Since I decided to go on hols, I've been reading a fair few travel sites. Eventually, your average travel blogger will post about how to travel as an introvert - and every time they get it so wrong.
As anyone who knows anything knows, being an introvert doesn't mean you are shy or socially uncomfortable. It means that being around other people for long periods of time drains you. Introverts want to be alone. You can be the most outgoing person in the world and still be an introvert. You can be socially awkward and still be an extrovert.
So when someone says that they are introvert but they learned to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger in the hostel kitchen and ended up with a travel companion for the day, they are so completely off the mark about what an introvert is that they should just shut up and go back to writing posts on how you don't have to tip in Europe and other blatantly obvious stuff.
I read an interesting article the other day (and I didn't bookmark it or save so I can't link to it here) about how introverts and extroverts have different brain wiring. There is actually physical differences in the brain. That means while extroverts get all the good, happy brain chemicals from social interaction, introverts get none. At the same time, introverts are much more aware of and sensitive to their surroundings. Their brains and their senses are constantly attuned to all that is going. Any sensory stuff is much stronger if you are an introvert.
When I read that, I started to make sense of why it's so hard for me to commute to work. The train ride is a constant assault on my senses at all levels - the massive, unscreened windows in a country with extremely harsh sunlight, the idiots screeching at each other and playing loud music, the stink of someone bogging into a full-on dinner, the push of people squeezed against you -- and sometimes touching you with their HAIR!
I get to the point where I will almost vomit on a peak hour train from the pain of it all but I've developed a bunch of mechanisms to help me cope - using flexible work hours to avoid the worst of it and wrapping myself in a bubble to escape the rest. It's not foolproof but it helps me survive.
Travel for introverts isn't about learning to become someone you aren't wired to be. It's about getting out of your comfort zone but not so far out that you have a shitty time. It's about knowing yourself and working out the best travel plans to ensure you enjoy yourself.
The best bit about being a travelling introvert is that you are already comfortable with your own company. You aren't going to start crying like a little bitch because you have to eat a meal alone or entertain yourself on a long train journey. Enjoying your own company, that's where you're a viking!