really want to hear the answer. Beneath my sometimes quiet exterior, there is more. There is more in every introvert, we have a lot to talk about, believe me. Just give us some time to become comfortable with you. Don’t force us to converse unexpectedly. It is so frustrating, it makes us feel like we are boring.

Also: there are different types of introverts and some introverts may seem to be quite extroverted. It also depends on the social situation. Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that we are quiet everyday in every situation. We can be quite load when we are passionate about something. I, for example, think that I’m quite “extroverted” in work / study related situations. However, I still need time for myself after a day of work and after interacting with lots of people.


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Sit down. Shut up. Be quiet. Listen. It can be overhelming to tavel as an introvert. How I experienced it and why I love it nevertheless.            Sit down. Shut up. Be quiet. Listen. It can be overhelming to tavel as an introvert. How I experienced it and why I love it nevertheless.

WHY I'M TRAVELING NEVERTHELESS

I’m an introvert… I love being by myself sometimes, love my books, but I also love being outdoors, love taking a long walk and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky. I am on a journey for beauty, and quiet joy. I am a writer, traveler and explorer. I love to hear the stories of people I haven’t met before, of people who may be close to me one day.

Introverts value the few friends they have. I think it’s not so bad when you’re able to listen to people when you travel. You might learn more about them and their culture. Because introverts crave for authentic and sincere connections. We thrive for long, interesting, and meaningful conversations (so, if you want to talk to me about the stars, the universe, social movements, or something you are passionate about, I’m all there for you). Most of the time when I travel, you won’t find me in a huge group of people. I probably only connected with one or two other travelers in the hostel. But after my stay I ususally know those people, and some are still my friends today!

Traveling is also a way to learn. To learn to be more open, to start conversations and to be more self-confident. Traveling is a way to grow. Give us, give me, a chance, and don’t misunderstand. Traveling is also a way to learn that no matter how hard you try, there will always be someone who disagrees with you, and there is nothing you can do about it. People are different, have different opinions and you don’t have to be friends with everyone. You can’t stand that person? You’ll meet someone else. Don’t be afraid to fail, to not make friends or to be lonely while you travel. You won’t. You will find people you like and people you feel comfortable with.

Sometimes it’s hard to make the first step, to get out into the world and travel. It is always a new adventure for me, and it is never effortless. But in the end, I don’t regret it. Isn’t that what traveling is all about? To go beyond oneself?


Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? What are your experiences while traveling?

20 Comments

  • Sarah

    ein richtig schön geschriebener Artikel, liebe Kathrin! Erklärt deine Person und Sichtweise richtig gut und es macht hoffentlich vielen Mut, die Angst davor haben, auf Reisen allein zu bleiben und niemanden kennenzulernen 🙂 und diesen Typ, den du beschrieben hast, den Exteovertierten – ich glaube, jeder von uns kennt so jemanden 😀 Da musste ich etwas schmunzeln…

    • kathrinhaelbich

      Dankeschön Sarah! 🙂 Freut mich, dass dir der Artikel gefallen hat

  • Megan

    Yes, yes and yes! I just visited my friends and family back home after spending eight months in Italy. I found myself telling them over and over the story of my favorite park bench. 🙂 Three cheers for the quiet, contemplative and nourishing moments that don’t often make it on the travel brochures.

  • Stefan

    Oh FFS people like that “oh what I’ve done is so much bigger better wetter etc” why can’t people just be a bit humble with their travel achievements? lol I like to think I’m like you and certainly don’t need to shout about it to the entire globe!

  • Erica

    Some days I’m a complete extrovert, but majority of the time especially now that I’m in my late 20’s, I’ve been more of an introvert for sure. Traveling as an introvert, I do like my private quiet time. Some things I just enjoy doing alone. For instance, I very much enjoyed the fact that I explored the temples of Angkor all by myself. It was such a spiritual experience for me and I don’t think it would have been the same if I went with other people.

    • kathrinhaelbich

      Some things need to be discovered alone I guess!

  • Claudia

    I love this post. I can recognise myself in everything you say. I am an introvert too. People think of me as arrogant. I am not. Like you… I just need my time to let go and feel comfortable and I also can’t stand chit chat. I like nice, deep conversation that are meaningful. I enjoy sitting by myself, with a book and my cup of coffee. And I also like eating out on my own. I like my own company 🙂

    I was on a trip recently. A huge trip – a group of 50 people. All the mayhem truly drained my energy. Each time we had a meal (aka 3 times per day!) I felt uneasy. On the last day of the trip, there was a huge party in a fancy place and all I could think of was getting back to my room, read my book, get on my computer and chat to my friends. I made some good friends on that trip – those who could scratch beneath my tough surface. The rest will remain nice acquaintances.

    • kathrinhaelbich

      Totally agree with you, I always feel a bit exhausted after interacting with huge groups too. And I think those few people we really interact with, will sometimes become lifelongs friends 🙂

  • Carol Colborn

    I am half-half. There are times I want to be boisterous in a party, especially if my party-mates are very dear friends. There are times I want to be alone, especially when I do not know anyone in a place. So when I travel, I usually keep to myself and close to my husband.

  • Andrea Leblang

    I love how honest you are about yourself in this post. That can be really hard! It’s also very brave of you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Keep it up – I think your personality is refreshing in a world of so many loud voices 🙂

    • kathrinhaelbich

      thank you so much for your kind words! I think getting out of your comfort zone is what makes you grow.

  • Brianna

    We all experience the world differently. Never let anyone make you feel less for being yourself.

  • Mel Jones

    I don’t consider myself an introvert but I definitely relate to people making you feel weird about travelling alone. It’s this weird judgemental tone that follows on from that as the conversation goes on, I hate that! I think it’s great that you are getting out there into the world and challenging yourself even though you are not naturally extroverted. You’ll help a lot of people that feel the same way with this post. You go girl! 😉

    • kathrinhaelbich

      thank you!

  • Meg Jerrard

    So glad to hear that you’re traveling nevertheless Kathrin. And thankyou for such an honest post – it’s really been eye opening for me as an extrovert to see traveling through your eyes. Though I do relate with some of the things you say, and I also really enjoy going to a cafe to be by myself and soak in the atmosphere sometimes. People look at me like I’m an alien too sometimes when I say I enjoy doing those things alone, but you know what, “alone” doesn’t always have to translate to mean “lonely”.

    • kathrinhaelbich

      that’s so true! thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂

  • Mar

    M definitively an extrovert but I travel mostly with an introvert friend of mine. He’s ok with me because we know each other really well and have traveled together a lot but I see him being the quiet one always so I appreciate he needs time alone and to himself which I’m happy to give him. It’s not easy so kudos to you for making the effort and enjoying it!

  • Maria

    My partner and I talk about this a lot, I’m 100% extrovert and she is 100% introvert, it’s an interesting thing to see in action while travelling. As an extrovert I’m only really happy when I’m out and about, chatting with people and meeting them whereas she is the polar opposite, like you said she enjoys interacting but not always.

    It’s a funny balance to find!

    • kathrinhaelbich

      I think it gets easier the better people know each other. And wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?

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