Recently I was at a farewell party for my brother before he headed overseas and it struck me how different we are – he had over 50 friends there, from all aspects of his life, many of whom could not confidently voice how they knew him.
Holding court in a group this size is the stuff of nightmares for me. I can only deal with one to three people at a time. And all my friends are close friends, no one knows me vaguely.
Here are some of the realities of solo travel and party destinations as an introvert.
Walking into bars or events solo when I don’t know anyone makes me incredibly nervous
Yet for some reason I keep putting myself in this position, telling myself that if it’s awkward I can always leave.
My tactics include:
- Arriving on the early side, meet people as they walk in, who may also be alone and looking lost
- If there’s food, hang out near it so people are forced to talk to you as they approach to get some
But I don’t think I could ever walk into a crowded bar while travelling alone and just strike up a conversation with people.
Solo travel for introverts can mean looking on and quietly observing.
Hostels and tours when travelling solo
I’ve stayed in hostels by myself and while I didn’t make lifelong friends, when I was invited out by room mates, I went and it was (mostly) fun.
Some travel tips for introverts:
- Opt for a girls-only dorm if these are available and is your preference
- Don’t be afraid to speak to reception and ask for a move if your room mates make you feel uncomfortable (been there)
- Chat to people in the common areas, sit with other solo travellers at breakfast, take tours or go on excursions (such as pub crawls) and just strike up conversations with other travellers in general – “where are you from” is always a good starting point
Being told I’m in the hottest club in Europe or the UK fails to turn me on.
I love a glass of wine in the sun but too many people I don’t know can really grate on me and I’m rarely one of the last ones standing when the sun’s coming up the next day.
At the same time, when travelling, and especially when doing so solo, you need to try these things in order to meet people and experience everything. Even when travelling with friends, peer pressure to stay out in the clubs late can mean you’re still out at 3am when you’re long past having fun and just want to go to bed.
Likewise, I go to music festivals but am not social enough (and too old) to be camping on site.
Still visit party destinations and know how to have a good time
In 2010 I did a Contiki around Europe solo. I was one of 6 girls in the same position. This was great as instead of having the same room mate every night for the 12 day tour, we got mixed up at each city and all got to know each other. Three years later I did The Yacht Week Greece and on day one I knew about half my crew (ranging from besties to met once) the day we boarded the yacht.
Both these experiences are known for their partying, as are Full Moon parties in Thailand which I intend to tick off one day also.
I think as I’ve got older I’ve gravitated towards friends with similar energy levels. And when I’m out and no longer having a great time, I leave. Being an adult and ok with doing that is pretty great.