Contributed by The Bisaya Traveler
Growing up as an introvert in the Philippines was, by no means, a walk in the park. Back then, the Filipino society had no clue about introversion and was bought into unflattering introvert stereotypes. Every day, I had to face a bunch of judgmental childhood friends and relatives who often viewed me as a stuck-up, anti-social weirdo. Since we prefer to keep a low profile, many misguided souls believed that all introverts are shy and disinterested people who don’t know how to interact with others.
As a matter of fact, one of my neighbours once said that I will never have a flourishing career because I was an introvert. Likewise, a relative told me that I may never get married if I continue to go with my introverted ways. A couple of decades later, I got married, and have been thriving in life with a freelancing gig.
As much as I hate to admit it, introverts just don’t get the respect that we deserve. Not only are we, introverts, misunderstood in our country, but there’s a lack of representation in the local media as well. Let’s face it, we have an over-sharing and group-oriented culture that loves the bright lights and noise. For years, we’ve been lurking behind the scenes and often underrepresented by an extrovert-centric, always-loud, Kris Aquino-organized world.
But, guess what? Introverts are crawling slowly and quietly out of the pit that the Filipino society shoved us into. Today, more and more introverts are coming out of their closets, thumping their chests, and making a mark in the world. From leaders to technological innovators, there are tons of introverts within the archipelago that have been successful in different fields.
As a bona fide travel junkie, I must say travelling is one of those fields where we can truly prosper. On the surface, travelling feels like an activity geared for the extroverted types. But in reality, introverts are better travellers than their outgoing counterparts since they know where they fit in and they are constantly aware of their environment.
Here are, to me, the reasons why introverts make great travellers.
Introverts are great readers
Just because introverts don’t say much, it doesn’t mean we’re totally clueless. While others are pretty busy chatting, we tend to observe things that most folks are oblivious to. Sometimes, we can even read everyone in our surroundings. Even though it seems we are always zoned out, introverts are actually analyzing as well as thinking of creative ideas, to make things easier on our end.
Personally, I think the ability to read someone is an essential skill in travelling, especially when you’re in a foreign land. After all, knowing how to read people will help you determine if the shop owner is giving you the best bargain or if the taxi cab driver is really taking a shortcut.
Introverts have an undying thirst for knowledge
There’s more to travelling than the fabulous Instagram snaps and jaw-dropping sights. As far as I’m concerned, travelling is one of the best forms of education, helping me get a better view of the world from different perspectives. Yes, sun bathing on a powdery beach isn’t exactly intellectually stimulating, but a walk along a historic site or a trek to remote highland is something that we crave.
Since we see the world in a different light, we get to test the limits of our bodies and mind by taking in the cultures, personalities and language of the folks surrounding us. We study the links between people and land, as well as pull lessons from our past trips to understand further the experience and the world.
We can keep our cool in the middle of a storm
From our airport’s typical flight delays to wrong turns, there are a lot of inevitable and unforeseen obstacles as well as hiccups along the way, in every adventure. And though these challenges can irritate anyone, we are just happy to go with the flow, and find something positive in every negative situation. Remember, losing our cool is not in our innate nature. Every time we face a problem on the road, we just pull out a book or read of a magazine, while waiting.
We listen to our surroundings
Introverts are far better than extroverts, when it comes to listening. And with our incredibly ability to listen, we get to understand quickly the complexities of a place as well as seamlessly learn its culture. We don’t force ourselves onto the place we’re visiting, but we let ourselves blend into it gently.
We can do things on our own
Self-sufficiency is an important skill in travelling. When you travel, you’ll often find yourself on our own, without a familiar face to help you out in times of trouble. You have to trust your instincts and rely on your abilities to make sure that you stay safe and have everything you need for your trip. And with our self-sufficient nature, introverts can practically do a plethora of things in our trip, without the need to rely on someone else.
We can blend in easily
As an introvert, there’s nothing more I like to do than to blend in with the crowd, whether it’s on an international city or a hike with my crew, Team Bang. Sticking out, being in the spotlight is a big no-no for me. As with most great travellers, I have mastered the art of vanishing into unfamiliar spots, immersing myself fully in the environment, and becoming one with the place I’m visiting.
We learn by watching
We, introverts, prefer to watch from the sidelines, checking out what’s going on and learning some stuff, without being the center of attention. We cherish the simple pleasures of travel, by watching and learning the culture of the place we’re visiting.
Introverts don’t mind being solo
Extroverts prefer to go in flocks. In other words, they will have a difficult time enjoying restaurant meals, treks, theatre plays and museums, unless they have a few buddies with them to take about these travel experiences. I and other introverts, on the other hand, can have a blast catching a movie, visiting a gallery, and enjoying a soda, all by ourselves.
Moreover, we can come up with an array of ways to entertain ourselves in long-haul flights and 8-hour bus rides. Honestly, I can have a fun time for hours with just a book in hand or a bit of music, without noticing that there’s no one beside me.
We know that travel isn’t about us
Travelling, for introverts like me, is part of a bigger picture. The essence of travelling is not about the person, but the characters, experiences and settings as a whole. We feel safer and happier, knowing that we’re not in the lead role, while travelling, and are simply contented to play the extra’s role.
We immerse ourselves in every place we visit
We see dozens of tourists, nowadays, blitzing from one attraction to another, ticking off landmarks and places on their list of things to do. On the bright side, travelling like the scarlet speedster – The Flash – means you will have a myriad of giggles and fun experiences. But, on the flip side, it means that you are most likely going to miss out on the simpler and quieter pleasures of your trip.
We never like to rush things on the road. Plus, we don’t give a damn about lists, and we, in general, try to stay away from the touristy places. If we like a place so much, we stay there for a while, until we are one with it.
As you can see, there are some perks of being a wallflower. With that said, I’m urging my fellow introverts, to step outside your comfort zone, and be a great traveller that you’re meant to be!