Here’s What Travelling Alone As An Introvert Feels Like

Here’s What Travelling Alone As An Introvert Feels Like

Forget all the scary stories you’ve heard outside and listen to a fellow INFJ.

“You travelled alone?”

Yes I did, and to my own surprise too.

Just a few weeks back, I flew abroad for my first solo trip. That probably sounds like an easy decision or just another trip for some, but it was a huge feat for myself. Because I’m an introvert and a huge homebody (no shame!) and even though I love a good adventure, I’ve never been adventurous to the extent of putting myself in a foreign country, alone, for a week.

But I took the plunge and went for it because why not? I’ve heard stories about how solo travelling has changed people’s lives (in a good way), and even more so for introverts. Plus I was in need of some self-reflection and a quick getaway before the mundane year comes to an end. So before I could hesitate for the hundredth time, I booked a ticket to Seoul. And it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my twenty years of life.

Despite a few ups and downs and the initial anxiety I had to overcome, the trip turned out to be amazing… And certainly not what I thought it would be. Here’s what it was like.

It was scary.

I mean, let’s put our introversion aside and consider the idea of being in a foreign country alone. Do the words ‘foreign’ and ‘alone’ not sound intimidating enough? Now for all you introverts: think of all the forced talking you’ll have to do, and the absence of a friend or family member to hide behind or stick with… Yup. The thought of the language barrier and wintery weather I would be facing alone did not help either. All these factors did bother me at first, but eventually, they had me feeling more excited than nervous! As a coping mechanism, I told myself that stepping out of my comfort zone would be an interesting and fulfilling challenge. And it was.

It was rewarding.

I can’t be the only introvert who mentally gives myself a pat on the back for completing tasks like having small talk with someone new, or picking up a phone call. Well, that was what this entire trip felt like: a lot of pats on the back! I felt good knowing I was adjusting to the unfamiliarity of a different country pretty well on my own: ordering food, asking for directions in a different language, etc.

Seeking comfort is what all humans naturally do, but when you will yourself to try new things, you learn more about yourself and that helps you grow. For instance, I found myself being very fickle-minded over where to go and what to do during the first two days, even though I already had a list prepared. It made me realise how comfortable I had been back home, and being out of my warm cocoon of familiarity threw me back a little. So I made a mental note to travel alone more.

There were also random acts of kindness that I couldn’t help but notice, and I made sure to pass them onto others. You become more attentive to these things when you’re alone, and even more so for introverts! I guess that’s why it felt so rewarding.

It was therapeutic.

This goes without saying, no? Letting your mind wander freely, recovering your ‘me’ time, not having to care about what people think of you because you’re basically anonymous in that country… I was fully recharged from just a short amount of time spent in solitude. In fact, I rarely felt lonely. Maybe it’s because my itinerary mainly consisted of introvert-ish activities like sightseeing, reading or people-watching in a cafe and strolling through parks (not to mention these are socially acceptable to do alone). I enjoyed every bit of it though. There’s something about doing your all-time favourite activities in a new environment that’s so refreshing and satisfying… And therapeutic.

But if you feel lonely, that’s totally okay even us quiet ones need a little interaction from time to time! A good way to ensure you maintain a balance is to stay at a hostel, like a lot of other solo travellers do. Personally, I stayed at a female hostel and it was great – the guests spoke to each other but we minded our own business at the same time. What’s more: by the end of the trip, I made two friends whom I keep in touch with until today. It was so easy interacting with them on a one-on-one basis and we had meaningful conversations even though the time we saw each other was short.

It was liberating.

Oh yes it is. I’m sure we can all agree it feels fantastic when you have the freedom to do whatever you want. Sleep in till noon. Splurge on that skincare set. Stay in that one cafe all afternoon or even visit it twice. Nobody can tell you what to do, and guess what, introverts? Nobody can judge you! When you’re alone abroad, you don’t have to hear people go “Did you just waste an entire afternoon away doing nothing at the park?” We’re all masters at entertaining ourselves on our own and it feels liberating not having to pretend that we aren’t.

Conclusion: I would definitely do it again. To all the introverts out there toying with the idea of solo travel, I say go for it. I know it sounds daunting like I mentioned earlier, it is but you’ll thank yourself for saying yes to this huge decision after your trip ends. So go ahead and book those flight tickets you’ve been keeping tabs on, and embark on your journey of healing and self-discovery!

About Author

Teri Anne Tan

If she's not binging on Korean BBQ on a night out with her friends, Teri Anne is most probably at home rewatching Studio Ghibli films or planning her next trip abroad. She loves reading, indulging in clothing hauls, and listening to hits from both K-pop and '80s British Rock. Her ultimate dream? To enjoy a mug of hot chocolate under the Northern Lights in Iceland.

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