Get out of your comfort zone:
For introverts, our comfort zone usually does not involve anyone else. At home, we see our few close friends (but sometimes not very often). We go to work and chat with the people we need to. But many of us would be very comfortable in our office with the door closed. People are fine: in limited quantities.
For a solo travel vacation, get out of that comfort zone. Take a vacation that is going to put you in close contact with some people you do not know. How much of this you do is going to depend on you. Remember that introverts lose energy when they are around other people. That energy comes back when we are alone. Some introverts will “re-energize” faster than others.
Here are some ways you can put yourself in contact with others:
Â· Join a tour group. When you spend a week traveling to multiple places, you will find yourself with built in “friends.” You still get your private hotel room to recharge, but you will spend your days touring place with the same people.
Â· Take a cruise. Even on the largest ships, you still run into the same people frequently. People develop habits and you will quickly see the same people sunning themselves in the same spot every day. Cruise ships also offer dining with other people. Sign up for a table that seats 10. Even if you do not spend the day with these people, it can be fun for everyone to share their adventures over dinner.
Â· Take day tours. Nearly every place you go will have someone offering tours for anything from an hour up to 10. Sign up for one and spend the day with new people.
Â· Really get out of your comfort zone and try something like skydiving, bungee jumping, or parasailing. You will find others in the “class” beforehand. And most people (even introverts) will want to talk about their adventure afterward.
Chat with new people:
As an introvert, I am not focused on people. My Dad is because he is an Extravert. We were recently on vacation together and stepped off an elevator. I watched as he scanned the room for someone to talk to. He locked on to someone and suddenly they were in conversation.
If you try a solo vacation to a theme park you will find that it is easy to chat with others. You usually spend a significant part of your day waiting in line. That gives you the perfect opportunity to say hello to the people standing around you. About 10 years ago, I visited Busch Gardens in Tampa with a friend. We met a girl about our age in line. She was traveling alone, and we all got along. We spent the rest of the day together. It developed into a long-lasting friendship.
Guys, there is an interesting phenomena that occurs at Walt Disney World. At the end of the day, crowds of people are packed onto buses back to the resorts. You can watch men who are visiting with their wife and kids. They are searching the bus for other men to talk with. It is not that they are not very happy with their family, but they need the male companionship. They want to talk about sports, hunting, fishing, and how much money the trip is costing them. It is the perfect chance for a new chat.
Take a class or join a meetup group:
In most places that you travel, you can find classes in a wide variety of subjects. Visiting New Orleans? Take a cooking class to learn about Cajun and Creole food. You may be partnered up in the kitchen with a local or another traveler. There are exercise groups, yoga groups, meditation groups… the list goes on and on.
Look at web-sites such as www.meetup.com You can find groups that are meeting for everything from hiking to business networking.
For introverts, one of the best things about these groups and classes is that there is no requirement to return (or even to stay the entire time). If you are not enjoying yourself, you can always leave. There is no commitment.
Spend time in social spaces (ie. coffee shops or a hotel lobby):
Extraverts flock to places like coffee shops and hotel lobbies. As an introvert, it always made me wonder why someone was reading a newspaper in the lobby of a hotel. He rented a room, why isn’t he up there? Well, if he’s an extravert, he is getting his energy from being around all the activity.
I met one of my best friends in a Starbucks. We both were there every day at about the same time. We started talking. It was slow at first, but eventually we were spending hours talking.
When you are traveling on a solo vacation, coffee shops and lobbies are great places to get some information about the place you are visiting. You can talk to locals at the coffee shop: ask questions about their city. At the very least, you may find a great restaurant that you did not know about.
Immerse yourself in the local culture:
One of the great things about the world is how diverse we are. Even within countries, you will find areas that are nothing like where you come from. In the west and southwest, go visit a rodeo. In a large city, check out the districts that people from certain cultures populate.
For example, many cities have a Chinatown. But Prague has a wonderful Jewish Quarter. Jersey City has India Square. These areas are often host parades and festivals. Take a trip to one and talk to people. Most people are proud of their heritage and just by talking to people you can learn a lot.
Again, for introverts, there is no obligation. If you go to a festival and find that the crowds are too much for you, get out of there. Or maybe back off a bit: get off the most crowded street and find the more mellow area.
If festivals really are not your thing, just visit these areas on a regular day. It is very easy to remain in the “tourist areas” of Paris. But if you wander away from the major attractions, you might just have the true Parisian experience. Stop in little produce stores. Buy some of the same bread that everyone else is buying. Don’t forget the wine! Ask questions and again, people will be happy to share part of their lives with you.