Introverts vs. extroverts: who has an easier time traveling?

There’s a lot of interesting psychology behind frequent travel. Unfortunately I’m neither bright nor a psychologist, so I wouldn’t be the one to know it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I did, however, watch the movie “Up in the Air” a few years back when came out, and I was rather depressed by the second half of it. I’m sure the first half of the movie was far too relatable for most of us (in a good way), but then the second half of the movie told us what we really didn’t want to hear. Is travel about “escaping” something? I dunno, but that movie always has me thinking.

The reason I bring it up — and this is only an indirect parallel — is that when talking to people I always seem to hear different conclusions as to whether introverts or extroverts have an easier time traveling. While I don’t mind being in social settings and am not totally anti-social, I am an introvert. My ideal Friday night would be spent playing Microsoft Flight Simulator for hours on end. Or maybe that just makes me more nerdy than introverted. Who knows. So while I don’t mind social situations at all, afterwards I’m exhausted. I don’t “recharge” from being around people, but rather it’s draining to me, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Anyway, when I tell people I’m an introvert I often hear “well that’s surprising given how much you travel.” My thought process is usually the opposite — no, it’s not really surprising, it’s me being introverted that actually makes me enjoy traveling. In a way being on the road — whether it’s walking around a city, sitting on a plane, or sitting in a hotel club lounge — kind of makes me a fly on the wall. I love observing people, and I think the most comfortable context in which to observe people is when you’re outside of your usual environment. I mean, that’s not to say I won’t have delightful conversations with tuk tuk drivers, pearl shop owners, and people who have sisters in the US, but that’s about my limit…

Meanwhile I actually kind of imagine it would be tough to be an extrovert and be a frequent traveler. Yes, you can make friends when traveling (and despite being an introvert I’ve made plenty along the way), but if you’re only in cities for 1-2 days at a time that seems damn exhausting to me. At least if you’re looking for any depth.

My blog is never about finishing conversations, but rather about starting them. So I’d be curious to hear about how you guys feel about personality types and travel. Introverts, extroverts, middle-of-the-road-verts, let me know whether you think your personality type makes travel easier or harder for you.

Comments

  1. My extroverted “A-type” personality type makes traveling easier and opens a myriad of doors.

    There is NO ONE I won’t talk to.
    Interestingly, there are however people who won’t talk to me.
    (Could be my ‘meowing’ camera…)

    Human interaction will always make the world a smaller place.
    “Hello” is a good place to start.

    -JRL

  2. My dad is an extrovert and my mom is an introvert, and I think I got a little bit of both, depending on my situation.

    On our recent trip to Europe, I tended to be more “introvert”, because I was traveling WITH someone (my mom). When I felt like talking to someone, I could talk to her, when I felt like being quiet, I could too (since she is an introvert).

    But when I travel alone, I’m much more an extrovert. If I feel the urge to have a conversation, I have to seek someone out to do so.

    I don’t dislike talking to new people, but it is easy to default back to talking to people you know well. I wonder if extroverts tend to travel solo more often the introverts?

  3. I’m very much an introvert. Part of the reason why BAcon was a bit uncomfortable for me. Maybe it’s also a shyness thing. Around people I know I’m very outgoing and involved, but around people I don’t know I’m very quiet and withdrawn. I went on a camping trip with 100 people this weekend and I only knew 3 people before hand. On Saturday night at 8 pm when the parties started I retreated to my car and listened to audiobooks and went to bed.

  4. I’m a introvert but travel 150k a year for leisure mostly. I grew up in new york and learned long ago to overcome by natural inclination not to explore. And, while I’m very picky with the people I make friends with, I do make friends all over the world and often stay with them and they visit me.

    I’m always a little shocked by many bloggers that travel the world to more places than me and spend an inordinate among of time in sterile luxury chain hotels, eating breakfast and dinner there etc. Live and Let Fly went to Beirut and didn’t seem to leave the hotel. I kind of want to yell, who cares about the hideous hotel. Yes hideous, a rich person with sophistication would never stay at a Park Hyatt for any reason other than it being cheap or free. Those kind of hotels are hangouts for local investment banker troglodytes in most cities. And you feel like a member of the obnoxious british aristocracy holing yourself up in one of those in a poor foreign city.

    I would make me happy if bloggers got out of their shell a bit and went out and explored the cool parts of cities. Off the beaten path. Meet the hip locals. Learn to dress better and expand your culinary taste. Find a favorite restaurant on your own without a guide. Go out and eat with the locals. Stay in a locally owned hotel from time to time or rent an airbnb.

    Unlike US frequent flyer programs which are a terrific deal if you fly a lot, hotel programs ofter few points per trip and the hotels are enormously overpriced for what you get. You are essentially paying a wimpy introvert tax to stay at a chain hotel. Flying business class overnight is a big step up from coach, a suite in a chain hotel over a simple room is useless. In both cases you’re sleeping. During sleep you are unconscious and don’t use the hotel room. Chain hotels are for businessmen who are mostly working overseas and need zero distractions, a quick breakfast, gym and convenient location to get to the business meetings. They are for people who are exhausted and hate traveling and want it to be as much they aren’t in a foreign country as possible. Living as the locals do is time investment luxury they usually can’t afford.

  5. Normally I’d say I’m an extrovert but I tend to be a middle-of-the-road-vert when I travel. If I meet a new person and sense good chemistry (or whether we both feed good energy) then I’ll be an extrovert with no issues.
    If I don’t sense good energy or if I feel like I’m bothering/disturbing someone or if I’m just jetlagged and not feel like talking, I’ll be an introvert.
    I’m glad you wrote this post, Lucky, since I always thought bloggers would be natural extroverts, given how they share so much information to the public! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I very much agree with your “fly on the wall” analogy. I recently traveled to Tokyo alone for a few days and really enjoyed just wandering around listening to music watching the people and things going on. Wondering what people were doing or where they were going. I met people at bars and on tours that I had good conversations with. But really enjoyed being anonymous. I’m sure people were wondering who this fool in the baseball cap shorts and sunglasses was, especially at the Park Hyatt, but that’s cool too. I had no chance of blending in so I figured I’d just be comfortable.

  7. Pretty introverted to spend your days on a computer blogging, on a plane, in a lounge, or on a one night layover at an airport hotel in your suite.
    But that’s not traveling. Traveling involves exploring cultures, new people, and communities beyond the flight attendants paid to serve you and the elite status lines. That real traveling might require an extrovert.

  8. Time to update the poll? Could ask introvert or extrovert

    Alternatively could have 4 answers,
    I am an i/e and think that i/e’s have an easier time traveling

  9. Ambiverts probably have the best ability to adapt, and would be the most successful. You just may be on and not even know it ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I can pretty much say ‘ditto’ to everything you said. I’m an introvert. I do most trips on my own and am quite happy. I don’t think travel is hard(er) for either Is or Es. The great thing about travel is there is something in it for every type of person!

    (@Adam) I don’t think “real” travelling requires being an extrovert. Introverts (I) can enjoy exploring in solitude, people watching, etc. It’s not that I don’t enjoy meeting new people, but I might chose 1 activity where that can occur where an extrovert might choose more. I actually enjoy meeting locals and find it easier when travelling than when in my own town – more of a comfortable setting.

  11. I’m an introvert and love to travel. I often travel alone and truly enjoy it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t talk to people or enjoy the culture, but it means that I’m completely okay if I’m doing something where there’s no one around or there’s no one to talk to (I backpack a lot, so it’s a necessary skill there I think). I’ve met some of the coolest people and received some of the best travel tips when dining out alone while traveling because I sit at the bar and talk to the wait staff/bartenders/cooks.

  12. @ Adam — I’m not sure where you’re drawing that conclusion from, but it’s not accurate, respectfully. To say that only introverted or extroverted people can travel is ridiculous, in my opinion.

    I know extroverted people that are so caught up in “partying” abroad and spend hours on end with the same people without seeing anything, while I know introverts that sightsee for 12 hours at a time and take everything in, and as introverts usually do, process it carefully.

    So I don’t think it’s fair to “rule out” one personality type as not being able to travel.

  13. Amen to @Andrew! Having just picked up this points hobby, Im shocked at how bland the traditional trip report is among points bloggers. Granted that it’s not easy to share ones inner experience through words, I too get the impression that the points community fetishizes these enclosed rooms, seats, etc at the expense of being pushed outside one’s comfort zone.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the ability to enjoy luxury experiences that I otherwise can’t afford, but I’d never trade those no-money surf trips I took in my early 20’s. Slumming it for 5 dollars a day in Central America, Mex, and Indonesia where we slept on wooden floors, cooked and drank with the locals.

  14. Thanks for the self-reflective glimpse into your psyche. You articulated it well. I guess it struck me as ironic that so many people get to immerse themselves in your experiences, yet youโ€™re an introvert at heart. I would have thought extroverts find it easier to travel but I suppose each type gets what it wants out of the experience.

    Now I can picture you on Friday nights with your stimulator… I mean simulator. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. The question I have to people like @andrew: who are you to define what is “authentic” or not? Short answer: no more than I (or anyone else) is.

    If you do not like a particular style of travel blogging, why a) stop reading it and/or b) do your own?

    Oy.

    Oh, I am an introvert who loves travel in my own personal style which I enjoy.

  16. I don’t know, that’s an interesting question! I tend to think of myself as more introverted than anything, but the more I travel and the older I get, the more I actually think I’m more extroverted. I enjoy getting out and meeting people so much, and it recharges me (within reason – I don’t like loud party scenes, for example!)

    And it depends on the situation too. Sometimes I am in a travel spot where I purposely want some solitude, to either soak up the enormity of the place or just because I’m at that point at that time in my life.

    @Andrew and @Mike – spot on! So many of the blogger trip reports are all about the room, pics of the toilet, pics of the hot nuts on the plane, etc…staying at the Hilton, Hyatt, etc that is almost no different than the Hilton or Hyatt here in the US. And often it seems the trip is taken solely to fly in that airplane, and stay at that hotel – period. That’s not much value to me…get out and see the place and then report back…get lost in the Tokyo alleys, wander around the New Zealand countryside, etc

    I normally stay mostly at local places, especially non-chain local hotels. I want to get the character of the location, and get away from the same-old, same-old.

  17. Being an introvert vs. an extrovert is all about where you get your energy used up and recharged.

    Introverts are ultimately drained by contact and need to go to a quiet place to recharge, like a hotel room or the back corner of a lounge. Or perhaps 1A on a CX flight. After recharging they are able to go back out and interact with people.

    Extroverts get their energy from interacting with people. They are just fine in 13B, because they have someone on either side of them to talk too. When they crave interaction they head to the bar instead of the room. To them social interaction is stimulating.

    Most people fall somewhere on the continuum of extrovert/introvert and some straddle the line and can swing either way, so YMMV.

    If you are looking for me I’ll be in my room.

  18. As an introvert I don’t find it harder to travel. I’m fine exploring a city on my own. I go at my own pace. I don’t have to worry about someone else. I eat what I want and see what I want. I can eat all alone and I’m fine.

    My wife is an extrovert and a story explains our different point of views. I was in Portland not too long ago for a conference. The day after I went to explore the city on my own. I could have met with others but I wanted to recharge after the fun weekend. Found a great ice cream shop on Yelp. I got my ice cream and just sat inside the store using the free wifi. I was the only customer in the store. Had a great time.

    That same day my wife was craving ice cream too back in Florida. So she walked about five mins to ice cream shop. She told me she had to eat it fast cause it was melting fast in the Florida heat. I asked why she didn’t just eat it inside the store. She said no way cause she was the only customer! She felt uncomfortable sitting inside.

    But when we travel together we get along great.

  19. I’m digging this discussion… @Ryan, totally, I think you hit the nail with the comparison of hotel chains throughout the world. We forget that our “Western” version of travel is often simply an effort to re-create the at-home comforts we expect, elsewhere.

    That said, I’m headed to the Park Hyatt Maldives in December and can’t wait to relish in all the petrochemicals it’s gonna take to get us to that tiny island, transfer foods, make fresh water, and pipe in WIFI. Just so I can remember- in the future – how good we had it before the ocean took it all back thanks to Global Warming.

  20. I have a feeling many bloggers are leaving out the interesting parts of their trips. I’d like it if more bloggers would at least blog about what they did. I don’t know how many trip reports to bkk that Ive read that completely leave out whatever the blogger did. Really? No partying?

    Anyway, people mistaking introverts vs extrovert with adventurous vs non-adventurous above don’t understand the concept. There are many adventurous introverts doing wild and crazy things on their travels, but then not talking to the cab driver on the way back to the airport.

  21. This is very interesting topic – I tend to be situational -leaning more extrovert in my day to day and a mix when traveling. I dont think any one way is better.
    as a solo female traveler, I really enjoy meeting new people and experiencing the city/country but for security purposes need to be introverted sometimes depending on the culture. I’ve met great people along the way to enhance my travels some for ten minutes others over a few days which is why I started my blog to share our experience. it all depends on how open to new interaction/experience you want to be –

  22. What Mike said.

    Being an introvert is not about shyness — but it’s a lot easier to be a shy introvert than a shy extrovert.

    I am definitely an introvert, but I love to travel. I suspect travel is easier for Introverts, because we recharge during down time like on long flights with our headphones on and in our hotel rooms.

    I am shy with groups of people, but not with individuals. So I get enough social interaction talking with taxi drivers, hotel clerks, etc.; I actually enjoy making chit chat one-on-one. But I don’t need to; I’m happy out wandering in new locales all by myself.

  23. I’m definitely an introvert, although I still haven’t worked up the courage to travel for fun by myself. Hopefully someday.

    I totally agree that being an introvert and a frequent traveler are absolutely compatible, but I have trouble with some of the other parts of the “miles/points game” that require a bit of extroversion, like developing a rapport with booking agents and asking credit card phone reps to waive the annual renewal fee (I effing HATE talking on the phone with strangers, because I inevitably come across as an awkward weirdo). Working on getting over that hurdle, because the benefits clearly outweigh the few minutes of awkwardness!

  24. @lucky ohh up in the air my favorite movie which I cried a looot the first time watching because I saw myself in that mirror… I’m half introvert half extrovert… but mostly we tend to scape a bit from our rutinaries lifes and enjoy the path of traveling and then earning miles of course… I’ve met a lot of wonderfull people around the world but also I enjoy to travel alone overseas. Greetings from Venezuela ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Being an introvert helps during those long periods when you’re alone: at the airport, on the plane, on the train, etc. The thoughtfulness of introverts leads to writing better trip reports and travel blogs.

    Being an extrovert helps when you’re at an event and in other situations where you’re among strangers. So much of the experience of travel is the people you meet along the way. Every time I set out on a trip, I always think about the places I’m going to see. However, at the end of a trip, it’s the people I remember.

  26. I’m definitely an introvert. However, I’ve recently been traveling alone more and I’m finding I really dislike it. I don’t mind flying by myself (probably prefer it), but when actually exploring a place I tend to wish I had someone there to experience it with.

  27. i am an introvert. i chase experiences and tend not to talk to people on my travels, unless i need some information such as directions, specifics on something i want to see/am seeing/buying/eating etc.

    in fact, i ask the hotels not to call me “Mr. _____” when addressing me.

    i also dislike people talking to me when i am on a plane, train or bus, asking this and that.

  28. I’m a total extrovert and I do think it makes the frequent flying experience much much better.
    It’s my extrovert personality that makes me want to go out to the world and explore new places, people, food etc. Life would just too boring otherwise for me….

  29. When it comes to actual time on an airplane, bus, train, etc, it can require a lot of alone time. This is a part of traveling that I love most as an introvert, because I can enjoy being in motion while experiencing solitude.

    I would say that a lot of great experiences come from meeting new people whether they be locals or fellow travelers. People and their stories add the spice and flavor to the meat of traveling. Yet, traveling can be enjoyed through simple observation of being in a place you have never been before. Sometimes I wonder if the pressure to engage socially overshadows some of the fundamental joys of experiencing a new environment.

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