It doesn’t sound like group tours are something an introvert would enjoy, does it? Why would I want to put myself into a situation where I’m forced to spend day and night with a group of strangers? Sit on the same bus, sleep in the same room, do all daily activities together? I’m a person who needs time alone to recharge, who is shy and often uncomfortable around strangers, especially if there’s a lot of them – why do I think it’s a great idea to put myself into a place where I’m exposed to all of that?
Introverts are social beings, too
The answer is, because it forces me to stand up to my social awkwardness, overcome my fears, and meet new people. Isn’t that an important reason why we travel in the first place? We challenge ourselves and test our limits, so we will be rewarded with new experiences once we overcome them. The social aspect is an important part of travelling, just as it is an important part of life. I want to meet others when I travel. I like meeting them. Only I’m way too shy to approach them on my own.
When I travel solo, I can spend very long stretches of time without really making contact with anyone. I’m not avoiding people exactly, but I’m not approaching them either. Unless someone else makes the first step, I might stay by myself the whole trip. And I’m fine with that, usually. After all, I’m comfortable on my own. Travelling solo can be liberating, and I enjoy the freedom it brings. But there comes a point when I feel that having some interaction with others may be overdue.
That’s when I turn to group tours. You’re thrown in with a bunch of strangers, and you have to live with them for a few days. Sounds like a nightmare scenario for an introvert? It’s not as bad as you might think. Of course there will be some awkward situations at first, when everyone is still trying to get to know everyone else. But you’ll soon get past that. I don’t think I never needed more than a day, at most, before I felt at home with my travel group.
Getting to know people is easy on a group tour
You can start small. If you only get to know one fellow group member, that’s often enough to feel a lot more comfortable. And getting into a conversation with someone doesn’t usually take long on these tours. After all, every one else is also a traveller.
First conversations often follow a similar pattern: Where are you from? How long are you travelling? Where have you been before? Where are you going next? Why this particular country/tour/region? Any of these questions will do just fine as a conversation opener. So not knowing what to say is at least one thing you don’t need to worry about.
Once you know one person, others will follow automatically. Soon you’ll know where everyone on the bus is from (I mostly know people’s nationalities long before I remember their names), and they will start to feel less like strangers, and more like friends. If you still hesitate, just remember that those other people are probably feeling just as awkward as you are the first day of the tour. After all, they are surrounded by strangers too.
In the worst case, wait till someone else approaches you. Sooner or later that is going to happen anyway. The person sitting next to you on the bus. Or at lunch. Or the person who freaks out with you in excitement at the first sightseeing stop you do. Possibilities are endless.
Group tours can give you memories you won’t make on your own
By the first evening I always feel I’m among friends, even if I may not have spoken to everyone yet. Maybe I never will, depending on the group size. But that’s ok, as long as there are some people I get along with. Those are the people I stay in contact with long after the tour ends. Sometimes I kept travelling with friends from the tour for some time after, if we happened to head the same direction, or I caught up with them the next time our paths crossed.
It’s a great feeling to share your adventures with like-minded people, and very different from doing things alone. So far I have done two group tours in Britain with Haggis Adventures, and quite a lot in Australia with Adventure Tours. All of them gave me unforgettable memories and a group of friends from all over the world. I also recommend IntroverTravels, a travel company that offers trips tailored specifically for introverts.
The point is, I do love meeting fellow travellers and make friends from all over the world. I just sometimes have to force myself to take the first step, by putting myself into a situation where it is unavoidable. So I go on group tours. I go on guided walking tours. I go on many different activities that are done in groups, because they force me to come out of my shell and meet new people.
And if at any time my capacity for social interaction is exhausted, I can always decide to do the next leg of the trip alone. Until I’m ready again to expose myself to the world.
What are your experiences with group tours? Good or bad? Do you feel like it’s something you would consider doing as an introvert? Share in the comments!
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I enjoyed your outlook on traveling as an introvert. I have, at different times, described myself as an introvert (mostly) and/or a multipotentialite (all the other times).
I believe that many of us introverts enjoy groups, in part, because we can get lost in the crowd. We don’t have to stand out; we can just blend in. Our place within the group puts us in a comfortable position within the flock, so to speak.
I feel more comfortable one on one with the friend making process. I, like many others, tend to sit back in most group situations, but when necessary, as in being seatmates on a bus, conversations and acquaintances become easier and more natural.
Only when I feel passionately about a subject can I step out of my comfort zone and be that person who leads the discussion or chooses a direction for future focus.
Thanks for listening and giving us introverts a little press, too.
That’s a great point about being able to blend in with a group. I didn’t even think of that, but you’re right. Being safe in a group can allow us introverts to be have more confidence in some situations because we are not facing them alone. Thank you for the insight!
I agree! And even as introverts, we aren’t necessarily non-social creatures. I really enjoy sharing an incredible experience with others (those who weren’t there will never be able to truly comprehend my tales when I get home) but then retreating to my own nest at the end of the day and having flexible time to do my own thing.
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I respect this outlook, as I think it may fit a lot of people, but I’d like to say all introverts aren’t shy, and the two terms aren’t interchangeable. We need to recharge in solitude and our minds are very active, but that doesn’t mean we’re awkward or afraid of people, we just want to be with them when we choose and are charged up, not when they choose for us. And, we often like one-on-one conversation vs. shallow group small talk, but that doesn’t make us shy or awkward, it means we like to get even deeper with people. As an introvert traveler, I do like group travel at times as long as sleeping quarters are guaranteed private. But I prefer the group be introverted rather than a group of extroverts who have no manners when it comes to photographing every move everyone makes and forcing people into their group pictures to constantly publish to the world on an ongoing basis during the entire trip. Some of us like to choose whether and when we’re in photos…. not everyone back home approves of, or even knows, we’re currently traveling solo, and with online facial recognition mixed with clueless extroverts and their cameras, there is no privacy in travel anymore. When I shoot travel photos, I’m very careful to avoid photographing recognizable images of people and publishing them to the world online.. I either ask permission or make sure my photos are of the scenery and not the individuals traveling. One or two photos of myself taken by others I’ve requested to take it, when I choose, is nice for a future online album if I choose to publish one later. But not the ongoing clicking of extroverts. Too much digital footprint is dangerous and more and more are advising against it. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t travel more in groups.
You are of course perfectly correct in saying that not all introverts are shy and as we’re all individuals, this advice may not fit everyone. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ve never really made that connection that extroverts take more pictures than introverts. It’s an interesting observation. However, personally, I never felt like people on group tours took photos of me without my knowledge or my consent. Sure, often we took a group picture at some point, but I knew it was happening and could have opted out or at least asked the others not to post it on social media if I didn’t want that. It sounds like you made some worse experiences with that, though. I’m sorry to hear that stopped you from travelling in groups. But in the end, we all have to find the travel style works best for us. Just as long as we keep travelling at all 🙂