Are you dreading your next group trip? In this post and video, you’ll find four tips on how to survive family vacations when you’re an introvert.
When we think “vacation,” we think fun, relaxing, recharging. But for an introvert, some trips can feel more stressful than staying at home. Especially when you’re traveling with family or a large group of people. An easy way to know if you are one of these individuals is to think back to childhood vacations. Some of my favorite moments from summer trips to the beach, were when my parents let me go back to the house so that I could read or watch tv. Away from the sun, the heat, the crowds, and the chatter.
How I survive family vacations as an introvert
Not much has changed for me as an adult. I still value quiet time, spent alone. However, now, I have an understanding of just how important that time is. It means the difference between an enjoyable vacation and a stressful one.
I just returned from a trip to Cape Cod, where I jotted down some notes that I wish I had on some of my previous trips. Have you ever wondered how to survive family vacations when you’re an introvert? Here are my four tips to help you make your next trip a relaxing one:
Tip 1: Choose the right activities
Most of the time, we introverts don’t mind being in the same room with other people, as long as we don’t have to be engaged in too much conversation. Reading or watching a movie are two easy options. If you have a lot of talkers in your group, going to see a movie in a theater might be a better alternative. Also consider some physical activities, like going for a run, where you can put in headphones. Or going boating, where you can call the one-person kayak.
My new favorite family vacation activity
Last week, in Cape Cod, my mom and I took a yoga class together, and it was wonderful. Even though we were in a space with other people, it was very much a personal activity. I walked out feeling recharged and mom and I were able to chat about our shared experience. And to make jokes about some of the yoga chants that our instructor randomly shouted out and how I almost got kicked in the head by the guy sitting next to me.
Tip 2: Break the family into groups
You don’t need to be an introvert to know that trying to get the entire group to agree on one activity is a recipe for disaster. Someone is always going to be unhappy. Instead, take that pressure off, and plan to split up. The more people you are with on your trip, the easier this is, because you are bound to be with varied personality types and individual interests.
Planning for the next family vacation
In a few weeks, I’m traveling to London with my husband’s family and there will be seven of us in total. We’ve had very open communication about the activities that are important to each of us as individuals, and have removed the pressure that everyone needs to take part in everything.
For example, there’s a day where the four of us Harry Potter fans are going to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. My in-laws and sister-in-law really have no interest exploring the Diagon Alley set or poking around Professor Umbridge’s office, so they’ll use that time to explore, or just relax. Later in the trip, the family is taking a day trip to Paris. Since my husband and I were just there last September, we opted out of that one, and we’ll likely spend that time split between the pub and a tea room. All about that compromise.
Tip 3: Don’t fill up your vacation schedule
This is counterintuitive to trip planning but is probably the most important action you can take to keep your introverted sanity. When you are visiting someplace like a new city, or Disney World, or even a place that you travel to often, there is so much pressure to maximize your stay. We feel this need to make it worth our time and money which leads to filling every moment with activity.
This is an exhausting way to vacation, and will ultimately leave you feeling like you need another one when you get home. To enjoy more moments, and to truly maximize your experience, plan for breaks. Unapologetically take naps, go for a long walk or drive, or even offer to run an errand so you can get some quiet time.
Your vacation, in your introverted way
There is no shame in hanging out in your room. In my last post, I shared how I really enjoy staying in nice hotels. It’s partially because I plan to spend more time there than the average person. I don’t see it as “just a place to sleep” as many do when traveling, but another part of the trip to enjoy. There have been many occasions where my husband have been on vacation and have ditched our plans for dining out so that we could order room service and watch tv.
Being out of your normal routine, and in a new place can be a big drain on your energy. Honor how you’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to change course and cancel plans if you’ve overextended yourself.
Tip 4: Communicate with your family members
You may have taken trips before and felt like there was something wrong with you. Or you may have felt guilty about not having as good of a time as everyone else. Introverts love vacations too, but we just need to do them in different ways. It wasn’t until the last few years that I even understood this about myself. But once I did, I had a really good explanation for being so exhausted. And I was able to do something about it.
I’ve found it to be helpful to openly communicate with my family about introversion. To explain how taking little breaks allow me to be more present when we are together. And that reading in my room for an hour doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. In getting more educated, I’ve uncovered that there are several other introverted members in my family. Since we make up about 25-40% of the world’s population, you likely have them in yours as well.
Explain what it’s like to be an introvert on a family vacation
If you don’t feel like you could adequately explain introversion to your loved ones, I highly recommend sharing Susan Cain’s TED Talk, The Power of Introverts. The topic of personality types might be a fun way for your family or vacation crew to bond. If you haven’t already, you can take a free personality assessment on 16personalities.com. After you’ve taken it, leave me a comment below to share your type. I’ll leave mine there as well.
In taking the assessment you’re likely to uncover that it’s not only introverted types who have specific travel preferences. Just as you want to be heard, and understood, part of communication involves giving the extroverts a voice too. With acceptance and respect, harmonious vacations await.
Now I want to hear from you! Do you have any tips on how to survive family vacations when you’re an introvert? Share your best ideas and stories in the comments below.