Pockets of solitude: 7 perfect places for introverted travelers

Pockets of solitude: 7 perfect places for introverted travelers

    Getting away is supposed to be relaxing, but for introverts, when your trip turns into a long string of social events and awkward conversations with randos who just don’t get that you might be sitting alone on purpose…you might come home feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.

    Of course, you can make any trip work for your needs as long as you plan well. Just knowing your limits and giving yourself ample time to recharge in a quiet place (or embracing slow travel) can go a long way.

    But to really get away from the extroverted world and not feel pressured to socialize more than you want, here are a few especially introvert-friendly places around the world. From ditching pointless conversations to avoiding human interaction altogether, you can decide just how much alone time is right for you.

    Note: You don’t have to travel solo to have a great trip as an introvert - I usually prefer to bring a travel buddy who’s comfortable being “alone together” with me. But for really getting away for some quality “me time,” it’s worth giving solo travel a try. Any of these options would be great for a solo traveler, but here’s one for beginners.

    Go solo in New Zealand

    For a first-time solo traveler (especially an introverted one), you can’t really beat New Zealand. (Yep, you’re allowed to go without a band of elves, dwarves and hobbits.)

    Consistently rated in the top 5 of the Global Peace Index, NZ’s about as safe as you can get for venturing out on your own. Heck, you don’t even have to worry about dangerous animals attacking you out in the wild (though the redback spider can be deadly, at least to small children, so I guess don’t completely let your guard down).

    It’s also super easy to get around, with just one main highway and really good infrastructure. So you can rent a vehicle and go on a mega road trip - it’ll just be you, the car, and some gorgeous scenery.

    And this is really a “choose your own adventure” opportunity. While you can definitely find lots of friendly locals on your journey, you can also make it as people-free as you want by staying in sparsely populated places the whole time. But don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty to do and see.

    For example, Akaroa on the South Island has a population in the hundreds, but you’ll find lots of great hiking trails and ocean access. You might even catch a glimpse of the world’s smallest dolphin…which is just too adorable.

    You could also try some white-water rafting in Taihape (pop. about 1,800) or surfing in Raglan (pop. about 3,000).

    Shun small talk in Finland

    Finland is consistently ranked one of the happiest countries in the world, and I can’t help wondering whether the fact that they discourage small talk there has something to do with it…

    Yep, you read that right. There’s essentially no small talk in Finnish culture. In fact, unnecessary chatter is impolite.

    It’s not because Finns are shy. After all, they’re pretty comfortable getting fully nude in saunas. They just recognize (like I wish everyone would) that pointless weather chit-chat is unnecessary, and if you’re going to have a conversation, it should be about something that matters.

    Even for those of us who cringe at small talk, it’s hard to imagine not being expected to do it. But in a country where there’s no such thing as an awkward silence, it’s a glorious reality.

    Hating small talk isn’t the only overlap between Finnish culture and introversion. If you enjoy the Introvert Doodles webcomics, you should probably check out Finnish Nightmares. Featuring “nightmarish” scenarios like having to self-promote or ask for help while shopping, they’re just as relatable.

    Plus, in Finland, they really respect your space.

    You’ve got lots of opportunities to enjoy all that extra space, too, whether you choose to stay in Helsinki with the chance of a whole island to yourself, or head out into the deep solitude of Lapland to catch aurora borealis or do some cross-country skiing.

    Get lost in the crowd in Tokyo

    Tokyo, with its population over 14 million, might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about an introvert-friendly trip, but hear me out.

    Even though there’s lots of hustle and bustle around, you can find pockets of quiet and solitude.

    For one thing, you can eat by yourself without anyone bothering you and or weird looks from the wait staff. In fact, it’s totally normal; Sushi and ramen bars make it easy to avoid having to ask for a table for one.

    You can take it a step further and dine in total solitary bliss at this ramen place, which has individual booths. 

    Other than a brief interaction with a waiter at the beginning of the meal, you get to savor your bowl of umami deliciousness without having to talk to (or even look at) another living soul.

    And while there might be a ton of people riding public transportation with you, they’re unlikely to strike up a conversation. *Cue sigh of relief.* 

    You can also find a few peaceful shrines and temples where you can get away from it all. Or you can hide away behind the shelves of Book and Bed, which I featured in my article about bookish destinations.

    Either way, you’ll find no shortage of alone time.

    Get cozy in Copenhagen

    If you haven’t yet discovered the now-famous Danish concept of hygge, prepare yourself. It’ll totally rock your introverted world.

    It doesn’t translate directly, but it has to do with coziness. But like, extreme coziness.

    VisitDenmark explains it this way: “In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cozying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too.”

    Hygge doesn’t necessarily require you to be alone, but it does involve swapping out big, wild parties for more intimate group gatherings or spending time just being happy and comfortable. Sounds like the best kind of introvert recharging to me, and it’s totally built into the culture.

    You’ll find no shortage of hygge activities in Copenhagen. Here are some ideas to get you started:

    • Rent a bike and ride solo around the city.
    • Bring your travel buddy or a book to a local coffee shop - or head to a book cafe.
    • Have a quiet candle-lit dinner.
    • Enjoy a dreamy stroll around King’s Garden.

    Once you’ve experienced Danish hygge, you can’t go back. It seeps into your soul, and you’ll want to bring it back with you and make lots of time for warmth and coziness at home. 

    You can also get some help with that from the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute (sounds like a nice job, huh?), who published a popular guide to Hygge a few years ago.

    Get your creative juices flowing in Latvia

    Like the Finnish, Latvians value alone time and quiet, and they often joke about how far they’ll go to avoid awkward conversations.

    But in Latvia, it’s not just quiet for quiet’s sake. The culture really prizes creativity, and they feel like the best way to be creative is to have space and time to yourself.

    Over the last few decades, they’ve been especially proud of their groundbreaking and experimental literature. As an introverted reader, I’m definitely a fan of this banner that proudly hung outside the Latvian embassy in D.C. a couple of years ago.

    I know not all introverts are necessarily creative, but since a lot of us mostly live in our heads, plenty of us have a project or two in the works. 

    Whether you’re an aspiring writer, artist, baker, etc., taking a creative getaway to this Baltic country is sure to be productive.

    For something a bit more directed (if you’re okay with some human interaction), you can book with a retreat company like Wild’ness Collective or even try for a residency (and get paid to live out your artistic dreams in Latvia).

    Or just nab a secluded cabin for a week or two and go for it.

    Latvia’s low population and dense forests mean that solitude is easy to find, and you definitely won’t get weird looks for walking around on your own to take inspiration from gorgeous city streets, a fairytale castle or an otherworldly bog.

    To get in some deep relaxation, you can also get a personalized treatment and quiet meditation time at Taka Spa, one of the largest spas in the Baltics. If that doesn’t get things flowing, I don’t know what will.

    Soak in the quiet of the Oregon Coast

    I’m the type of person who likes to stand alone at the edge of the ocean and contemplate my place in the universe (or just hunt for pretty shells), so I’d rather skip a crowded beach of sunbathers and loud volleyballers. 

    Enter: the Oregon coast.

    With an evergreen forest backdrop and frequent cloud cover, there are tons of blissfully uncrowded beaches, prime for quiet meditation or straight-up brooding.

    And with tons of weird and wonderful stuff to explore, the solo walk possibilities are endless.

    Sure, the water tends to be a bit chilly and you might get a bit of rain, but in my experience that’s just a good excuse to end the day with a cozy bread bowl of clam chowder from Mo’s. Don’t worry, you can get some chowder to go if the restaurant is too crowded for your taste. (Get a family-sized serving. Trust me on this.)

    Trade people for wildlife in the Galápagos Islands

    Maybe the dancing, parades, and jam-packed streets of Carnival in Brazil aren’t for you, but South America has lots to offer those who prefer alone time in nature.

    An especially good spot for introverts is the Galápagos.

    For one thing, it’s a bit tricky (and a little pricey) to get there, so tourism is relatively limited (which is a good thing for conservation). The region only gets about 250,000 tourists per year (versus around 700,000 in Quito and 2 million in Ecuador as a whole). 

    So, needless to say, you’re unlikely to run into crowds.

    Visiting the Galápagos is all about quietly observing nature and wildlife. From moving slow next to a giant tortoise at Rancho Primcias to snorkeling with sea lions, you can make sure most of your encounters don’t involve other humans.

    Maybe you’ll find that the Galápagos or one of the other places I’ve listed here are an introvert’s natural habitat. But there are lots of places out there to spend some quality time with yourself, and it never hurts to check whether a place is good for solo travel (especially if you're a solo female traveler). 

    If you’re not planning to go it alone, make a plan with your travel companions to ensure you get the time you need to yourself and don’t come back as a peopled-out zombie. 

    And even when you get a weird look or two for eating alone or putting on your huge headphones on the bus, remember that there’s nothing wrong with knowing and caring for your lil’ introverted self.