I would bet that every introvert has dreamt about taking a solo trip before. Once you decide to take the plunge and go on a solo vacation, however, where do you go? The ideal places for an introvert to travel alone would meet the following criteria:
- Have relatively low crime rates, so as to be safe for the solo traveler.
- Not be too crowded or congested with other tourists that it defeats the idea of travelling solo in the first place.
- Not be so remote as to make a solo traveler feel completely cut off from humanity (unless that’s what he or she wants) or be potentially dangerous should our intrepid introvert become ill or injured.
Now that we have a basic idea of what the introverted traveler should be looking for, let’s look at a few places, abroad and in the U.S., that match these criteria while being quite different from each other in other regards.
Denmark – Hygge is a Danish word with no direct English translation, although the closest meaning is something along the lines of “coziness.” Due to Denmark’s northern latitude, it gets dark early in the fall and winter, which leaves plenty of time for Danes to have long hyggeligt evenings with lots of candles, warm food and drinks, and a couple of close friends or a good book for company. Sounds like an introvert’s heaven, right?
Even if you visit Copenhagen, the country’s capital and largest city, you’ll be quite comfortable as an Introvert there. Danes rarely talk to strangers in public (and never on public transportation), so if you are approached, it’ll likely be by a fellow American or a visitor from another country in Europe. Copenhagen is very flat and walkable, but it is probably best seen by bike, if you want to feel like a true Dane. You can rent a bike and ride it by the canal at Nyhavn, and from there it’s a quick ride to the Royal Library, which is worth a visit for both its contents and architecture.
If you want to travel slightly off the beaten path, the Danish countryside has plenty of castles for you to explore, including Kronborg—a.k.a Hamlet’s Castle! The city of Aarhus should be on your itinerary for the ARoS art museum alone, and the city of Odense, perhaps because it’s the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, feels like a portal into the nineteenth century. But no matter what city or town you’re in, most cafes in Denmark try to cultivate an atmosphere of hygge for their customers, and I’d recommend spending an afternoon at one with a cup of coffee, a pastry, and some people-watching. Chances are no random strangers will try to start up a conversation with you, so you can relax.
Scotland – Visiting the Scottish Highlands is like stepping into a cozy mystery novel. It’s just like you’d imagine it – the accents, the stone cottages, the rugged mountains, and the misty mornings. You can traipse along the shore of a loch under the gray sky and imagine yourself as a romantic hero from days gone by. And speaking of lochs, would you really be in Scotland if you didn’t go to Loch Ness?
Should you decide that you’d like to encounter a few more people than you will in the Highlands, you can head south to the town of St. Andrews and play one of the courses at the birthplace of golf. If you follow the coastline south, you’ll make it to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, where the imposing Edinburgh Castle watches over the city. Make sure you grab a fresh baked scone before you begin your tour of the castle; it’s a steep climb to the top, and you’ll need the fuel. After visiting the castle, it would probably be best if you relaxed in a pub for a bit. Be warned though that the Scots are much more outgoing than the Danes, so don’t be surprised if anyone talks you. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll be too enchanted by their accents and genuine friendliness to care too much.
Tybee Island, Georgia – Going to the beach is probably my favorite form of vacation. Unfortunately, places like Myrtle and Virginia Beach, with their big crowds and high-rise hotels all along the shore, don’t work well for my introversion. Tybee Island, a short drive from Savannah, Georgia, offers the kind of Atlantic Coast beach that I prefer, while allowing me to share that beach with fewer people. There are some hotels at Tybee, but it’s easy to find a beach there with nothing but dunes and a few weathered beach houses—some of which you can rent for the week!
On any evening, you can drive into Savannah and walk along the Savannah River, stopping wherever you want to shop, eat, drink, or listen to live music. Alternatively, if you want to get even further away from civilization than Tybee allows, you can book a spot on a charter boat and go deep-sea fishing. Or, if you’re like me, you can choose to spend your entire vacation on the beach, taking breaks from reading to dive into the refreshingly cool surf.
Boulder, Colorado – Boulder, as a much smaller city than neighboring Denver, is ideal for the more outdoorsy introvert. It’s known for being a laid-back town, as well as being picturesquely placed in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Pretty much a hipster haven. If you’re the adventurous type, you can try rock-climbing at Eldorado Springs, Boulder Canyon, or the Flatirons. Or if you like the outdoors but also have a strong sense of self-preservation, like me, you can settle for hiking at any of those same locations. There’s South Boulder Creek for fishing and practically infinite places for a picnic. Boulder’s arts scene is nothing to laugh at either, so if museum and gallery-hopping is more your thing, you will not be disappointed.
After your long day of hiking and exploring, you can return to the city for dinner at one of the many foodie-approved restaurants or a drink at one of the city’s twenty-some breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Boulder has a pretty vibrant nightlife for a small city, thanks in part to the presence of the University of Colorado Boulder. So if a day-long solo hike has your social batteries charged, you might want to go to Pearl Street for a hip cocktail or the Hill for a more, shall we say, collegiate bar scene.
Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts – These two towns border each other, and both are close enough to Boston that you can easily head into the city if you’d like, but they’ll allow you to avoid the bigger crowds if you choose to. If you’re a history buff, then you’ll certainly want to visit the sites important to the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battle of the Revolutionary War. And in case it’s been more than a few years since your last U.S. history class, you can visit the Minute Man National Historical Park for a refresher on the important details. You shouldn’t have trouble finding a historical place to sleep either, as the area is peppered with historic inns.
Leaving the hustle and bustle of civilization behind to go live in a cabin in the woods and contemplate life is a dream most introverts—and maybe just most humans—have had at some point. In Concord, you can visit the spot where one man, Henry David Thoreau, actually did that. Whether you loved or hated reading Walden in high school, the real-life Walden Pond is worth a visit, especially in the fall when the bright foliage is reflected back in its tranquil waters. You can also see the house that Thoreau’s friend and fellow Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, lived in and later rented to Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter. Indeed, Massachusetts has possibly the largest concentration of famous writers’ homes and final resting places in America, and you can also visit the house where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set Little Women.
If you need more fresh air after visiting these admittedly stuffy old houses, I suggest a walk through some of Lexington and Concord’s fantastic cemeteries. Cemeteries are great places to connect with the past, get inspiration for your next story, or just indulge some of your morbid curiosity. Plus they’re usually pretty introvert friendly, on account of most of the occupants being six feet under.
Do you have other ideas for introvert-friendly vacation spots that meet my criteria?