Here are our top destinations for introverts, some travel tips and coping strategies, advice on how to gain confidence and meet new people, and other great ideas for traveling solo as an introvert
Many people think that being an introvert is a synonym for being shy. While it’s true that some introverts are shy, more often than not, it just means they like their own company — spending time alone to relax and recharge. So, how can you pair up that mindset with something that can be overwhelming and chaotic, such as travel? We’re here to give you some ideas.
What are some of the best travel destinations for introverts?
Ljubljana is one of Europe’s smaller capitals: walkable, likable, friendly and relaxed. It treads the line between Slavic and Mediterranean in both attitude to life, and more trivial things like food. This is also true for the rest of the country which, outside the few larger towns, is dominated by mountains and national parks.
The beautiful Lake Bled, the labyrinthine Novo Mesto, and the colorful Piran are easily accessible by public transport, and you could spend weeks camping and hiking in the mountains. It’s even got a tiny sliver of Adriatic coastline to enjoy! Read more about Slovenia in our extended guide.
In a recent study, Denver was named the best US city for introverts. Why? Well, loads of great museums, coffee shops, parks and bookstores, for a start. It’s relatively walkable by US standards, and has fantastic food and arts scenes.
It’s also easy to get out of the city and into the countryside. The Rocky Mountains are within easy reach, even for a couple of hours of alone time, and hiking trails around Red Rocks, or the Flatirons on the southwestern edge of Boulder, are fine even for less experienced walkers. Boulder itself, Denver’s neighbor, is a small, progressive college town with a European feel and a young population.
If you’d like to visit Southeast Asia but can’t bear the thought of cities like Bangkok or tourist favorites such as Bali, Myanmar might be for you. Getting fewer visitors than many other countries in the region, the friendly locals mean you can get a good flavor of the culture without having to put yourself out there too much.
English isn’t widely spoken, particularly outside the cities, but that’s okay as people are generally very helpful and a couple of gestures and a smile will get you a long way. It’s a beautiful country with a fascinating history and culture that’s always front and center, and it doesn’t take much to get involved.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a beautiful city, of that there is no doubt, and it’s good value for money; however, that brings with it large tour groups, bachelor parties and the like. So, how on earth can it be a good place for introverts?
Well, away from the very center, Prague is much calmer. There are shady hillside parks with views across the river, tiny coffee shops and bars that have barely changed in hundreds of years, views that only improve at dawn or dusk, and even outside the tourist hotspots, the level of English is good. Explore areas like Žižkov and Vršovice to find your new favorite haunt.
Generally seen as introverts by nature, the Swiss go about their lives calmly in clean, orderly cities and fresh, vigorous mountain air. It’s not a place a lot of people think of traveling to for pleasure, but that mix of city life and wonderful scenery is a fine combination.
Places like Zürich, Geneva and Bern combine slick modernity with quality museums, good food, friendly cafés and calming parks; while heading into the mountains brings unspoiled nature and some of the most stunning views in Europe. With a mix of languages spoken and the mix of cultures and attitudes that goes with it, if you’re looking for the most stereotypically European trip, Switzerland might just have every box ticked.
What are some positive things about traveling alone?
Traveling alone means you can go at your own pace, do and see what you want to, and gives you the opportunity to say no to things if you start to get overwhelmed. You’d planned to go to that popular bar you’d read about, but just can’t face all those people right now? That’s fine. It’s your trip, your decision.
This brings us to the next point: you don’t have to feel guilty about doing — or not doing — things. Like the above example, no one is forcing you to do anything. You’re in Barcelona. You feel bound to do things a tourist would do — go to the beach, walk along La Rambla — but you’d rather just sit in a park with a book. That’s fine, do that.
Similarly, it’s fine to spend money to make your trip more bearable. Can’t cope with a hostel dorm full of people? If you can afford it, pay for a private room or find a decent budget hotel. Sure, you’ll be paying a bit more, but if it stops you from getting a feeling of dread every time you think about your lodging, what price that peace of mind?
How do I meet people on a solo trip?
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One of the best ways to get to know a city and meet travelers like yourself is to go on a free walking tour. Most larger cities now run these, and they’re very popular with solo travelers for precisely this reason. You’re all in the same situation so you’ve instantly got some common ground, and your guide will be able to recommend some places that aren’t typical tourist traps.
Don’t even worry that you have to start with a clever observation — simply asking for directions or recommendations from that server/hostel worker/bartender might lead to some interesting conversations and interactions.
Indeed, you’ll probably be surprised by how forthcoming locals can be, especially with solo travelers. If you’re genuinely interested, they will be too, and most people like to talk about their city — and themselves!
How do I deal with anxiety when traveling alone?
If you’re worried, stop and make a plan. Even if it’s just knowing where you’re going to stay, having a solid base from which to work is the best first step. Plan around that. This matches with the tip above about giving yourself somewhere pleasant to stay — once you’re happy with that one big thing, you’ll have more mental space to think about the rest of the trip.
Make sure you’ve got a few essentials. They’re not huge or expensive things, but they’ll put your mind at ease. Things like a spare phone charger or power bank, a light raincoat, a padlock, sanitary products, a reusable water bottle, band-aids and such are small and easy to pack, but give you a lot less to worry about.
Also — and we can’t stress this enough — solo travel isn’t for everyone. If you live in, for example, a small city in France, try a long weekend in Prague, London or Rome for your first solo trip, instead of, say, a month in Japan.
Other top tips
- Write a journal about your experience. It’s a nice thing to look back on, and also a nice way of passing the time when you’re alone.
- Get involved in the culture. As mentioned, you’re now a traveler, not a tourist! Learn a couple of phrases in the local language, shop at markets, and find out where the locals go.
- Go where (and when) you want. You’ve got the freedom to get up early to watch the sunrise from the steps of Montmartre before the crowds arrive. If that’s what you want to do, do it.
- Push yourself, but don’t blame yourself. Travel is about new experiences, so try to do new things, but if you genuinely don’t want to do something, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s your trip.
- Take a break. “I need a holiday to recharge after my holiday!” is an all-too-familiar refrain. Allow yourself to relax.
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