My Introvert Way To Travel
Travelling is commonly described as the way to see new places, gain new experience and meet new people. Partly it is a “yes” from me. Out of the box introverts are put in, travelling is the possibility to escape continuous interaction. For me personally, travelling has always been not only the way to dive into new experience but also to escape an excess interaction with other people. Here is my Introvert Travel Guide.
For many people it is absolutely the same. Remember your last trip? Was the place new? Rich in new experience? How many new people have you met?
Young and free, I travelled a lot and every time I found myself in a new place. Now I tend to come back to the places, that offered me so unique experience, I am eager to repeat it.
On the other hand, I don’t take travelling merely as a solo trip or need of isolation, as the Internet tries to sell it for me. I don’t need a retreat when I travel. I just need a bit of space around me (and my family).
Despite the persistent Myths about the introvert lifestyle, introverts don’t always live and travel alone. Of course, I feel better in the group of similar people. Usually, this group grows slowly and fluctuates over years: a BF or two, a fiance or spouse, then may be couple of children. (I will once share my notes about introvert family life as well). Introverts live and move in small groups (I’ve seen as many as four introverts bonded in a group).
Of course, there are classic introvert destinations, which are known all over the Internet, like Nordics (Finland, Norway, Iceland). Once I’ve run across the statement, that most Finns are introverts. I would not sign that. I am a Finn and I am an introvert. But I would claim, that lacking of social skills, not acknowledging the culture of small talk as well as poor language skills do not qualify for introversion. Introversion is a choice, not a disability.
I suspect, that main part of the “Top Destination For Introverts” – articles are written by non-introverts. Why? Take Helsinki. May be for a NYC introvert the city looks empty. As a Finn, I feel like: “Thanks God, we don’t have to live here” – every time I visit the city. From a rural Finnish point of view the city is messy and crowded. It’s true, local don’t visit their exhibitions and museums very often, so the only life there is a group of Chinese or Japanese tourists. (This article is rather good anyway 10 Places Every Introvert Should Visit in Their Lifetime).
But still, let’s check on the other possibilities…
Nordics are easy to keep clear of tourists as most of these countries’ sights are very hard to reach. The potential tourist needs some special equipment and extensive hiking skills to be able to enjoy the sites. It’s cold there most part of the year, and the weather is very changeable. But no worries, this special equipment is sold in supermarkets here. Not that it will come cheap.
Travelling around the corner felt a bit dull, so we usually targeted some more distant sites. That’s why I have no particular experience about other Nordic capitals than Helsinki and Stockholm. I’ve been in Copenhagen for few hours many times actually, but never had time to explore it carefully. Oslo we drove through once. At night 🙂
Best time for visit: Summer for most destinations.
Population density 16.3 person per sq.km
To see the very best of Finland, you need to move inland. Or to the West along the coast. Or North. Anyway, away from the capital. Bubbling life fountain turns into a whispering spring 50 km away from Circle III. There real Finland begins.
Finns are not all introverts, but they are quite shy thanks for culturally cultivated “Don’t you dare!”-behaviour. So, you are safe. If asking for help, you will most likely get some (the younger the person is, the higher is the possibility they speak English), but nobody will interfere your personal space without permission.
Finland boasts its unspoilt nature sites. Some less known destinations like Parks & Wildlife Finland (Kolin kansallispuisto) in North Karelia, hiking trails like Paimion Hiking Path (Paimion polku) or Turku Archipelago (Turun saaristo) in Southwest Finland, Kumpeli Spa in Heinola, Central Finland.
After all, travelling in Finland is introvert-friendly. Only avoid Helsinki downtown in rush hour and after-ski parties. Note: late June to mid-August is vacation time, so rush hour in Helsinki is 24/7.
Best time for visit: late May to mid-September.
Population density 23 persons per sq.km
While Helsinki is relatively narrow and stuffed, with zero attractions out of its downtown, Stockholm is quite different with its royally wide roads and plenty of pedestrian space. A bit out of city the architecture is still nice, but tourist density drops to zero. The rest of Swedish coast as well as its inland boasts very low tourist activity per square kilometre while landscapes are breathtaking. Note: avoid ski centres!
Best time for visit: April – October.
Population density 3.4 person per sq.km
Possibility of interaction is close to absolute zero.
I’ve got intrigued with Iceland’s top rating in introvert travelling lists, so I put it on my bucket lists.
Best time for visit: Summer.
Note: the picture belongs to World Travel Guide.
Population density 13.9 person per sq.km
Still not bad in the meaning of population density and landscapes. I didn’t have an opportunity to explore the country yet, so my bucket list gets one more entry.
Note: the picture belongs to Depositphotos.
The countries just behind the corner where I love to travel are these three Baltic countries. They are not that empty as Finland or Sweden, but still are very introvert-friendly.
Population density 28 persons per sq.km
Estonia is a tiny country with more introvert density than Finland. The only word you have to learn from their language is Tere! = Hello! So, you will be able keep it polite in every situation. No fear of being served in the shops or approached in the street. You have to make an effort to have any interaction. An Estonian will help, but will not wait to hear you thanking them. So, even shopping is safe. Note: beware expensive boutiques in the downtown Tallinn!
Tallinn is a relatively small city. The only two places I know which are crowded are: Old Town (in summer) and a tram stop front of Kaubamaja (all year round).
In the full post about Estonia I will share more details about more distant sites worth visiting: beaches, rural restaurants, coastal towns, castles. Just in case you would like to be absolutely alone on the beach.
Estonia is so small, it takes 2 hours to cross it North-South or 3 hours East-West.
Best time for visit: Summer. In case summer comes that year.
Population density 34.3 person per sq.km
Just when you’ve done with Estonia, here comes Latvia. A bit more inhabited, but still not spoilt with crowds. A glorious and warm afternoon in Riga. June 2018. Old Town – right, Downtown – left.
Perfectly empty shopping centers with all possible discount ongoing. I love Riga!
Jurmala offer perfect beaches, while not that empty as in Tallinn. But still plenty of space to breath.
Best time to travel: April to October.
Population density 43 persons per sq.km
Lithuania is a bit same and a bit different. Lithuanians are very warm people, but they are welcoming you in the way, you feel the warmth but not pressure. No unwanted interaction.
We have never been in Vilnius, always luckily escaped any necessity to visit the capital. Kaunas was always enough.
Best time to travel: April to October.
Population density 123 persons per sq.km
We’ve been in Warsaw once: first and last time. It is an introvert hangover. Luckily, real Poland consist of tiny towns, all with their extraordinary twist.
Gdansk is a bit more complicated place to visit, as tourists flow there is quite dense. But it is a one month problem – August is the vacation period all over Europe. Other time mostly locals fill the gaps.
Zakopane has the same problem: August is hiking hell, March-April – skiers fill the slopes. All other time the area is empty. Read: introvert-friendly.
As I didn’t find any common language with skies: we went different direction from the very first time I tried the sport. So, we travel in Zakopane during hiking season, May to October. Just avoiding August.
Europe is supposed to be rather crowded as it is one of the oldest fortresses of the the current historical era. Still, the place is not that stuffed as it’s possible to believe. And it’s not only rural parts of France and Italy, that are considered to be mot popular relaxed travelling destinations. There are a lot of very introvert-friendly sites with picturesque sea views and favourable climate.
Population density 232 persons per sq.km
German population density should scare every introvert away. But it is not all true. May be, Berlin is really what they say: a site sparkling life day to night. I’ve been to Frankfurt (on business) and in the rural part of Germany. Life dies there same time than in Finland: about 17.00.
Population density 114.5 person per sq.km
The Southern part of Portugal, Algarve, is 100 km long and boasts picturesque and peaceful beaches, hiking tracks, mountains – pretty everything. And it is mostly empty. There are few huge hotels around Albufeira, Portimao and Vilamoura, that stuffs beaches front of them. Usually, people who stay in the hotel complex, which accommodate some 5000 clients at a time, do not spread out of the hotel designated area. Sure, they visit Old Town, Downtown Shopping and other central destinations. So, it’s quite easy to avoid them.
Some places in Algarve are really crowded from mid-July to mid-September, but all other time it is a very relaxed place for a vacation.
Due to its very favourable climate visit time is 365 days a year.
Population density 84.6 person per sq.km
Never mentioned in any list, this peninsula boast breathtakingly beautiful nature and hidden gems of human history. It is quite complicated to visit it at the moment due to unclear border rules between Russia and Ukraine. But the place itself lives its peaceful life.
The Black Sea coast is rather crowded in July and August, but out of vacation season it is absolutely safe place for an introvert.
Around the World
Travelling the World can be really supsiring. Apparently, it is never possible to know, what the new country hides behind its tourist paths.
Population density 145 persons per sq.km
China is so huge in area, that 1.4 billion of people just dissolves there. Chinese are supposed to be very extrovert, but they are mostly rather shy. The deeper into Inland, the more we were stared (we are all three blondes), and the shier the locals turned. They don’t interact, just stare and smile.
We have visited a lot of China, from the introvert hell of Shanghai to the very Chinese site of Wutong Mountain. Shenzhen area is huge, offering like everything from basic tourist activities to beaches. The area is historically a newborn: founded in 1989. So, in Chinese measurements, is it still very spacey and empty. 100 mln people are not able to fill it to the edge of its capacity.
Shenzhen Safari Park, Wildlife Zoo, Guangdong. This video is made from a cage-car, which drives people through the area, where animals live. Tigers in Shenzhen Safari Park – That’s how we should visit animals in the zoo.
Surprising Entry: Barbados
Population density 660 persons per sq.km
The tiny Caribbean island should be stuffed with people. In reality, only its main city, Bridgetown, can boast any noticeable local and tourist activity. The rest on the island is kind of virgin. Locals move to the capital to work in the morning, and back home in the evening. Tourists dismiss the most of inland sightseeing and picturesque beaches a mile away from the downtown.
Tourist crowds disembark from the cruise ships to wander around the pedestrian street for couple of hours, then spread as a saggy mass along the bars. Done! The gems of Barbados remain untouched.
What I like about Barbadians, is their friendly but distant attitude to the tourists. It should have something to do with their British legacy. They are polite and respectful with no servile hue as well as self-assertive, but not arrogant. Barbadians love and praze their country, and it shows, but they never despise any other nationality.
So, I can relax perfectly there.
Places, Which I Didn’t Quite Get
Great Britain, Glastonbury
Population density 302 persons per sq.km
I’ve run across Glastonbury for few times in different lists. Why Glastonbury? I would prefer highland Scotland or Wales, at least. Please, educate me, why the place is considered to be introvert friendly.