As my tag line professes, I am a frugal introvert. In other words, I’m a budget, solo traveler who needs less socializing and stimulation and more alone time than extroverts. These two qualities don’t seem like they’d be compatible. How to reconcile the needs of an introvert with the challenges of travel, especially on a budget?
“Introvert” is a relatively broad term defined with variations on the idea of someone who gets overwhelmed by too much activity, be it socializing or even just being in a crowded and/or noisy place. In order to avoid feeling drained and uncomfortable, introverts need to know their limits in terms of how long they can handle these situations. Plus, we need a lot of time by ourselves doing something relaxing and/or creative to recharge.
Travel involves a lot of things that are taxing to introverts. These include being in unfamiliar and unpredictable situations, crowds and noise, socializing with new people regularly, and navigating a foreign land. For budget travelers, there are the added issues of things like dorm rooms and Couchsurfing, public transportation and hitchhiking, and the noise, crowds and smaller spaces that generally accompany budget-friendly areas.
An oxymoron, if you remember from grammar class, is a figure of speech in which the terms or ideas seem to contradict each other. Simple examples include “jumbo shrimp”, “deafening silence”, and “alone together”. When applied to travel, “frugal introvert” definitely seems like an oxymoron! Oxymorons don’t appear to make sense, yet we understand them and use them all the time. In the same way, while a frugal introverted traveler doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, with a little understanding, it works out.
Here are some of the travel tricks I use to make sure I take care of my needs as an introvert while keeping to my low budget.
Traveling in the offseason is almost essential to me. It helps with both aspects of my travel oxymoron: it’s cheaper and less crowded! Check out my post on the topic for more.
Avoid Busy/Touristy Destinations
If you do want to travel during peak season (really, this applies anytime though), consider choosing a destination with less tourist traffic. In fact, less traffic in general! Avoiding big cities and popular spots mean fewer people to deal with and fewer stress factors for introverts. I recommend someplace with a lot of wide open natural beauty to explore. Click here for 5 of my favorite introvert-friendly places.
Again, this is an option that helps both my introvert needs and budget. House sitting is basically an exchange of free lodging at someone’s home while they are away in exchange for caring for that home and often a pet or pets. “Free” is always a happy word in budget travel 🙂 Plus, you get the privacy an introvert craves and, usually, the cuddles of an animal to help you recharge. Learn all about house sitting here.
Noise canceling headphones are a necessity for introverts. They can help cut down on overstimulation by blocking out noise you may not be able to avoid and letting others know that you don’t want to chat. Plus, you can play relaxing music or a podcast or audiobook (get 2 free when you try Audible here!) to further help you recharge. I love my wireless earbuds with their own small charging case!
Avoid Group Tours
Group tours are a very common way to travel. They have their benefits and are especially attractive to new travelers and/or those who don’t want to have to worry about arranging anything themselves. However, group tours by definition involve groups. It may be too much for introverts to be around crowds of people all day. Group tours are also generally more expensive than what you can put together yourself. Plus, with a DIY tour, you can tailor it to your own interests and needs.
I always like to try the local cuisine when I travel but eating out all the time add up. If you are staying somewhere with access to a kitchen (like a hostel, some Airbnb rentals, or a house sit), cooking for yourself is a whole lot cheaper! Introvert bonus: you avoid crowds and noise and the awkwardness of eating alone in a restaurant.
Even if you don’t have a full kitchen, you can cook simple meals like these, that only require boiling water, with just an electric kettle (I use this collapsible one with dual voltage – perfect for travel!).
Introversion lends itself well to slow travel and long-term travel. Giving yourself the time to not feel like you have to pack every day with sightseeing and activities to fit in everything you want to do. As a digital nomad, basically someone who can work from anywhere with a laptop, you can use some of your alone time to earn money and rebuild your budget. Check out 5 easy jobs anyone can do anywhere in my post on becoming a digital nomad.
So while being a frugal introvert is a travel oxymoron, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you’re an introvert on a budget, I hope these suggestions will help you reconcile the seemingly contradictory qualities to get out there and explore!
*This post includes one or more affiliate links. I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you purchase a product or service through one of these links. Find out more here.*
- 5 Amazing Travel Destinations for Introverts
- 5 Websites Every Budget Traveler Needs to Know
- Top 5 Travel Tips for Introverts
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