5 Places for Introverts to Visit
Sometimes the Best Traveling Companion is Yourself
By Courtney Guth, University of Maryland
Introvert: it means more than you probably think. Whenever I try to explain to someone that I am introverted, I often get the same response. “But…Courtney, you’re not shy,” he or she will protest. This confusion then results in a sometimes lengthy discussion of what it means to be an introvert versus an extrovert.
Yes, I am not shy. However, this personality trait does not discredit the fact I find great solace in spending time alone with my thoughts. I often need time alone in order to recharge after spending time out with other people. For example, if I go out with friends for a few nights in a row, I enjoy taking some time to just relax alone in my apartment for a while.
Introverts can be shy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being shy. However, I have found a common misunderstanding that introversion and shyness are synonymous. A quick Google search reveals that the psychological definition of introvert means “a person predominantly concerned with his or her own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.” In other words, one who takes time to reflect internally.
So what’s the best place to reflect internally? While I could list several destinations to travel to, chances are you already have some places you want to visit in mind. The scenery of each place may differ, but the internal reflection process remains the same. Therefore, I am providing you with five places common to most cities or destinations that I think will stimulate your thoughts and provide you with some peaceful alone time:
Bookshop: What better way to collect your thoughts than to read the thoughts of others? Browsing a bookshop is a blissful way to spend some time alone. Many bookshops are accommodating enough to provide comfy seating or cozy corners for you to relax in, so feel free to sit down and preview a book for a few chapters before you decide to buy. If buying books is not in your budget, then a library works just as well. There is just something relaxing about being surrounded by the written word. Get lost in the rows and rows of shelves. Without a companion, you needn’t worry about anyone judging you for your literary tastes. Go ahead and pick up that somewhat trashy novel that everyone is talking about. Never feel ashamed for wanting to read.
Park: Most cities have a park of some sorts or even several. On a beautiful day, I find that there is no better place to be than outside. Soak up the sun as you revel in your thoughts.You can lay in the grass or take a stroll. When I traveled alone to New York City recently, I devoted a large chuck of my morning to exploring Central Park. I had been through Central Park many times before, but traveling alone was different. I was free to go wherever I wanted and just take in everything. I ended up walking over 20 blocks away from where I began and saw parts of the park that I never had during family trips. I enjoyed the opportunity to just set out on a path and discover where it would lead me. Let your mind wander as much as you do.
Cafe: I find no shame in dining at a table for one. It can be a little awkward at first since we are so accustomed to going out and dining with others. But who says you can’t enjoy a meal out by yourself? People dine alone at home all the time. Once you get over the stigma, it can be an enjoyable experience. You won’t have to fuss over splitting the check or deciding what to order. You are free to indulge yourself in whatever meal you want to eat. Last month, I was flying alone and had four hours to kill at the airport because my flight was delayed. I knew I would need to eat, so I decided to treat myself. I made my way to one of the nicer restaurants in the concourse and unabashedly asked for a table for one. I ordered myself a drink and their special appetizer sampler. It was one of the best meals I have had. Explore the nicer cafes or restaurants in your city. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a good meal from time to time.
Movie Theatre: I don’t know about you, but I often watch movies when I am alone at home. If I settle in for a night on the couch, chances are it involves Netflix and some popcorn. You can heighten your movie viewing experience by enjoying a movie in the cinema. Almost any destination has one. How many times have you had the “Well, what should we see?” discussion. Going to the movies becomes an ordeal. You begin debating shows and showtimes. When you go alone, it’s all on your time. You can see whatever you want to see whenever you want to see it. Sure, it is fun to go to with a date or a friend and discuss the film afterwards. However, when you go alone, you don’t have anyone else to influence your opinion. The whole experience is yours alone. Bonus: you don’t have to share your popcorn either. If you’re really up for a challenge, you can attempt a double feature (two movies in one afternoon).
Museum: Of all the items on this list, I think going to a museum by myself is my favorite introvert activity. When I go to a museum with others, I often feel pressured to keep moving through the museum. When I go to a museum by myself, I can take time to read and observe at my own pace. Sometimes I skim through an exhibit. Sometimes I to thoroughly read the informational plaques. On my own, it does not matter what I do. The quietness of a museum lends itself to thinking and personal reflection. You can find a museum for just about anything, so find one that interests you and make and afternoon of it.