Bachelorette weekends; girls’ getaways; maybe even a creative retreat or an excursion with a study abroad program—if the theme song from Jaws plays whenever you envision group travel, this post is for you.
Here’s the thing: You love travel! You love your friends. But you also love alone time. You’re an introvert, and if you’re wondering how to possibly survive a month, two weeks, or maybe even just 24 hours of traveling with a group of people, don’t worry. As a fellow introvert, I’m right there with you.
Traveling solo has its perks, for sure, but so does traveling en masse. Even the most introverted explorer can agree that getting outside of your comfort zone is one of the main reasons to travel, so below I’m sharing a few of my favorite “I can hang with the best of ‘em” tactics. Read on and you’ll be able to equally engage and recharge on your next trip, regardless of who you’re sharing a room with!
Source: Carly Brown
Psych yourself up.
First of all, get excited. You’re about to do something fun! As silly as it may seem, ramping up positive associations with group travel will make the idea of it seem less daunting in the future. Are you celebrating your BFF in Mexico for her 30th? Going wild with a future bride in NYC? Research the heck out of your destination so you’ll be convinced going—even if going with a dozen others —far beats sitting home alone. (Just try not to be the know-it-all of the group. Meter out that newfound knowledge all in good time.)
Clear your schedule.
Pad your days before and after your trip with lots of alone time (and the time you’ll spend packing doesn’t count!). The times I’ve dreaded group travel the most have been when I’ve completed jammed my schedule leading up to and returning from a trip—and without any proper time to decompress. If you gift yourself a night of solitude—maybe with a book and a bubble bath and a nice glass of wine—before hitting the road, you’ll be better prepared to hit the road running… with friends.
Dive in on night one.
Group dynamics are usually established in the first day or two, so there’s some strategy to employ here. Bite the bullet, stay up late, and take the initiative to engage with others as soon as the trip begins. Contrary to popular thought, introverts aren’t antisocial, shy, or awkward—we just take a lot of time to process internally. By putting your intentional foot forward at the start of a trip, you’ll have an easier time hanging back or disengaging later on (when you really need to) and it won’t be read as aloof or exclusive.
Be a peacemaker.
Conflict is inevitable in just about any group setting. Whether over dinner plans, budget needs or sleeping arrangements, where two or more are gathered, opinions make themselves known. The introvert can be especially helpful in tense situations because of our ability to observe and internally process; taking stock of a disagreement before speaking usually prevents emotions from escalating or a great trip to otherwise be ruined due to carelessly spoken words.
As an introvert, you can be the observer, mediator and peacemaker of the group, getting ahead of conflict before it starts. At the beginning of a trip, acknowledge that a group is made of up individuals that therefore will have individual ways of responding to certain things. Set a policy of openness, honesty and reserving judgement so that feelings won’t get stuffed or trampled on. If there is one person who seems to monopolize the decision-making, consider approaching them away from the group first, that way defenses won’t be triggered and reputations can (hopefully) remain in tact.
Source: Carly Brown
Honesty is your safety net.
Likewise, as you get to know those who you’re traveling with, be honest and upfront about how you’re feeling. Introverts are not unicorns; we’re not as rare as we think, and chances are someone else in the group will share at least one of your interests, desires, or feels. Because many introverts can also be major over-thinkers (ahem, yours truly) we sometimes put more pressure on ourselves to act just like everyone else in a group setting. While it’s important to compromise and challenge ourselves to do something different, it’s also OK to stand our ground and be kind, yet clear, on why we may or may not want to do something. Who knows, you may even make another introverted friend in the process!
Employ bathroom etiquette.
There’s no way around it: Sharing a bathroom can be flat out awkward. Especially when traveling, a dose of nerves, a change in sleep schedules and the potential for unfamiliar foods can all cause some major digestion issues—to put it mildly. And having to deal with it all in close, cramped quarters can be recipe for an introvert’s nightmare. A little trick for sequestering your own bathroom time to, uh, take care of business? Shower time. Running water makes for great background noise, and a few drops of eucalyptus oil (in the bowl before you go) will work wonders to erase any trace of you being there.
Source: Lean + Meadow
Sneak in secret moments.
Maybe you need to get up an hour earlier than everyone else just to sip your coffee in silence. Maybe you’ll duck out from dinner early one night to have the Airbnb to yourself. Whatever it is, try to think ahead and forecast where these little solo moments can be found. I’ve even been guilty of volunteering to be the airport shuttle driver for an hour in the car by myself. By peppering your trip with times like these, you’ll be surprised at how less exhausting returning to the group will be. Because with travel, as in life, it’s all about the balance.