This article is about solo travel benefits as an ambivert. Up until recently, I considered myself an extrovert. In fact, I would also go as far as saying that anyone who knows me, would also consider me an extrovert.
I can hold my own in a crowd of new people. I can do things with confidence and have no trouble throwing down dance moves without a lick of alcohol. The other side of this is that I also love to be alone.
I have no problem spending days at home without any form of human contact. Sometimes I’d rather stay at home than go out socialising and can often feel guilty if I don’t spend my free time outside.
How Does Solo Travel Change You?
Solo travel can be a transformative and life-changing experience that can shape a person’s identity and beliefs. It can break individuals out of their comfort zones, expose them to new cultures and perspectives, and teach them essential skills such as resiliency, independence, and adaptability.
Here are some specific ways that solo travel can change you:
✔️ Increased Self-Confidence – Solo travel can help individuals develop a belief in their abilities, as they navigate new places and challenging situations on their own.
✔️ Expanded Perspective – Traveling solo exposes individuals to different cultures, customs, and ways of life. This experience can broaden one’s perspective, and open their eyes to different ways of seeing and living in the world.
✔️ Self-Discovery – Solo travel allows individuals to spend time with themselves, and reflect on their goals, desires, and values. This experience can help them better understand themselves and their place in the world.
✔️ Improved Social Skills – Solo travel encourages individuals to step outside of their comfort zones and interact with strangers. This experience can help develop social skills, making it easier to connect and communicate with others.
✔️ Greater Adaptability – Solo travel often involves navigating through unknown situations, which can help individuals develop problem-solving and adaptability skills.
Solo travel can be a valuable and transformational experience that improves self-confidence, cultural awareness, and personal development.
Is Solo Travel Good For Mental Health?
Solo travel can have many positive effects on mental health when done in a safe and healthy manner.
Here are some ways in which solo travel can be good for mental health:
✔️ Reducing Stress – Solo travel can be an excellent way to relieve stress by giving individuals a chance to escape everyday life and relax in a new environment.
✔️ Boosting Confidence – Solo travel can increase feelings of independence and self-reliance, which boost confidence and self-esteem.
✔️ Promoting Mindfulness – Solo travel encourages people to be present in the moment and truly immerse themselves in new experiences.
✔️ Reducing Anxiety – By facing and overcoming challenges on their own, solo travellers can reduce anxiety and build resilience.
Encouraging Creativity and Self-expression – Solo travel can give individuals the space and freedom to explore and express their creativity.
It should be noted, however, that solo travel may not be suitable for everyone and can also have negative effects on mental health when not done in a safe and healthy manner. Thus, it is essential to take necessary precautions such as planning, having emergency contacts, and taking regular check-ins.
Solo Travel Advantages and Disadvantages
✔️ Freedom and Flexibility: Solo travel allows you to create your itinerary, giving you the freedom and flexibility to explore at your pace.
✔️ Personal Growth: Traveling alone can allow you to push beyond your comfort zone, face and overcome fears, and develop essential skills, such as independence and resilience.
✔️ Self-Reflection: Solo travel provides time for self-reflection, giving you a chance to unplug and work on personal growth.
✔️ Cultural Immersion: Traveling alone allows you to fully immerse yourself in other cultures, enabling you to learn new perspectives, food, customs, and practices.
✔️ Meeting New People: Solo travel encourages you to make new friends, learn new things, and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
✔️ Budget-Friendly: Traveling alone can be less expensive since you can decide to cut expenses and prioritize the activities you wish to do.
✔️ Safety and Security: Solo travel poses more safety and security risks. Without someone to watch your back, you need to be more alert and vigilant.
✔️ Loneliness: For some people solo travel can be lonely, especially when staying for an extended period or in remote places.
✔️ Limited Support System: When you’re travelling alone, your support system consists mostly of strangers, and getting help might be a challenge.
✔️ Accommodation & Activity Costs: Travelling in a pair or group can reduce the amount you spend on accommodation and activities if they are costs you are able to split.
✔️ Responsibility and Stress: Planning and executing the entire trip by yourself is a significant responsibility, which can be stressful at times.
What Is An Ambivert?
An ambivert is a person who has a balance of both introverted and extroverted tendencies in their personality. This means that they can enjoy socializing and being around people, but also need alone time to recharge and may feel drained after too much social interaction.
They exhibit traits of both introverts and extroverts, depending on the situation they are in. For example, an ambivert may feel energized and confident when presenting to a large crowd but may also feel shy or overwhelmed in a new social setting.
Recently I watched a Ted Talk by Susan Cain, author of The Power Of Introverts in which she mentions Ambiverts. I wasn’t aware such a term existed but the definition certainly rang some bells.
Two ambivert quotes that resonated the most:
“My life is a constant struggle of wanting to go out and have fun with people and also simultaneously trying to avoid all human contact”
“Almost belonging everywhere, yet never quite belonging anywhere”
Ambivert or Omnivert
As I did a little research I found another word on the scale – Omnivert, the different definitions go like this:
An omnivert is someone who may exhibit the traits of both introverts and extroverts while an ambivert displays a balanced personality of the features of an extrovert and an introvert.
In reality, I think that there is somewhat of a sliding scale along the Introvert to Extrovert spectrum. And everyone is at slightly different points, I seem to sit somewhere in the middle.
Although I’m not a huge fan of people being put into boxes and feeling like they have to label themselves in one way or another, I think it’s important for us all to recognise that we all have different personality traits.
Trying to force people down a particular path is where I think a lot of society’s problems lie. Gender roles and the Western schooling system are appalling examples of this.
If you were the straight girl who wanted to wear boy’s clothes (yup, that was me) or vice versa. The kid who always wanted to skip gym class or the creative that hated academics, then I’m sure you know what I am talking about.
I can be extremely introverted when presented with a situation I don’t want to be in or don’t care about, but I can also thrive and be the life of the party when I’m enjoying myself. I can be both quiet and reserved or loud and outgoing.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I have a choice in these. It’s like my feelings take over and I need to force myself into solitude or social situations, for fear of having an inner meltdown.
Solo Travel Benefits As An Ambivert
Long-term travel was something that really hit me smack in the face. After a friend returned from Thailand with tales of his month-long adventure, I became curious about the idea of long-term Travel.
I had only visited a few places in Europe. Each for no longer than 1 week and I had never travelled alone. Without a second thought, my mind was made up, I would dive in headfirst and embark on my first round-the-world trip.
I applied for a 1-year working holiday visa in Australia and booked my flights. First stop? Thailand.
My Solo Travel Benefits As An Ambivert
Now, here lies the problem with having opposing personalities.
The confident “f*ck it” person often doesn’t think before they speak and acts mostly completely compulsively. This tends to put the more reserved me in very awkward situations.
Like I said before I can be extremely introverted in situations that I don’t want to be in. When I set off on a 12-month round-the-world trip to different continents and travel across countries that speak different languages, there were many situations that I didn’t want to be in.
Not only that, but I grew up on a small British Island with a population big enough to fit inside an English football stadium. Venturing to Australia’s two most populated cities, Sydney and Melbourne to look for a place to live and work, was daunting, to say the least.
Luckily in these situations, I can sometimes force my confident side to come out. Even if it means pretending to be confident in a situation where I’m really not. But this can be exhausting and the only way for me to recharge is to spend a significant amount of time alone.
Jekyll and Hyde aside, there are some positives to sitting in the middle of the Introvert – Extrovert spectrum.
You Don’t Often Suffer From Loneliness
If I’m on the road and have been away from my nearest and dearest for quite a long time, I don’t tend to suffer from homesickness. There were a couple of moments in the early days of my travelling, where I may have felt the effects of being so far away from everyone I knew.
If I’m feeling like I need to be social, I socialise. It’s now easier than ever to meet like-minded people, even for introverts.
With the power of the internet and social media, it’s as simple as double-clicking that Instagram post to interact with someone halfway around the world. When I need human interaction I can decide to what degree I need it.
I do this by either opening one of my apps or chatting to friends, booking into a hostel so that I’m more likely to meet new people. Or looking for social sites like Meetup where you can join groups on a huge variety of topics. That’s how I met many of my friends when I lived in New York.
I don’t remember the last time I felt truly lonely. When I get alone time I usually try to make the most of it by finding a great solo activity like hiking or skiing, or having some calm time reading, writing, eating out or going to the movies.
Go To The Movies Alone
When you go to see a movie, it’s meant to be about watching the film. Not socialising or talking during the screening. I love going to the cinema and the great thing about being comfortable when I’m totally alone is that I can just take myself to see the latest flick whenever the mood strikes.
A bunch of girlfriends in Maui asked me to join them on a short hike and were totally perplexed when I said I had plans to go to the cinema alone. Not only was I choosing to go alone, but I was choosing it over socialising, it was a concept that was completely foreign to all of them.
Being a huge foodie, if I’m visiting a new place and it has a particular restaurant I want to try, being alone is certainly not going to stop me. I’m more than happy to eat alone. Eating out is also a social event and I’m a massive fan of ordering multiple dishes and sharing.
I have actually been invited to join other tables while dining alone and had to awkwardly, politely decline. A lot of people see dining alone as weird, but I’m over here just wanting some QT with my Mexican Mole and spicy Margarita.
Travel Alone Or With People
I love travelling alone, mainly because I like my solitude and the option to have it. Travelling with another person means that you are together 24/7. As I tend to take trips of 3 weeks or longer, this is actually my idea of hell if it is not with a significant other.
Travelling with others tends to be more suitable for shorter trips. But it’s nice to have the option to do both and find a good balance to make each situation comfortable.
If I’m travelling alone and need social interaction I stay in hostels to meet new people. When I’ve had enough social time I book into a hotel or Air BnB. If I’m in a country where I have friends, I try to visit them.
Visit Big Cities Or Quiet Villages
For me, 3-4 days in a big city is the ideal amount of time. I love trying new food, exploring the music scene, visiting markets and meeting locals. But after that, I’m pretty wiped out and in need of some downtime.
I prefer to spend a lot of my time in much quieter places. I guess that’s why I enjoy being in the mountains. Big wide open spaces, towering peaks, expansive landscapes. And generally, much fewer people.
The Wrap-Up: Solo Travel Benefits as an Ambivert
I’m sure there’s a good portion of people who know me who think I’m weird. And it’s likely down to ambivert personality traits, sometimes I can seem confident, other times a little awkward.
No doubt people who have only met me once or twice will have very opposing views. Depending on if they met me on an extroverted or introverted day.
It may seem like having introvert and extrovert qualities is a perfect balance. The reality is that sometimes introverted me can’t keep up with extroverted me and having a torn personality can be quite overwhelming.
It can also be really difficult to explain to people that you just want to be alone. Especially to your extroverted friends who see you displaying the same traits as them and don’t understand the need for isolation. This is the reality of travel and solitude as an ambivert.
That being said, this isn’t a post to make you feel sorry for me. But I’m hoping it speaks to some of you that may have been feeling conflicted about your own personality traits. It’s ok to be the life and soul of the party and then to need complete seclusion. You’re definitely not alone.