You don’t see a lot of travel industry marketing aimed at introverts and loners. Tourism advertising shows crowds of people enjoying luxury hotels, beautiful pools, crowded beaches, sumptuous buffets…and a lot of group activities. Bus tours, game night, dance lessons.
Tour operators focus a lot on group activities. It’s their job to show everyone a good time and give the guests what they paid for, so of course they will offer activities that appeal to the majority. Hotel packages are for a minimum of two guests and anyone travelling alone faces the dreaded “single supplement”, which I’ve always viewed as a fine for having the temerity to travel alone.
A tourism ad targeted for people who prefer isolation is not something you often see. No hotel brochure boasts “enjoy a week of being completely alone at our almost unknown location!” I, however, would be very interested in such a hotel because for me, travel is more about an opportunity to see places and things, not people.
Many who travel for a living will say that meeting the locals and experiencing the culture firsthand is what motivates them. I wish I could do that, but I have too much anxiety to easily mingle with strangers. I belong to that sect of humanity who view a game of charades at a resort’s activity night as a reason to spend the night in my room. I cringe with embarrassment listening to tour guides try to be funny over bus intercoms and am way to risk-adverse to book any adventure tourism package.
Here’s my idea of a perfect vacation. Driving to my destination alone with everything I need in a napsack. Reserving a cottage, apartment, or a small room at a 3 star hotel with basic amenities. Spend my days visiting open air markets, bookstores, art galleries and museums – especially weird museums. Sit in a park in the evening with a tea to write in my journal and people watch. For dining I try to find takeout, outdoor patios or places with a cafeteria-style setup instead of a formal dining room where sitting alone makes you conspicuous.
Being a socially anxious introvert and a highly sensitive person doesn’t exactly make me the life of any party. I don’t drink and have zero ability to engage in small talk. I’m not a total recluse – I can talk to people if they talk to me first but engaging with people, even family, for any length of time is very tiring for me and I need a quiet space to recharge very quickly. So yes, I will say hello, and might even chat for a minute two – maybe even make you laugh – but don’t try to grab my arm and pull me into a conga line.
Some look askance at solo travel, but for a loner, solitary travel is glorious. No sharing a bathroom. No compromising how you will spend your day. I can walk into a bookstore and stay until I am ready to leave and no one is rolling their eyes or pushing me to leave.
So this is my travel blog for all the introverted and anxious travellers – I know I’m not the only one out there.
Coming soon: driving to PEI, my first AirBnB reservation and panicking on a roundabout.