The terms introvert and extrovert have been coming up in conversation here and there recently and it has had me thinking... I am an introvert but I love exploring new places. For a while it didn't make sense to me that the only two things I want to be doing at any moment are in complete contrast to each other: being at home and being in a new and foreign place.
As a typical introvert, I have no problem socializing with people but I enjoy smaller groups far more than large ones and prefer one-on-one interaction even more. I generally have 1-2 outside the routine social interactions a week because when I have more I am left feeling pretty drained and off balance. On top of being an introvert I am a homebody, two characteristics that are often mistaken as being mutually exclusive. I love being home and if I can invite people over instead of being in a loud bar the invitation is already in the (e)mail! All that said I still love to travel (hence the blog devoted to it!).
After a little thought I see there are a few reasons introverts are actually the best travelers. Introverted people are often in their own head a lot. When traveling we naturally take time to absorb and reflect on our surroundings and experiences. I am a firm believer that travel is enhanced when you take time between the exploration and adventure to relax and take time with yourself to acknowledge what you have learned. I also think this allows me to appreciate the experience all the more.
On the flip side, traveling is a great way to get an introvert out of their out of their head and their shell. I find myself living more in the moment when I am in a new place. While at home I am a creature of routine, abroad I am forced to be spontaneous and flexible, adventurous and risky. I will adapt my plans on the fly and find ways to communicate in unfamiliar languages to total strangers. I try new foods and new things. And I ask myself "will I regret not doing this" when face with a new challenge.
I suppose travel and exploration is joyful for me (and other like-minded introverts) because of the balance it brings. The challenges and reflective periods both serve as opportunities for growth and reflection. And after all, if nothing else introverts are explorers of the self.