I’ve been an on and off nomad for about a decade and a half now, moving to Taiwan when I was 21, traveling solo through Asia at 26, and exploring much of the world alone all the way up until now as a 36 year old. The crazy thing is, over that time I went from a bona fide extrovert to an introvert, and the way that I travel solo has changed as a result.
Though I’m introverted, I’m outgoing. I enjoy being social as well as being on my own. To me, introversion relates to the creator of the term, Carl Jung’s, definition. Introverts, Jung said, turn to their own minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs.
These are all the ways that I enjoy traveling solo now as an introvert:
1. I pick group trips but get my own room
Although I love traveling by myself, some trips have to be done with a group unless you’re paying 10x for a private experience, like sailing on a liveaboard dive ship or island hopping through the Galapagos.
But in each of these scenarios, I get my own sleeping space.
Since I recharge on my own, I love being able to have my own space to retreat to whenever I want it. That made this Galapagos trip perfect, as the boat I was on offered single rooms without charging a single supplement fee.
Not every tour makes it possible to have my own space, but I always try to seek out some solitude even on a shared trip.
2. I sign up for day trips so I’ll meet people
When I want a mix, I tend to stay in solo accommodation like a hotel or Airbnb, but I’ll sign up for a day trip so that I still get some social interaction.
The key is that I sign up and pay for it ahead of time, so that I’ll actually go and meet other people when the time comes. I can turn into a hermit with some ease, so I like committing at least a day before!
I equally love being able to come back to my accommodation and be on my own when I want to.
4. I visit places with a common interest
Whether it’s scuba diving, hiking, surfing, yoga, or some other shared interest, if you visit a place that is known for one of these things, chances are very good that you will meet other solo travelers who are there for the same purpose.
I love that this has a built-in network of people who you can easily meet. Even if you’re the shy type, having a common interest to bond over makes it easy to have conversations with people. You’ve already got things in common!
5. I pick trips where I’ll be alone
On the other side of the coin, I often take wilderness trips where I am unlikely to run into anyone else for much of the time. My frequency has increased over the past few years, finding mother nature a perfect companion.
Last summer I solo camped in Lassen Volcanic National Park, spent almost 2 weeks solo truck camping in Utah, almost entirely in the middle of nowhere without people around, and I regularly venture out to the desert by myself to stargaze.
I would not have enjoyed trips like this in my 20s when I was extroverted, because I got my energy from being around other people. But now, truly enjoy solitude. Solo trips make it easy for me to recharge.
6. Consult Facebook groups
Facebook groups are another great way to meet people, even for a brief meet up, which is usually all I want. I created one for solo female travelers, the BMTM Solo Female Traveler Connect, which many women have used to find travel companions over the years.
It can be a regional one based on where you’re going, can be for solo travelers in particular, or any other interest group you might be a part of. I recommend meeting up for a meal, a daytime activity, or something similar that has a fixed time limit and occurs in public.
Tapping into my network of friends of friends has also been a great way to meet others on the road.
7. Make a 1:1 friend
As an introvert, I’m equally happy solo or hanging out with someone whom I get along with well. As long as they’re a good travel companion, I can travel one on one with someone for days or even weeks without feeling energetically zapped.
There have been many people along my solo journey, from sharing a rental car in South Africa with Callum to splitting costs and traveling with Jen in French Polynesia last fall that both worked out great for me.
I’ve also met two awesome women at the start of long hikes in Nepal and Peru that I initially intended to do alone, but was happy to share. Finishing the trip with a hiking buddy, when it’s the right person, often makes it even better.
I meet these people on the road, or through a mutual friend, and we travel together until it’s naturally time to part ways. Then I get my alone time again. I love having this option available.
8. Hang alone in a crowded space
Sometimes, visiting a park, museum, market, or some other populated place on my own feels like enough social interaction for the day. I might strike up a conversation with someone, or I might not. But I can still people watch and get a sense of the local culture. Sometimes it’s even nicer this way, without anyone else to distract me.
I still get out and do things, but there’s no pressure to make it into a social situation. I’m open minded to whoever I might meet, but it’s OK if that doesn’t happen, too.
The best thing about solo travel is the potential for serendipity. I love that I could meet someone at any time at any place, but that I can also enjoy my solitude as well. There’s no pressure. For this introvert, it’s the best of both worlds.