an introvert's guide to surviving group travel

raise your hand if you're an introvert. that would be me. and if you're like me, an introvert who must have some kind of alone time or else she might explode, this post will give you some scientifically proven [meaning, I use them and they mostly work] methods of surviving travel when you're in a group.

I spent 3 weeks traveling New Zealand with my husband and our 2 close friends. as much as I love them, that's a long time to be confined with others. sometime you just need a little peace and quiet. how did I manage to stay mostly sane and agreeable during our trip? well, I'm not a master. but after 3 years of extended travels with friends I've come up with a few ways to cope when I'm feeling cooped up.

if you're not an introvert, you might want to read this anyway to help keep your travel buddy sane.

never underestimate the power of headphones

headphones are my secret weapon. plug them in, and you're no longer on an airplane full of screaming babies. you can block out those catcalls and creepy dudes on the subway. or maybe your husband's snoring. load up your phone or iPod with your favorite feel-good jams, and any time you press play you can be in your own little bubble of happy. bonus: even if you aren't listening to anything, wearing earphones will help discourage unwanted conversation.

take your hobbies with you

yes, it is important to actually experience things while you are traveling. but when you are enjoying the view from behind a camera lens, taking in the scenery with your sketchbook, or soaking in the sunlight with a novel... people are less likely to bother you. plus, doing something you love and enjoy will put you in a better mood. if it's your habit to journal every day, bring your journal. vacation doesn't mean you have to put your hobbies on hold.

balance your itinerary

this isn't always an option. but if you can, scheduling a day or two between 6-hour drives on an overnight bus [or economy rental with friends] will give you some mental and physical space to recharge. build some downtime into your plans, so you aren't constantly rushing from one crowded attraction to another. if you are a planner, go ahead and pencil in and afternoon to relax.

repeat after me: alone time is sacred

it is 100% ok for you to decide you want to skip that muy thai kickboxing match and spend a few hours quietly reading in your hotel room. go for a short walk while you are waiting on your friends to finish getting ready for the day. stay up an extra hour and enjoy a glass of wine. commit to giving yourself a small amount of time each day, rather than letting anxiety build up. giving yourself the space you need will make you [and everyone else] happier, and ensure you can better enjoy the activities you don't want to miss.

be honest with your travel partners

maybe the most important tip I have: speak your mind and be honest. coming out and saying "guys, I need some alone time" on Tuesday is worlds better than "I can't stand you anymore" on Thursday. communication is key, especially when you're traveling with your romantic partner or good friends. you don't want to damage those relationships because you didn't state your needs clearly.

part of this is also learning to be honest with yourself. take the time to ask yourself what you need, and give yourself a real answer. maybe it's an hour of solo shopping, two chapters of a book, or just 5 minutes to brush your teeth. [or time to take photos a la this post during a much-needed solo stroll in Queenstown NZ.]

if you're an introvert, how do you cope when traveling in a group? if you're married to/ partners with/ friends of an introvert, how do you manage during your travels?

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