Confessions Of An Introverted Traveller

Travel is usually seen as something joyful and happy… And it is… I personally love it. And I love meeting new people, visiting and discovering new places. I am so thankful to have been able to travel as much as I have. 

But I’ve got something to confess… I am also an introverted person. I feel exhausted if I talk with people for too long and if don’t have time for myself, I will become really serious and not fun to be around. 

When travelling, I often feel the pressure of going out and visiting all there is to visit in a place. It feels like if you’re not doing something, you’re wasting your time. I think that growing up in a society with the mentality “if you’re not being productive, you don’t have value/add value to the world”… takes a toll.

For me, this means that sometimes, I just don’t feel like going out of my hotel room. Sometimes I just want to be in my own little bubble away from the rest of the world; I just want to be back home, with a glass of wine and my favourite film. If I’m feeling a bit extra that day, maybe some popcorn and a nice comfy blanket. Sometimes I just want to speak my language and not make an effort at all to remember how to say certain things.

But you’re travelling, and you’re seeing all these new things, meeting all these new interesting people, experiencing new cuisines… How ungrateful of you to just stay at the hostel and watch a movie. Such a waste… 

I has these thoughts as well… Until I planned my own trip around Taiwan. I did my lists and my planning to visit as much as I could, but by the second week ended up exhausted. Tired from talking to people all day, from taking pictures of things that honestly, didn’t seem that special because I didn’t have time to read the description. From looking for the food that was popular at that place, even if I felt like eating something else… Until I arrived to a particularly good hostel where by chance, I had the room to myself for a few hours. I put on a face mask, did my nails, had a nap, watched a film and felt 100% better with myself. 

Then I realised…


You don’t have to visit every single tourist attraction to have a good time.

If you enjoyed that cup of coffee while people watching, you did not waste your time.

You are allowed to enjoy and relax during your travels in any way you want.


I had the chance to meet Kasia & Victor, a lovely Spanish-Polish couple who have been travelling for a while now. They made me realise that I wasn’t alone in this idea. They have a very interesting blog post about “slow travel” (in Spanish). The concept is about enjoying every step of the way. Not focusing on the “touristy” stuff and just observing life in the place you’re staying. It’s about getting to know the culture and people. About being a “traveller” rather than a “tourist”.

I am well aware that not everyone has that much time off work to do this, but even if you have a week… Rather than planning a “gymkhana week” where you’re going from touristic attraction to the next touristic attraction, maybe try to slow down. Take the pressure off yourself. Let your self relax and breath and enjoy.

Instead of getting that perfect shot for your IG and ignoring the child that has stopped playing with a ball to help an old man, you could be present in where you are and watch life happening around you.

Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Nowadays, it’s easy to get caught up in other people’s Instagram pictures and their life. Social media can be a blessing to keep in touch with family and friends who live far away from us, but also a curse if we compare our lives to strangers who seem to be continuously on vacation.

Sure you can think “I’m going to get off social media and only focus on my life”, but we are human. It’s normal to have these feelings of wanting what other people have, specially if it looks as cool as being one day in Rome and the next in Thailand.

What has helped me it’s to be a tourist in my own city, thinking of ways to switch it up and not fall into monotony.

How?

  • Find a new coffee shop/restaurant
  • Find events near you (facebook groups, meetup.com)
  • Think of your hobbies and look for activities around your area
  • Go to a guided tour (some are even free)
  • Make your own guided tour: research about the History of your city
  • Try geocaching
  • Do some volunteering

Why?

It helps you feel refreshed, you see the city with new eyes and it takes you out of your confort zone.

El Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain

Side effects of travelling

“Oh, I don’t do that anymore, because when I was in X country #1…” “Oh, in X country #2 I found this thing that…” “In X country #3, things are way better…”(*read with annoying posh voice”) 

If you are anything like me, the above sentences would make you roll your eyes so hard it hurt. Or at least judge in a “selfie from below” angle the person saying those things. I used to be from the judging team. But I’m afraid I have slightly converted (hopefully I am not that posh/annoying) into one of those people now. 

This past year I have been travelling quite a lot, and first of all I feel privileged, lucky, grateful, humbled, all of the above and more for the amazing experiences. However, I also missed home. A lot of people only see the glamorised version part of travel that is trying new foods, meeting lots of new and interesting people, seeing amazing scenery… But we are not taking into account that maybe one day you’re not having the best time and just want a bit of your own country’s comfort food, or your sofa and a film or simply to vent out with a friend in your own language. 

And then you come home and you finally get the dish you’ve been craving for the second half of the trip… and it’s not as good as you remember, or it doesn’t give you the same sense of comfort that it used to. You meet up with your friends, but you don’t feel you can vent out as naturally as you used to, or you suddenly don’t find as many common interests as you used to. You go to your favourite spot in the city, but you don’t feel the same sense of belonging you used to feel. 

Travelling changes you and it changes the way you think. How could it not? You see different ways of living, different people, different foods… You are not the same you used to be and you feel a stranger in a world that used to feel like home. 

For me Spain and UK were places I considered to be my home. However, when I went back to Spain from living in London for 4 years, I didn’t fully understand how the supermarket aisles worked anymore or what to buy, I didn’t like how uncomfortable the metro seats are, I thought people talked way louder than they should… And then visiting London I hated the pollution I used to not even notice, somehow found the accent annoying at times, the fake politeness would get on my nerves… 

It is said that second times are always worse than the firsts… I reckon they are not worse, you are just more aware than you were before, and with a broader perspective comes… bigger responsibility(?). Sorry, that was my inner nerd speaking 🙂 When you have a wider perspective, some of the innocence when you see things for the first time is gone. You are left with the beautiful picture, sure, but the sense of awe is not there anymore. I am aware that change is a constant of life and that it makes us grow and become who we are. But it can be scary and confusing. Other people love it… And that’s okay too.

Are you saying you would have stayed in your country had you known the consequences? No.

So you are okay with being not particularly good with change but not living in your own country? Yes. Because life is short and the world too big for me to stay at one place only.

Isn’t it scary and hard? Yes. But so it is following someone else’s life path. I’ll tell you what though, you do you, I’ll be all over the globe doing me.

Solo travelling

Isn’t it scary?

It’s not my worst nightmare, to be honest…

Don’t you get bored?

No, my own company is delightful.

How do you do it?

I have already explained in this post. But I simply pack my bags and I’m on my way.

I just couldn’t…

Well… ¡surprise! You don’t have to.

More than 7 years ago my dream of going to Taiwan to learn Chinese started to take form. While studying Translation and Interpretation at university, I had the chance to learn Chinese. I loved the language and its history and culture have always been fascinating for me. I also discovered Taiwan. I started to watch Taiwanese TV series and distinguish their accent. I read all the blogs and articles there were and slowly but surely I started planning.

7 years later, even though, the plan had more side walks than high roads, I am in Taiwan. Proud of my self, thankful to life and happy.

But… all by yourself?

For starters, I think of myself as a rather introvert and empathic person. Large crowds stress me a lot. Being with someone 24/7 sets me in a bad mood. I need my alone time to recharge. This means that I have a high level of self knowledge and I know what I need and when I need it. I don’t hate having people around me, but I do need my alone time.

Also, it is my dream, it is very specific and it is very far away from Europe. It’s not that I don’t have friends who would like to come with me, but we each have our own lives. Some don’t have time, others don’t have money. If planning a dinner in a more than 10 people WhatsApp group chat living in the same city as these people is hard enough, I don’t even want to think about planning a trip. If you wait until all the starts and circumstances align, you’ll be your whole life waiting.

Isn’t it scary?

Society has programmed us a path since we’re very little and many times we just follow it without thinking twice. Most people live waiting for their day off and when it does come, they just lay in bed because they are tired of their 8 hour shifts. They don’t have time to enjoy a walk in the park or a day trip to a close by village. What I am scared of is to see myself bitter at the end of my life in a job that doesn’t fulfil me and surrounded by people as bitter as I am. 

I think we all have a comfort zone. At the beginning it is scary to get out of there, of course. But the minute you get out, that comfort zone extends to wherever you are now. Once you do something, next time, you know what to expect and you do it with more confidence. I moved out of home since I was 18, I did my Erasmus in France at 20 and then moved to London at 22… So I guess that helped.

Don’t you get bored?

My favourite pastime are reading or writing or listening to music. I don’t need that many people for this. On the other hand, There is this stigma in society of people who are alone (being an activity or travelling), they are lonely. With me as company? Nah. I like the person I have become and I am quite the company: intelligent, fun and a good person… What else can you ask for? I have amazing friends and family who loves me and supports me. I also have incredible dreams that I want to fulfil, though.

Also, believe it or not, you meet more people travelling on your own. The minute you have to ask for directions, or ask for food in a restaurant or ask for touristic places or activities… You have a choice: you starve or you talk to the waiter. If you don’t do it, no one will.

How do you do it? I just couldn’t…

You really don’t have to. I see life as a solo trip (accompanied at times). There are people who will be in your life always but others that go by. We can learn from everyone and they all can help us at certain times. But it is YOUR trip. A lot of times, “thanks” to social media, we see people with lives that, for us, look amazing. We then feel jealous because our life is not as glamorous. It happens to me with wedding pictures… and I don’t even want to get married!

I like to travel solo an I want to, but it doesn’t mean you have to. It doesn’t mean you are wrong. It just means that we are going to have a different path. And that is okay. If we all thought the same, just how boring would that be? (: