There are two times in my life when I have done a group tour travel experience, both in Asia. The first time I went to Thailand with a friend and the second time was Vietnam and I went by myself. For those that do not know me (and for those that do) I am an introvert. The careers I’ve placed myself in professionally might make you think otherwise (Receptionist, Waitress etc.) but I assure you, I am. So what is it like to travel as an introvert? When hostels and groups of people who party might not be your thing? Here is my comprehensive guide on how to do group travel, as an introvert.
Picture this; you’ve just arrived in Vietnam completely alone, you’ve managed to arrive to the hostel around 4 hours before check in time and you’re hanging around with no one in sight. You’re a little nervous. However, you do feel slightly confident from your previous trip experience to Thailand that you probably wont be sharing a room with that many people. Check in time rolls around, no one is still here and you arrive to your room completely alone and see you’re sharing a room with 7 beds in. Oh boy.
Meet up time with the group isn’t until 6pm anyway. So you try and have a nap, fail, go out, explore (read: try not to get run over) and grab some food to wait in the hostel reception for your group. When they arrive, they are all varying in ages (between 18 and 30), there are more than 30 of them and you overhear that the tour group all started together in Cambodia before coming here. You’re the new comer when everyone has already made friends. Oh boy oh BOY. My worst introverted nightmare.
Thankfully, a few people introduced themselves to me (and I them) and we went back to the room (which was now full) and did introductions before heading out to a bar for a night. By this time, I’d been awake over 24 hours (can’t sleep on a plane) and bars are not really my thing anyway (I don’t really drink). So I went back to the hostel.
Some common misconceptions about the Introvert
- People think you’re being rude when you don’t talk to them (especially if you have Chronic Bitch Face like me!)
- People might be intimidated by how quiet you are
- We don’t enjoy company
My top tips for surviving introductions
- You will get a lot of the same questions if someone is chatting to you, but try and make sure you are the one asking most of the questions. Ask them more meaningful questions instead of “where you from?” They’ve had to answer this question a dozen times already. No pressure though if you need to make small talk.
- Don’t be afraid to ask their name again, even if 6 hours has passed.
- I typically find someone to chat to and hang around with them for a bit before seeing who they hang out with and then introduce yourself to them
- Don’t be afraid to merge in to different groups at the start and getting to know others.
- Remember, the people are a bonus but you’re here for the destination.
Mistakes to avoid
I have to admit, I have such a bad habit of trying to bond with someone over negative experiences. About the traffic, the food at the specific restaurant, how hot it is. Please don’t do this. I did this in Vietnam and I believe it lead to people finding me annoying, moany and miserable. Combine that with all the other stuff like being around each other a lot, feeling hot, and it was a recipe for disaster. No one was ever impolite, a few people snapped but this was my fault. This was the perception I gave them. That I was a toxic miserable ass! When that’s far from the truth, I really loved Vietnam and I thought I had a really good group. This might not be an introvert problem but more of a *me* problem! But I thought I’d mention it anyway!
Try and find something else to bond with them about (the fact you both have dogs?! for example) and do not participate in any gossip, negativity or group politics. It’s just not worth it for the sake of your comfort.
Try not seclude yourself and stick to your comfort zone. You’re travelling! Even if bars are not your thing, try and make one or two nights. These are good ways to bond with your group.
A big mistake is thinking that you “don’t do” small talk. Maybe at home but on a tour? Different story! I hate it too. I want to talk about conspiracy theories, how aliens exist and all sorts but you’re really going to have to pull up your socks sometimes and hit them with the “The weather is apparently going to be really nice today! I’m excited!” Okay? deep breath.
New things to try
If you have quite a bit of free time and want to try something new, ask around and find out what some individuals are doing in your group that day too. Half of us wanted to go to the Spa to relax and the other half wanted shopping, so I went with the spa group! Alternatively, if there is something you desperately want to do or see while in a certain town (like cafe hopping!) don’t be afraid to invite them and let them know your plans too. It’s good to swap ideas, you could find a hidden gem!
After a couple of days, if you’re comfortable enough with the people around you…Show them the real you!! By this point, you’ve probably got your own little group going and you can just let loose. Try and gain the mentality that you’re never going to see these people again, so who cares if they see you dance like a toddler? or they see you stuffing your face? You’re travelling too.
You will be around each other a lot
A lot of the times Introvert’s really feel drained from social company. As previously mentioned, you really will be around people a lot of time and find it hard to recover sometimes. My top tip would be, If there is a group activity you’re not too fussed about, spend time in the hostel and just recover. Alternatively, use the nights that people are out drinking to recharge. As I was sharing a dorm with 7/8 other people, sometimes staying in, there would be someone else there too. Pop in your headphones and watch a film. If your bed has a curtain, use it! I also successfully managed to get a seat on the bus by myself to long haul destinations, so when people were sleeping , I was emotionally recharging.
Sometimes you will get FOMO
I wont lie to you, I did suffer from FOMO sometimes (Fear Of Missing Out). Especially on the nights when every one went out and had a great time! Remember though, you’re there for the destination. A bonus is also that you’re not feeling sick on a bus driving on a rocky road.
Overall I would recommend group travel for the introvert. It’s a good way to see most of the places in such a short amount of time. Not only that, you can make friends for life. I’m still in contact with people from my Thailand trip and chat to them regularly! I should probably also take some of my own advice next time I travel with a group!
What do you think? Are you an introvert / introverted? Would you ever do a group trip?
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