I have an upcoming trip to Ireland and Scotland in the next few weeks and I’m so excited. Both countries are part of my heritage and both are on my bucket list. Though I’ve travelled extensively throughout North America, this will be my first foray into international travel.
Knowing how limited my energy is on a daily basis, I wanted to prepare for the trip in advance. Here are a few things I’ll be trying to do. If you have any additional tips or tricks, I’d love to hear them.
1. Schedule quiet time.
As an introvert with limited energy, quiet time is essential. Factor in a busy travel day at the airport filled with security and customs stress, busy corridors full of people, and blaring announcements every few seconds, and quiet becomes even more necessary.There’s the stress of making decisions or having to adjust to last-minute changes or delays. I know how over-stimulated I get when travelling. I will make it a priority to check in with myself periodically and assess how much energy I have. If I’m low on energy, I’ll be proactive about it. I might need to take a bathroom break or escape to a relatively quiet corner of the airport and put my headphones in. I’ll also be keeping myself fuelled with healthy food and water.
2. Do your research.
As an introvert, I need to know what’s going on ahead of time. I thoroughly research flights, accommodations, transportation, and attractions in advance. I look up how to get to/from the airport, nearby restaurants and cafes, grocery store locations, etc. I print and organize my itinerary and write down relevant contact information I might need. By knowing these things ahead of time, it allows me to enjoy the experience as I’m not distracted by the ‘what ifs’. Obviously things can and do change, but I’ve done my part to create a less stressful experience.
3. Bring a journal.
I’m going to take a moment each day to record what I did that day, people I met, and my thoughts and feelings. Writing down any fears, uncertainties, or frustrations can help me process those feelings. Writing down all the good things will help me remember them. I’ll also be bringing my camera and taking photos and video for my friends and family who aren’t able to come. However, as much as I love taking photos, I always make sure to put down the camera for a while and just drink in the experience.
4. Choose your adventure based on your energy.
When it comes to attractions, I’ll typically make two lists. The first is must-see attractions or events. These I will usually schedule into my day. The second list is additional things I can do if I have the energy. But I try to keep things fairly flexible as I don’t know what my energy will be like at any given moment. If I’m already feeling drained, going on that crowded tour probably isn’t wise. Perhaps a nice scenic hike would be a better option.
5. Do little things that make life easier.
If I’m taking a plane, I always try to get an aisle seat. It’s the perfect escape route and you’re not crammed in between two strangers. To make flight transitions easier, I only take carry-on luggage and I don’t check any bags. I also (try to) pack everything a couple of days in advance and prepare lots of healthy snacks the night before. Along with alleviating stress, it also allows me to get a full nights rest. I always bring my headphones, a book, and earplugs (perfect for the flight or to block out noisy roommates).
Do you have any other helpful tips for an introvert abroad?