The top travel tips for introverts, as recommended by introverts

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Need alone time? Own it, say introverted travelers.

Thomas Barwick | Digitalvision | Getty Images

The thought of round-the-clock “togetherness” — with friends, family or strangers bound together in a tour group — can be overwhelming to the estimated 57% of people who lean toward introversion.

Solo travel can suit introverts, who tend to re-energize by time spent alone. But even as its popularity increases, most trips are taken with other people.

But most uncomfortable moments can be avoided by following some of these ground rules, offered by fellow introverts.

The most popular recommendation by far: Book your own room.

“This allows for morning and evening downtime to defuse, regroup and refresh,” said Jenny Olsen, a Los Angeles-based public relations consultant who describes herself as a “total introverted traveler.”

If you have to share a room, she said, try to sleep in. “Then order room service to have breakfast alone in bed.”

In fact, Olsen advises ordering room service once a day, whether “breakfast, dinner or a late night dessert.”

Dori Nix, a marketing and communications director for the Colorado-based women-led tour company Adventures in Good Company, also recommends staying alone, even if means paying a single supplement.

“Having a space to decompress at the end of each day is often the only way I can function in social environments throughout the day,” she said. “It’s a safe place to escape.”

In Psychology Today, author Sophia Dembling cautions introverts to research group trips well.

“A tour bus full of first-timers to Europe might include a lot of mighty friendly folks who love making friends,” she wrote. “And I don’t mean that in a good way.”

Dori Nix said she focuses on nature and culture trips with slow-paced itineraries. “Personal space is very valuable to me, and crowded places would drain me much quicker on a trip.”

Source: Adventures in Good Company

Headphones are a good way to ward off unwanted conversations, especially on flights, said John Hackston, head of thought leadership at the The Myers-Briggs Company.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment is a popular test to determine introversion and extroversion tendencies, terms popularized by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung more than a century ago.  

Conversing with strangers can be uncomfortable for some introverts, Hackston said. He suggests having a exit strategy.

“Be ready to ‘go to the restroom’ or ‘leave to make a phone call’ if you need to get away,” he said.

What type of trips should introverts avoid?

  • Large travel groups (30+ travelers)
  • Packed schedules
  • Crowded locations and party destinations
  • Constant social interaction
  • Where double occupancy is the only option
  • A lot of driving time

Source: Kelly Kimple and Dori Nix, Adventures in Good Company

Travel writer Patty Civalleri also said introverts shouldn’t be passive in these situations. Her advice: Don’t allow yourself to be trapped by an endless talker.

“When you feel the need to break out of a conversation, simply look over the shoulder of the person talking and say something like ‘Wow, look over there. That looks interesting. Excuse me while I go check it out,'” she emailed CNBC Travel while on a group trip to Mazatlán, Mexico, “Or ‘I see a great photo, or selfie, opp. I’m going to grab it before it gets away.”

Talk to your travel companions before the trip, said Jonathan Feniak, general counsel at legal firm LLC Attorney. 

“When I was younger, I didn’t realize I needed a little bit of alone time to keep my social batteries charged,” he said. “After 7+ days spent traveling with people 24/7, it becomes harder to maintain that energy without an hour here or there, so I now tell any companions about those needs ahead of time.”

That lets people know they’re not “the problem,” he said.  

“If they don’t know about your introverted personality until you’re mid-vacation, they may misinterpret your energy or take it personally,” he said.

Patty Civalleri (middle) recommends that introverts keep an open mind about group activities. Of her mineral mud bath at the Dead Sea, she said, “I really did not want to do this but … it was a super fun experience.”

Source: Patty Civalleri

Though Western societies have long rewarded extroverted “more is merrier” types, there is nothing wrong with wanting space from the group, said Civalleri.

“Never feel shy about asking for alone time. We all need some time off from others, from activities and from the world,” she told CNBC Travel. “Time to simply relax by the pool alone with a book can be very therapeutic.”

The Myers-Briggs Company’s Hackston said introverts should set boundaries on vacation, which may mean doing their own thing at times.

“You don’t have to attend every minute of every activity your group has planned,” he said. “Spending hours in a library or a museum can be boring for some, but if this is your cup of tea, make time to explore it at your own pace.”

Adventures in Good Company CEO Kelly Kimple has a rule: no big tour buses.

“As an introvert, I definitely need small groups,” she said. “I also need to minimize time in vehicles. Long drives in a small space where can be caught up in hours of conversations can be exhausting for introverts!”

Kimple, a field biologist from rural New Hampshire, said she prefers trips with ample quiet time. Her company organizes outdoor trips for small groups of women that include activties like hiking and even sketching in the Rocky Mountains.

“As an introvert, I definitely need small groups. Nothing larger than about 15 [people], and no big tour buses,” said Kelly Kimple, CEO of Adventures in Good Company.

Source: Adventures in Good Company

Some introverts prefer solo travel, but Brooke Webber, a Los Angeles-based marketing professional, said she advises traveling with a small group.    

“More people might sound like a nightmare for a true introvert, but for me it made it easier to have ‘me-time’ as necessary,” she said. “If you travel in a group of 3+ people, you aren’t leaving a companion alone if you want to take a few hours or a day to explore solo or rest.”

Having the option to break away at a moment’s notice keeps Webber energized, she said, and “less likely to need to take it because I feel my social time is an option, not an obligation.”

David Ciccarelli, CEO of the vacation rental website Lake, said he’s also a fan of traveling with a small group of friends, occasionally choosing to dip out to later “come back into the fold.”

He advises packing a few items to help tune out the world.

“My earplugs and eye mask are a necessity,” he said. “They help me wind down at night and get some privacy on long train rides, flights, or an afternoon nap in the hotel room.”

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