I twisted myself into all sorts of knots before taking my first solo trip as an introvert…
“I’ll be too shy to make any friends. My dorm mates will think I’m weird. I won’t want to leave my room and I’ll book the next flight home.”
I was wrong.
Based on my experiences, here are 10 things that shy guys and gals can expect when you solo travel as an introvert.
I’ve also shared 12 of my personal solo travel tips for introverts. And listed the 5 best solo trips for introverts!
Nomadic Yak has 100s of solo travel tips if it’s your first time travelling solo!
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use.
Solo Travel for Introverts: 10 Things to Expect
Only 10-20% of your solo trip will be spent alone
80% of the time you’ll be surrounded by other travellers, tour guides, motel staff and friendly locals.
When staying in private accommodation, you’ll get time alone at night in your room. But when staying in shared dorm rooms, you’ll actively have to seek time alone (e.g. visiting attractions and sights by yourself).
Afraid of eating alone? Don’t be – you’ll eat most of your meals with travel buddies. Eating alone is actually a blessing because you can choose the restaurant and eat at your own pace!
Are you cut out for solo travel? Take my 15-question quiz: should I travel alone?
You will make 1 new friend every day (and it’s easier than you expect)
As an introvert, my biggest fear and anxiety about travelling alone was having to make friends. I realised within the first day that socialising was actually the easiest part of solo travel.
You’ll be surrounded by hundreds of other solo travellers. And people travelling alone all want one thing – travel buddies.
The trick to breaking the ice? Discuss your common interest – travel and adventure (see my tips below).
Become a popular pilgrim with my 9-Step Guide to Making 100s of Friends While Travelling Alone!
The Introverts’ Bible to Making Friends
by Dale Carnegie
- My #1 book recommendation for introverts who travel.
- 30 practical tips to make people like you.
- Has helped me make 100s of friends around the world despite being naturally shy.
No one will think you’re weird for travelling alone
The intrusive thought lingering in every introvert’s head before a solo trip – “people are going to think I’m weird for travelling alone!”
Two words: don’t worry. No ones going to think you’re a freak for travelling by yourself.
Solo travel is the #1 travel trend in the world. At least 15% of your fellow travellers are going to be travelling alone (probably more).
Warning: Solo travel can still feel awkward at times (like when you first arrive in a new dorm room). See my 6 tips to avoid awkward moments when travelling alone.
You will get lonely and bored
One of the things that attract introverts to solo travel is spending time alone. But there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.
I’m loneliest whenever one of my new travel buddies moves on with their travels. I am on my own again, having to make a new group of friends.
And even though I love spending time by myself, I still get bored sometimes during solo trips. For me, the most boring part is taking long coach rides or flights.
50% of hostel dorms offer privacy
Half of the hostels I’ve stayed in offer bunk beds with curtains or enclosed capsules. Shut yourself off from prying eyes in your own little introvert cocoon.
The other hostels simply offer open bunk beds. I try to avoid these because you’ve got no privacy.
When booking hostels, introverts travelling alone should look at the pictures of the dorm rooms. Make sure that the bunk beds offer some form of privacy.
Your social media following will grow
I’m going to sound vain for saying this. But one of the things I was excited about when I first started solo travel as an introvert was creating awesome content.
I’ll admit, I never went viral with any of my posts. But I gained a heap of followers and my Instagram snaps got more likes than ever.
Because you make new friends whilst travelling alone, you get more followers on social media.
Not to mention, you’ll take some awesome photos. People at home will get to see a different side to you – the adventurous introvert!
Running low on captions? See my 100 best solo travel quotes and Instagram captions!
Chances are high that you’ll find love
I was gangly and shy when I first started travelling alone in my early 20s – my expectations of romance were low. Very low.
As it turned out, solo travel was what I needed to become more socially skilled and self-confident.
After being forced to meet new people every day, I was suddenly able to speak to women, entertain them and form romantic bonds.
Most solo travellers are single and looking to mingle. The chances are that you will fall into at least one romantic relationship during your solo travels as an introvert.
Did you know that 40% of backpackers have 2 or more sexual partners during their trip? Discover 30 more secrets about sex whilst travelling!
You will be scared sometimes and afraid to ask for help
I have found myself in dozens of dangerous and scary situations during my years of solo travel as an introvert:
- Being cornered inside a deep and dark cave in Laos after refusing to pay an extortionate guide.
- Being swarmed by hundreds of Moroccan men late at night after getting off at the wrong train stop in a rural village.
- Having my phone pickpocketed by three ladyboys in Thailand.
- The list goes on…
The truth is, solo travel is not always safe. You will face unique dangers that you wouldn’t necessarily deal with if travelling in a group.
And as an introvert, you may be afraid to ask people around you for help when travelling alone.
My advice is this – people are kinder than they appear and almost always willing to help. If you need assistance, ask and you shall receive.
However, you can avoid most dangers if you abide by these solo travel safety tips!
75% of your best memories will be with a group
Plenty of my fondest solo travel memories were created all on my lonesome. Riding a motorbike through Vietnam. Climbing the Cotton Castle in Turkey. Meeting monks in the mountains of Laos.
But when I flick through my solo travel photos, I realise that many of my best memories were with a group of travel buddies.
Getting drunk with new friends and watching kickboxing in Thailand. Washing Asian elephants in mud with my tour group. Climbing the chimneys around Cappadocia with three other Aussies.
I get it. We’re introverts – we like to spend time alone. And you will. But don’t forgo group activities – they’ll make for some of your favourite solo travel memories.
When’s it best to travel alone and when’s it best to travel in a group? See my experiences with solo travel vs group travel.
The most awkward moment is when you first arrive at the hostel
You’ve just hopped off a 10-hour coach ride, you’re sweaty and ready to hit the sack. You stumble into your dorm room and 8 strangers are staring at you…
I always suggest breaking the ice ASAP. At the very first opportunity, introduce yourself to the people in your dorm (see my tips below for icebreakers).
If you don’t introduce yourself, you’ll feel weird. Then you’ll start acting weird. And then your dorm mates will think you’re weird.
As introverts, we create our own problems. Don’t be shy. Challenge yourself and you’ll enjoy your solo trip more.
Hasta La Vista to the Anxious Introvert
by Olivia Fox Cabane
- Think that charisma is something you’re born with? Wrong!
- 10 practical ways to seem more powerful, warm and present.
My 12 Secret Solo Travel Tips for Introverts
1. Find yourself a ‘happy spot’ at each destination
Every destination I visit, I find my ‘happy spot’. I do this on the first morning of arriving and make a habit of visiting this place every day.
This is a place where I can be alone with my thoughts and energize each morning. It’s often somewhere scenic and quiet.
My favourite ‘happy spot’ was a rocky river bank in Vang Vieng, Laos (see the picture above).
2. Break the ice one person at a time
Before travelling alone as an introvert, I thought I had to memorise a list of cool and witty icebreakers. Ridiculous.
Start the conversation with a simple question or remark:
- Hey, how are you?
- Where’s that accent from?
- I like your (clothes, backpack, water bottle, etc.)
- Hey, I overheard you talking about (destination, attraction, restaurant, etc.). I’m planning to go there, what did you think?
- Hey, sorry, do you know what time (the pub crawl, breakfast, sunrise, etc.) is?
- Do you mind if I join you? Where are you from?
Introverts should start by befriending just one person. That person will introduce you to their friends and your social circle will grow. This is easier than trying to introduce yourself to an entire group.
3. The best places to make friends
So you know how to start a conversation with a stranger. But where are the best places to make friends when solo travelling as an introvert?
My favourite places to make friends when travelling alone include:
- Around the hostel dining area or bar
- In the hostel dorm room
- On hostel pub crawls
- On day tours to nearby sights and attractions (look for free walking tours)
- Whilst riding the train, coach or flying
- In the hostel common room (I’ll often remark on books that people are reading or play guitar and let people join in).
4. Learn how to say no
As introverts, we shy away from the word, “no”.
There’s no shame in telling someone, “no”. In fact, it is necessary when travelling alone as an introvert.
“No”, I don’t want to buy your overpriced trinkets. “No”, I won’t pay to ride your malnourished donkey. “No”, I don’t want to go to the bar with you. “No”, I’m not going to give you my Instagram handle.
If you don’t say no to some things, you’ll be dragged into everything. And this is the fastest way to spoil your solo trip and find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Uncover the Power of ‘No’
by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi
- You won’t get along with everybody you meet whilst travelling solo.
- Learn to stop worrying about other people’s opinions of you.
- Become comfortable with doing what’s best for you.
5. Mix it up between private rooms and hostel dorms
When travelling alone, I spend 5 days a week in a hostel dorm. The other 2 days of the week, I book a private room.
Shared accommodation allows introverts to socialise and make travel buddies. Private rooms give introverts time to be alone, relax and rejuvenate.
Plan your accommodation around your budget and how much time you need to spend alone as an introvert.
6. Carry your creative art with you
I always carry a guitar on my solo trips. As an introvert, it serves two purposes:
- I find it calming and fun to play in private; and
- I can play it in the hostel common area and use it as a way to meet new people.
What is your creative art? Painting? Music? Dance? Photography? Writing?
Whatever your hobby, try to continue practising it whilst travelling alone. This may be as simple as carrying a sketchbook or a camera with you.
7. Invest in noise-cancelling earphones
The constant noise in foreign countries can become tiring for an introvert.
Use noise-cancelling earphones to block out noise when flying alone, taking long coach rides and walking busy streets. You can also listen to nature sounds or audiobooks when falling asleep in rowdy dorm rooms.
I use AirPod Pros 2 because they sync seamlessly with my Apple products. I can also switch them to “Transparency Mode” when trying to speak to someone or cross a busy street.
Escape Into Your Own Little World
- When I’m sick of socialising, I’ll use active noise cancellation to find peace and quiet.
- Listen to your music, podcast or audiobook without distraction – perfect for noisy hostels and rattling plane rides.
- Easier to make phone calls in loud environments.
8. Learn the basics of the local language
It can be worrying when you don’t know what the locals are saying to you or about you. You feel like you don’t have a lot of control over the situation.
Download Duolingo and learn the basics of the local language.
The best part about Duolingo is that it’s free and fun. In the first week alone, you’ll learn about greetings, pronouns and travel terms – enough for an introvert to survive travelling alone.
9. Download these essential solo travel apps for introverts
There are 5 apps that I always download when solo travelling as an introvert:
- Airbnb: Sometimes I want absolute privacy and rent an apartment all to myself. The local hosts are usually friendly, introduce me to the area and then leave me in peace.
- Whatsapp: I have found Whatsapp to be the best app for making video calls to friends and family. Its “Low data mode” means that calls are stable and I don’t use a heap of my mobile internet package.
- Spotify and Audible: Besides music and podcasts, I also find the Sleep and Wellness sections on Spotify to be calming. I also try to chew through 1 non-fiction and 1 fiction audiobook on each solo trip.
- Netflix/Amazon Prime/Disney: Pre-download any shows that you’ve been meaning to get through.
- Maps.Me: Download maps for offline navigation. Comes in handy when I’m exploring by myself or have had enough of my travel buddies and want to return to the hostel alone.
10. Dress to blend in
As a 6’6” gigantor, I can’t avoid the attention of other travellers and locals. But you may fair better if you dress for the occasion.
Don’t wear bright, colourful or loud clothes if you want to avoid social interaction whilst travelling alone as an introvert. If possible, dress as the locals do and you’ll blend into the crowd.
11. Smile or scowl
Your facial expressions say a thousand words. As introverts, we can use our expressions to either attract or repel social attention.
Wanting to make friends around the hostel common room? Keep a subtle smile on your face when interacting with people you like (but don’t grin like the Cheshire Cat.)
Trying to avoid annoying street merchants? Ignore them and look on ahead. If they persist, give them a stern “no” and a dirty look.
12. Meditate or keep a journal
One of the advantages of solo travel is that you get more alone time for self-reflection. You can work through your personal problems and return home with clarity.
Spend 5 minutes each morning meditating. If you’re not used to meditation, try a free app like Medito or guided meditations on Youtube.
Suffering from solo travel depression? Journaling can help you identify your triggers.
My Life on a Tablet
- Often the only computer I will travel with.
- I use it to keep a journal, edit photos/videos, read books and watch TV shows/movies.
- Perfect for introverts wanting alone time whilst travelling.
- Suprisingly affordable.
5 Best Solo Trips for Introverts
Introverts need solo travel destinations that aren’t overly draining. Somewhere where you can find peace and quiet amongst the people and the landscape.
But that doesn’t mean that your solo trip can’t also be adventurous.
If it’s you’re first time travelling alone as an introvert, I would suggest these solo trips:
- Japan: Wander the laneways of Tokyo and the temples of Kyoto. The Japanese people are famously polite and subdued. A wonderful cultural experience for introverted solo travellers.
- New Zealand: Explore Hobbit Holes, towering fjords, bubbling mud pools and snow-capped volcanoes. An awesome trip for introverted solo travellers who love being amongst nature.
- Scandinavia: Take a sled ride in Sweden and wander the waterfronts in Denmark. Introverted solo travellers will like the quiet people and cosy vibes in Scandinavia.
- Canada: Shred the slopes and explore pristine national parks. Voted amongst the best countries in the world for introverts.
- South East Asia: Lose yourself in the bustling crowds of Bangkok and the peaceful rice paddies of Vietnam. A solo trip for introverts looking to challenge themselves a little whilst also enjoying some downtime.
Want more ideas? See my list of the 193 best places for solo travel – I’ve scientifically ranked every country in the world!
Summary: Introvert Solo Travel
Without a doubt, solo travel is the best form of travel for introverts.
You control how much (or little) social interaction you have. But you are also challenged to meet new people and become more socially confident.
The #1 lesson that introverts will learn from solo travel? You are not as introverted as you think.
Within a few days of travelling alone, you become a master at speaking to strangers, making new friends and enjoying companionship.
I was once a shy guy. But solo travel changed my life. It can do the same for you.
Find More Solo Travel Tips on Nomadic Yak
Find more first-time solo travel tips on Nomadic Yak!
Nomadic Yak helps solo travellers to plan journeys that are adventurous and authentic.
Every article is written by me, Harry Dale. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries over the last 5 years – alone.
You’ll find 100s of solo travel tips on how to save money, make more friends, build a social media following and much more.
Plus, you can use my solo travel destination guides to discover international sights and attractions that few other travellers get to witness.