Travel Tips for Introverts
Earlier this month I spent four days in New York City. Most of the time I was enjoying the company of some of the most amazing, creative women that I know. Who knew that I’d make some of the best friends I’ve ever had when I was in my 40s? Not me. I’ll be writing more about that later.
Today I want to share some travel tips for introverts. I’ll tell you a little about what it’s like to travel as an introvert and some of the things that I do to make sure that I get enough quiet alone time to recharge my brain. I wrote about some of the basics three years ago, so I won’t repeat those.
1. Don’t get overwhelmed by art museums (or any other location destination).
Any time that I have a trip planned I always scope out the exhibitions of my destination’s art museums. Since I like to travel without tons of plans — except how to get there and where to stay…I’m not THAT adventurous — art museums are usually the only things on my absolute must-do list.
When I visit a museum I feel so many things. I get inspired and emotionally drained. My brain nearly explodes, in a good way and a bad way, from all the visual stimulation. If there are pieces that I’m particularly looking forward to seeing, there’s a whole emotional side to actually being able to view them in person. It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed there.
I have one rule that helps me enjoy myself in situations where it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t feel like you have to see it all.
No one says that just because a museum (or a bunch of old ruins or the world’s largest shopping mall…) contains a lot of art (or rocks or stores…), you have to see every piece of it. When I walk into a gallery, the first thing I do is scan the room. If a painting or sculpture or drawing doesn’t grab my attention, I don’t go in for a closer look. I only look at the pieces that interest me.
Even with this rule I still get overwhelmed sometimes, when almost EVERYTHING is something I’m interested in, but I released myself of the obligation of seeing it all a long time ago.
Note: I also don’t feel obligated to finish every book I start anymore either. It’s a priceless gift that you can give yourself. Go ahead. Do it.
2. It’s okay to eat cookies in bed.
Just because you’re on vacation doesn't mean that you have to be exploring the entire time. I’m not saying you should go to Italy and never leave your hotel room, I just mean that it’s okay to leave your friends or the noise of the city and take some quiet time alone to meditate or take a nap or just lie in bed and eat French macarons. An hour alone for an introvert to recharge is like an entire pot of coffee for a tired person. When you meet your friends for dinner you’ll have plenty of energy for fun and deep conversations and laughter and tears.
3. Leave some time open to explore your destination on your own.
I used to be a lot more afraid and uncomfortable being alone. I’ll write more about growing up super anxious and how I felt standing alone in Grand Central Station on my recent trip to NYC soon. Now I really enjoy, crave, and need time to be by myself.
During this recent trip to NYC I made sure not only to take some quiet time alone in my hotel room, but also left space in my schedule to explore the city on my own. I almost changed my flight and missed out on some of it though because by the fourth night of my trip I was ready to go home and see my baby little boy and my husband. There’s only so much away-from-them time that I truly enjoy. But I’m glad I had almost an entire day to myself before leaving on an evening flight.
4. Reenter reality in a dark, silent float pod.
On my last day I walked around the city alone snapping photos and experiencing everything in my own head…which is where introverts live and create a lot of the time…which can lead to being overwhelmed by noise and visual stimulation…which leads to necessary time spent in a dark silent float pod…repeat.
I’ve gotten into the practice of scheduling a float every time I come back from a trip or when my guests leave town. It’s the best way to reset and start enjoying all of the amazing creative inspiration that comes from spending time in new places and having great conversations with friends and family.
This story was first published on melaniebiehle.com. For more articles about the creative life and some extra visual inspiration sign up here for The Creative Brief. I send it to subscribers on a monthly(ish) basis.