October 13, 2016

An Introvert Abroad – Solo Travel With Others



I am an introvert and I love to travel. The opportunity to see new places, experience new things and try new foods are key factors in a fulfilling life for me. I love exploring and finding quiet spaces to watch the world go by. I love quirky architecture, hidden alleys, artistic graffiti (can’t stand the tagging kind). I love the sights and sounds, and some of the smells of new cities and towns.

I also like meeting new people, chatting to strangers about their travels, their home towns, their cultures, their lives. But not too much. I get tired easily. I am good with people but because I am an introvert, small talk and too many people fatigues me immensely.

The Introvert’s Dilemma

I’m now 9 days into my trip to Portugal and I’m exhausted. And I’m still yet to walk the 250km Camino to Santiago de Compostela! Granted, I’ve had a physical week and a half. Sintra had some serious hills, and while Lisbon was much flatter, I was still active.  It’s only today, my third in Porto, that I realise what the biggest source of fatigue has been – other people.

My first 4 nights were in hostels. Only on one of those nights did I sleep beautifully. This was the night I shared a room with one other person, a really lovely woman named Hilde. We clicked instantly and had some great conversations. The kind of conversations where an introvert actually feels energised afterwards. The other nights were noisy and crowded. I am now sleep deprived and over stimulated.

I’ve learned over the past year and a half of travel that I do best emotionally, and therefore physically, if I can have my own room. AirBnB has been a godsend for me. It’s generally an affordable way of traveling, on a budget, on you own. Hotels tend to penalise you for being single, and hostel rates for a single room are similarly ridiculous. I chose to stay mostly in hostel dorms this trip because I was doing shorter stays in cities. Therefore the per night rate on AirBnB was a bit higher (there are generally discounts the longer you stay) and/or the locations were not as convenient at the rates I was looking for.

I did have a wonderful 3 days in Lisbon though because I had my own room, the apartment space is chilled but cosy (uncluttered quaint furnishings) and the host, Mila, is the perfect mix of friendly and laid back. If you’re headed to Lisbon I recommend her apartment (it’s a couple of metro stops outside the city centre).

I used my time in Lisbon to recharge after Sintra, however, I went back to hostel accommodation 2 nights ago and now I’m exhausted again. The last 2 nights were in a mixed dorm and the snoring has been dreadful even with earplugs. Today I’m in the female dorm and hope to get a much more restful night!

Mental Health Day

Today I give myself permission to have a mental health day. The farthest I’ve traveled is around the corner to a cafe (Tasquinha dos Sabores) that was recommended to me for it’s soup and possibility of salad (vegetables are normally a considerable part of my diet, but bread seems to be the primary food source in Portugal!). I had a lovely potato and spinach soup (Sopa do dia), a plate of salady stuff (Salada Mista) , cod-fish fritters (Pataniscas de bacalhau) and a serve of roasted salty Padrón peppers. 🙂 It was far more food than I thought it would be but at least now I don’t have to worry about dinner!

After nourishing my body, I thought I should work on my mind. I’m reading Brené Brown’s “The Gifts Of Imperfection“. I love Brené’s work. Her stories are funny and relatable and her research findings are so important. I always feel uplifted and ready to jump back into the arena after reading or hearing from her. I also get so many insights into how/why I react to certain things, and how/why people important to me might act/be a certain way as well. It is a constant learning process and practice to live wholeheartedly.

Further to this, I’ve watched two Marie Forleo ‘Marie TV’ episodes – both interviews are with Entrepreneur/Creative/Blogger Grace Bonney. Episodes are here and here. Both are on work life balance, having your own business, the struggle to be yourself, and trying to not be everything to every one. Inspiring viewing.


Tomorrow is my last full day in Porto! And I’m staying in an AirBnB! Yay! My friend Dave arrives tomorrow afternoon from Sydney. He shall be jet-lagged to the eyeballs but we shall head out and explore and sample a few glasses of Port (I love the Branco/White Port that I’ve tried so far, and I’ve been a long time fan of Tawny Port). Then, on Saturday, we start our Camino!

We were going to start on Sunday, but the 12 km to Matosinhos is a nice way of seeing Porto and getting started on the path of St James, so we’ll head for here on Saturday.

I’m actually looking forward to the walk. I have no doubt it’ll be tiring, but it’s the good physical kind of tired, not the ‘I’m over stimulated and there are too many people here’ kind of tired. We will be staying in hostels, likely mixed dorm, but happily I’ve found my favourite industrial strength 3M Ultrafit ear plugs again (they were ‘lost’ in my handbag) so all is well 🙂

About the author 


Photographer, digital nomad, whisky lover.

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