When I did my first long-distance hike, I was still super inexperienced and walking a ten-day trail called the Kerry Way in Southern Ireland. Along the way, I met a few other—definitely more skilled—hikers. To my surprise, some of them decided to take a rest day in the 3rd stage of the trail. The rest decided to keep walking. Me, completely naive, didn’t think it was necessary to follow the first group’s example and wanted to keep up with the fierce, seemingly unstoppable hikers. How hard could this possibly get?
O boy, was I wrong. The weather soon changed for the worse, and I realized the trail was getting tougher each day. And now it was also too late to rebook my expensive accommodation for the next 7 days. So I kept moving. After days of rain and wind, I finally made it back to Killarney. As I dragged myself into town, my whole body felt sore and my feet were covered in blisters, but I made it!
You may be thinking, what does this have to do with introversion? I came here to read about that, not about your silly Rocky Balboa moment in Ireland.
Well, here it is.
The point is, I didn’t know when it was time to take a break. Not just physically, but also mentally. Even though it was a great experience, and I pushed my potato self beyond my own limits, it definitely would’ve been better for me if I had planned a rest day, and allowed myself to catch my breath every now and then. To recharge.
As they say, everything in moderation. And travel is no exception.
Traveling can be challenging for us introverted travelers because we’re exposed to a lot of stimuli that our brain simply can’t process all at once. Take hostels for example. Introverted people can have the time of their life and make some great friends in the busy common rooms. It can be amazing, but also a bit of a nightmare. After days of too much social interaction, we become cranky and irritable, simply because there’s no opportunity for us to restore our energy.
In an extroverted world, it’s so important that introverts know themselves well.
I love being around extroverted people, because they are often easy to talk to and actually make me feel more spontaneous. Of course, I desperately wanted to keep up with them and not miss out on anything. But this meant I was always tired.
I didn’t know what introversion was, so I didn’t understand why I was constantly feeling overwhelmed. Why I needed alone time to feel like myself again. To say it plain and simple, I didn’t know myself well enough to know when I needed a break. Once again, I was scrambling up the mountain in Ireland, tracing the other hikers’ footsteps.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries
Boundaries are essential, and not just when travelling. Try not to get persuaded or peer pressured into doing things when a time-out is what you really need. (I know—this is harder than you’d think!) As with everything, setting the bar too high and creating unrealistic expectations is not gonna do you any good in the long run. All of the above is of course based on my own perspective and it’s certainly not how all introverted travelers may feel or think. Everyone has to discover for themselves what their boundaries are, I myself still do this on a daily basis. I think that’s why it’s so important to tune into your introversion and learn to recognize the signs.
It’s definitely more fun to travel when you’re feeling good, and rested, and at peace. So just enjoy the journey instead of racing to the finish line, take a break, establish some boundaries. It doesn’t make your journeys any less magical—it just means you’ll avoid a blister or two on the way.
Over the past few years, I’ve slowly learned how to combine travel and being an introvert. In my last post, you can read about some tips that have really helped me enjoy my travels even more!