8 Tips for Surviving Group Travel when you’re an Introvert (or Solo Traveler)

No way, you’re not an introvert! But you’re so open. Are you sure?

If you’re an introvert, you’ve likely heard that phrase or something similar before. But you know the truth — being around large groups of people can be draining and you need your alone time to regroup.

If you love to travel, you’ve likely encountered small and large group trips. While I tend to travel to certain places on my own, there are times where traveling with a group is safer, more practical or the only option.

Introverts make great solo travelers because we’re perfectly content to be on our own, but when a great group trip is available, don’t shy away from visiting a new destination.

I work on my startup, Official Coupon Code, as a “digital nomad.” This year so far, I’ve taken group trips to Antarctica, the Arctic, Morocco and Bhutan — all of these have been group trips which I’ve taken on my own.

Here are 8 tips to survive and enjoy group travel when you’re an introvert or solo traveler (or both!):

  1. Start with a small group and ideally one where people share common interests. While your first instinct might be to find a large group where you can become invisible, I’ve had more fun with smaller groups that all share a common interest. For example, if you love photography, you can find a photo specific trip with about 15 people. This may not be an option if you’re headed to a place like the Galapagos, but you could try to find one of the smaller ships available and book through a niche agency like National Geographic. If there aren’t any trips available that tie in to a favorite hobby, pick a destination that might bring other commonalities — people who love traveling to places off the beaten path, people who love to scuba dive, etc.
  2. Arrive a day early, especially if you are traveling far or joining a trip that’s taking you a bit off the grid. This does two things for you — one, it allows you to have a failsafe in case your baggage arrives late, and two, it gives you a day to spend on you own before joining the group. You can use the time to explore on your own or even just hang out at the hotel and get a massage or get some work done. The point of this day is that you have a day after being around a ton of people (airplanes & airports), and a day before you have to be “on” when meeting everyone in the group you’ll be traveling with.
  3. Pack headphones. I bring two pairs — one set of noise cancelling headphones, and another small, regular pair. You’ll want the noise cancelling ones for the plane ride and to go into your own little world at times, but the regular ones can come in handy if you don’t want to send a “leave me alone” message on the bus or car rides. On my trip to Morocco, quite a few of us used the noise cancelling ones on the long rides so that we could have our “alone” time.
  4. Quickly form your own small group. Try to find a couple of people who you click with on the trip early on and escape with them when you can. Whether it’s breaking apart from the larger group during free time, or just sitting with them at dinner, feeling like you are part of a small group within the large one will make the trip far more enjoyable.
  5. Bring a kindle or book. Depending on where your trip takes you, you may have long rides from city to city. If you don’t want to put headphones on, you can always read for a while to escape and tune out. Don’t miss out on seeing the sights between cities, but diving into a book for a little while can provide a burst of energy before the next stop.
  6. Be among the first to leave group dinners. In order to survive a group trip as an introvert, it’s important to have some alone time. You can’t have FOMO (fear of missing out) and accomplish this, so pick a night or a few nights and go to your room on the early side instead of staying till the very end of dinner. Head back and read or watch a movie for a while to regroup for the next day.
  7. Bring a camera, but remember to look up. Looking through a camera lens can pull you from the chaos around you and into a quiet moment. Be careful though — if all you ever do is look through a camera, you often miss the big picture of what’s happening around you. Having a camera is also a good way to connect with locals — saying hello and asking if you can take their picture can help you enjoy the experience by creating relationships along the way. I’ve moved to a Fuji X-Pro2 for shooting photos of people since it looks a bit less “professional” than a typical Nikon or Canon camera, which often puts locals more at ease.
  8. Facetime your BFF, or find other ways to make cheap calls. Introverts tend to have a small group of close friends, and those are the people who can bring you down a notch. Having a video chat with your BFF brings something familiar back while you’re away. If video isn’t an option, Facetime audio works really well on WIFI or you can usually call for a low per minute price if you buy an international data plan (the plan I use on ATT drops my rate to $0.35/minute for calls). If you’re on a ship, it’s often much cheaper for friends to contact you on the satellite phone instead of you calling them. Once you know your typical schedule, let your friends or family know how to reach you and have them surprise you with a call.

So whether you’re an introvert or just traveling on your own, follow my tips to have a fantastic adventure. You’ll laugh next time someone tells you how brave you are for traveling by yourself…

Have other tips? Let me know.

Need some coupons & deals on hotels, car rentals or travel clothes & gear, check out my websites, Official Coupon Code and Official Coupon Code Canada. Want to give back a bit? Check out my newest site, FACT goods, which features cool clothing & accessories that help raise money for cancer & other types of research.