Browsing Tag

solo

Advice

6 Important Travel Tips for Introverts

Traveling abroad can be a thrilling, life-changing experience, providing you the opportunity to immerse yourself in new cultures and unforgettable locations. But for those of us who consider ourselves introverts, traveling abroad can also present challenges when it comes to social interactions and jumpstarting relationships that will make your adventure that much richer.

That’s why we’re here to help! We’re here to give you some travel ideas and inspiration for introverts like you. Read on for more information on these different travel tips and get ready to plan your next trip today!

Pack Only Enough That You Can Carry Comfortably

Let’s begin with a little common sense. If you’re an introvert and you want to travel, you’re likely to be traveling alone, right? If that’s the case, consider only packing enough stuff that you can carry comfortably. You don’t want to be that person who steps out of the airport in Dublin or Tokyo or Johannesburg with three pieces of luggage in tow needing help getting it all in your next mode of transportation. Not only does it draw unwanted attention, it’s just inconvenient.

Invest in a high quality backpack and travel as minimally as possible. If you have everything in one place, that’ll make it easier to access and harder to lose. Furthermore, it will keep you light, mobile, and comfortable — giving you one less thing to worry about.

Don’t Stress Over Where To Eat

Crowded restaurants can be an introverted traveler’s worst nightmare. The good news is that it’s easy enough to avoid super-busy pubs and restaurants, especially in bigger cities — and often, cafes and restaurants that are off the beaten-tourist-path are much more representative of local cuisine and culture.

In most countries, you don’t need to worry about the stigma of ‘eating alone’, since there will be little doubt that you’re a tourist; except the fact that the people with whom you’re interacting, from the server to the cashier, know you’re not a local and embrace it. Be polite, smile, and do your best to make eye contact — these are actions that transcend any language barrier.

Choose Structured Activities for Social Interaction

While you may be an introvert, it’s safe to say that you are not completely antisocial. Human beings do need to have contact with other human beings occasionally. This isn’t as much of a paradox as you may think. There are structured activities that you can take part in as a tourist that don’t require you to have conversations you might not want to have, but still provide you with social presence.

Guided tours are a great way to experience this, whether it’s at a modern art museum or a tour bus going around a city that shows you all the sights. Other options include brewery and wine tours, as well as tours that go from city to city around a particular country.

Learn Key Phrases

A great tip for any traveler, especially introverts, is to learn a few key phrases in the native language of wherever you’re traveling: ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘pardon me’. No matter where you go in the world, if you’re able to nail down these five key phrases during your flight, you’ll have the basic tools to communicate in any potential interaction.

As an introvert, you’re probably hoping to avoid interactions, but traveling abroad requires a lot of basic negotiations, from booking a train ticket to ordering lunch. If you find yourself sitting alone at a bar having a drink, keep in mind: you’re not obligated to talk to anyone who tries to strike up a conversation with you. Simply smile and say, ‘no, thank you.’

Find Ways To Let People Know You’re Busy

There are ways to let people know (without being rude, of course) that you’re not available for chit-chat. In the 21st century, there’s always the tried and true method of looking busy by checking your phone, scrolling through emails or text messages, or popping in your earbuds and putting on your sunglasses.

While it’s always good practice to make an effort to converse, when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or experiencing particularly intense anxiety, your electronic devices can be helpful tools to get you through the episode.

Keep a Travel Journal

This last one is simple: keeping a journal can help you recall all of your trip’s experiences, both good and bad. This isn’t just good self-therapy, but it also can act as a sort of guide for your future trips that you take on your own, allowing you to do the kinds of things you enjoy and avoid the kinds of things that lead to unwanted interaction or discomfort.

Those are a few tips for traveling when you’re an introvert. Keep them in mind when you’re buying your next ticket!

 

Advice Journal Latin America Solo Travel

Why I’ve Decided to Travel Solo to Argentina

Ever since I began considering traveling solo to Buenos Aires in late August, my mind has been flooded with questions: Where will I stay? Will I be safe? How will I get from the airport to my accommodations? Will I make any friends? What if I’m robbed? Who will be my in case of emergency contact? The list goes on.

My sentiment towards the upcoming trip often swings from emotion to emotion–at times feeling like I can take on the world and at other moments causing me to question my sanity. Of all the questions swirling around, the most prevalent happens to be the simplest: Why am I going?

I’m often met with mixed responses when people hear of my upcoming adventure to Buenos Aires. Some mirror back reassurance that I’ll be just fine and will have the time of my life, while others are not quite sure what to make of my latest endeavor. There are many factors that have gone into my decision to travel solo to Argentina; but the simplest answer is: I am an aspiring travel writer.

My dad used to tell me that “between saying and doing, the ocean is in between,” it was a quote he would say to remind me that words are just that unless backed by action. In the months since I’ve started The Pin the Map Project, I have explored ways to take my blog to the next level and have reached out to various travel agencies, tour operators, brands and fellow writers to help lead the way. An opportunity to fly down to Buenos Aires, meet with local tour agencies, review accommodations and tours and write about the experience has all led me to turn words into action and plan a trip to Argentina. While the opportunities are a major factor in my decision to venture below the equator, I also realized that traveling solo is something I need to experience and embrace if I am to seriously pursue travel writing.

In many ways, the life of a travel writer seems to be idyllic–there are press trips to exotic locations, complimentary tours of iconic cities and supportive readers following the adventures along the way. Yet, travel writers are often on the road alone relying on their street smarts, wit and people skills to mark the difference between a miserable or wonderful time abroad. Having always traveled with a companion or gaggle of friends, I have never traveled alone to a destination and had to rely solely on myself.

This upcoming trip to Buenos Aires will be my first travel writing adventure (and hopefully not my last). Rather than heading on a personal vacation and finding stories along the way as an afterthought, I will be heading to a different country for the sake of stories and opportunities to further my writing and this website. While practical and emotional questions will always swarm the idea of solo traveling, the most important of all of them is to know why you’re taking this trip and to fiercely stand behind that answer–whatever it may be.

Save

Save

Advice Journal Solo Travel

Why You Should Travel Solo

I always travel alone. I go away for a weekend with a friend, and have spent the odd week abroad with my family in the past twelve months, but when I travel for an extended period, I go it alone. And it’s great.

However, this information is generally met with disbelief, and the following questions:

Won’t you get lonely?
I stay in hostels where I am surrounded by other travellers who are generally my age, friendly, and also happy to meet new people. At the bar or at breakfast, people chat to each other. Often I go out for the day with someone I’ve met in a hostel, and if we are heading on the same route, we might travel together for a while. I met a Dutch guy in Havana, with whom I travelled across Cuba for four weeks; in Cusco (Peru) I met a group of French people who I explored Southern Peru with for about two weeks; in Foz Do Iguacu (Brazil) I met a Mexican girl, who I later met up with in Buenos Aires. We travelled north through Argentina together. And on the Salt Flats in Bolivia, I got on well with the girls in my jeep. You just need to be chatty!

The benefit of travelling solo is that you can choose whether to be alone or not. Occasionally if you are tired or jet lagged, it’s nice to be by yourself. Then when you feel like some company, say ‘Hi!’ to the person in the bunk above/below/next to you, and ask them about themselves. People often have great stories, they might be from a country you’ve never been to, and they can be interesting to talk to. Being by myself means I don’t risk leaving my friend out by talking to someone else, and it encourages me to mingle more than I probably otherwise would.

Aren’t you scared? Of going to a new country? Of the unknown?
No, that is why I choose to travel. Things can of course go wrong, so I make sure I am well prepared, but I think it is exciting to set off by myself!

Isn’t (insert South American capital city here) really dangerous, especially for women?
Crime happens all over the world, even at home, and if you read what the Foreign Office says, you will never go anywhere. I am not going to let my gender, or anything else I cannot control, dictate what I do. That said, I use my common sense and do not go out alone late at night, and I try to dress how the local women dress. (How you dress should not effect how people treat you, but most developing countries are sadly yet to have had a feminist movement). Being a victim of crime is one argument against travelling alone, however I am careful and take necessary precautions.

Why don’t you go with a tour group, so they can sort out any problems?
Because I like to do things myself. While solving problems can sometimes be stressful, generally it is very rewarding and I come home from a solo trip feeling like nothing can scare me! (Apart from parallel parking, that always will.) Many a time have I bargained hard with a taxi man, argued with someone that has tried to rip me off, and answered back to sexist heckling in the street. Anybody can. Unlike being part of a tour group, being alone means I can do whatever I feel like. There is always part of a tour that is less interesting to you than the rest; I cut out the parts I don’t want to do, and I don’t have to check if anyone minds.

Travelling solo offers me complete freedom. If I arrive in a new city and I find that I don’t like it, I can book a bus the following day and go somewhere else. If I have a craving for a random food, I can spend all evening strolling, searching for the right restaurant without the other person getting bored. If I want to sleep in, I have nobody telling me that I am wasting their day.

In my view, being solo only presents benefits, and the way I travel offers me plenty of opportunity to be with people. Try it for a short trip first and you will see how brilliant it is.

 

 

Save

Europe Journal

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage

It’s been over a week since I’ve been back from my walk and into ‘reality’ mode I now find myself reflecting on my thoughts and where I stand at this very moment in my life. Bare with me…

What did this walk mean to me? Did I ‘find myself’? Did I find my purpose? Did I solve third world problems? Well, truthfully, no.

I felt like I had to do the Camino to allow myself to just reflect and organize my thoughts. First off I knew who I was, which is why I did this walk. I knew I was going to finish, because I am a big believer in doing what you say. I wasn’t looking for anything I didn’t already know (kind of).

This what learned…

It takes a certain type of individual to walk alone on el Camino de Santiago. You don’t do this walk for ‘pleasure’ (although some do). You do it to reflect and think. Not everyone can actually physically do it, because it isn’t an easy walk. Especially when you do it alone. When you’re tired and want to just go to bed, the only person pushing you, is you.

Connection and Connecting with People.

I met people with stories, and goals, dreams, and hopes. All of which I know I have too. I met people in el Camino that I connected with immediately. Even people that didn’t speak the same language, when you connect, you just connect. There is something special about meeting a stranger and just ‘connecting’. I can truly say I made friendships that will last me a lifetime. One night as I sat alone at dinner, a complete stranger sat down with me and joined me. He was walking alone too and he just asked to sit and have dinner with me. He said he learned something that day. He said he learned  ‘balance’.

Balance…
is accepting the things we cannot change and learning to move forward. Life always has balance. Whether we ‘get it’ or not, it is what it is. Things go wrong in life, to some more than others, but it all happens for a reason. It’s how you learn to deal with it and move forward that makes you different from the rest. What this man said, seemed to have stuck with me. Simply because I know it’s an internal conflict I hold.

This walk allowed me to put all my thoughts out into the world and to ‘figure it out’. Something I don’t do very often without the interruption of friends, family, work, computer, social life, etc. I met another man who was walking el Camino for the 3rd time! He explained that though I may not find the answers to life’s hard questions on the Camino, that I would find them as soon as I got back to reality.

Doubting myself.
Six days into my walk, I found myself in serious pain. Four blisters on the bottom of my feet, and actual foot pain. I also found myself sitting in a friend’s bathroom crying, asking myself what I had done. Then I realized that I am not superhuman and that this wasn’t going to be easy. This I already knew – but I needed to remind myself of it consciously.

Camino de Santiago is something I wanted to do. It is something I chose for good reason. After I was done crying, I laughed it off and told myself that I am going to finish. (To be fair I owe a thank you to a special someone who also helped me realize that. You know who you are.)

The most important thing I realized is that I often doubt myself and my capabilities to do what I desire. I shouldn’t. I quit my job in NYC because it felt right. I came to Europe because it’s what I wanted. I think we all have moments of doubt – which is normal – but that we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. Don’t you agree?

Contentment.
This is hard for most people. Being happy with what you have is a challenge, many of us are afraid of even reflecting on.

The Camino reminded me of what I have. The essentials. I started the Camino with a list of items, but I didn’t need them. I finished with what I needed. I felt content not wearing make up. In fact, I felt pretty! I was happy with only owning three shirts. Only carrying what I could. I felt proud.

As I mentioned in my earlier posts (before I left), I wasn’t sure why I was doing this. It was something I felt I had to do. When I met people who asked me why I was on el Camino and what I did with my life, I always smiled. I felt like a gypsy and there is no better feeling than being free.

Homesick.
Yes. That’s right, I said it, homesick. I was. I realized how much I missed my own bed. I slept in rooms of 20+ people and I woke up every 2-3 hours. I woke up every morning to the noise of other pilgrims getting ready to walk. I missed my shower and my bed. But most of all, I missed my family.

I constantly get asked how I just pick up and go places. How can I just leave my family and go? And to be honest, for those who know me, know that family is everything for me. So whilst it may look easy, it is in fact tough for me. I am proud to say that although my family might not agree with everything I do, they still stand behind my madness.

Okay, here come the big ones…

Time.

I hold this one dear to my heart. If you really think about it, it is all we ever have. Time. It is the most IMPORTANT component of our lives. I met people on el Camino who had deadlines because they had flights, buses, or trains to catch back home to get back to their reality. I actually didn’t have a deadline, because I don’t work for anyone.

I found myself slowing down and sincerely appreciating my walk. Realizing that my life was always in constant motion and I’ve never ‘stopped’ to just breathe. I’ve missed a lot of time, and I’ve wasted time on things that I cannot change. Once that time is gone, its gone. We are truly here on borrowed time. How do I want to spend it?

Lastly, Happiness. And the courage to live in happiness. Most of us live in fear -actually all of us do, including myself. The fear of the unknown and the fear of failure.

I am not as scared as I thought I’d be. I always think about the worse case scenario, and if I realize my decision won’t hurt me or anyone else, then why not! As I mentioned above, we live on borrowed time, yet our biggest problem is that we think we have time! And we truly don’t know how much of it we have left.

I am proud to say that I walked 355km (220miles) to Santiago. I cried and laughed, but I did it. The only thing ever holding me back from doing what I want, was myself.

Each and everyone one of us have a story. A road, a Camino, that we follow. Despite the race, religion or country we come from. We all make a choice to live our lives how we want to. I am happy. I am not looking for myself, because I know who I am.

I’d like to encourage people to look at their lives and decide how they want to live them. Nothing wrong with working in a cubical (if you like it), but for those that don’t, change it. It’s you’re life. Don’t live in fear of ‘the what if’. Just do it.

IF it feels right in your heart and gut (that’s the most important feeling), then grab it and run. Don’t wait for anyone, because anyone who loves you will always support you and never hold you back.

So in short, to answer the question of what I learned while walking to Santiago… I learned that I can do whatever I want this life, because it’s my own. I choose to live it as I please. And I want to live a life I am genuinely proud of.

Save

Save

Save

Top