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Sanity for a travelling introvert

I’m an introvert. People drain me. I read people like I read text. I can’t help myself. It’s a constant chatter of appraisals, questions, judgements, admiration, repulsion — all going off in my head. Crowds, bodies strung across spaces, people’s faces and clothes, the way they walk, they way they move, react and talk  leaves me anxious and wired.

Running the Thelma + Louise Half Marathon in Moab, Utah - An introvert’s travel plan for sanity by Ruth McAllister Kemp
Running the Thelma + Louise Half Marathon in Moab, Utah.

Worst places for people drain are:

Airports / Buses / Trains / Planes / Shopping malls / Bars / Concerts / Anywhere that people wait / Anywhere that people gather

It’s not just unknown people that drain me. Sometimes I have to escape my family and friends too. Being with other people is tiring. I can’t keep up. I don’t have the chat skills. I’m not witty. I don’t make people laugh. I don’t give advice. I don’t tell stories. I’m not informative.

I’m an introvert. I find energy by being alone. How will I cope during the year I’m traveling the world with my husband and two sons? We’ll be in each other’s pockets for sure, doing lots of exploring together and inevitably spending time in people-drain places as we travel.

How will I find my recharge space? How will I find my distance?

Running is a good solution. Checking out a new place for decent run routes is fun … might take a few days to get to know somewhere well enough to head on out, but I’ll do it. I’ll check local info for run events, parkruns and maybe even join some running groups when I can.

View over Salt Lake City - An introvert’s travel plan for sanity by Ruth McAllister Kemp
Utah. View over Salt Lake City on an early morning run.
Trail at Bryce Canyon - An introvert’s travel plan for sanity by Ruth McAllister Kemp
Utah. Bryce Canyon run just after sunrise.

Walking is another great way to recharge. Escaping the rental to have a quick explore whilst the kids lounge about and the husband plays his music is very rewarding, especially when you dedicate the walk to finding the perfect ‘gun’ stick for the 8 year old whilst taking photos of anything that takes your fancy as you go.

Pink house in the Marmalade District of Salt Lake City - An introvert’s travel plan for sanity by Ruth McAllister Kemp
A quick walk to find distance in Salt Lake City rewards me with colour and joy.

Blue house in the Marmalade District of Salt Lake City - An introvert’s travel plan for sanity by Ruth McAllister Kemp

Funnily enough, it’s during the times when I am most alone that I strike up conversations with strangers. Quiet, space, nature, movement, ambient sound, independence and accomplishment recharge me enough to want to reach out to others because I feel at my best.

I’m bad at not always getting out when I can. Anxiety builds and just getting out of the house can be fraught with infinitesimal barriers. Reminding myself of how much better I feel when I’ve conquered my brain-monkeys is the key. So I promise to find my distance whenever and wherever I can in the world. Cross my heart and squash a fly. I’ll find my first distance by running in Park Skowroni, Poland, and my second will be parkrunning in Kraków. Hold me to it.

Cooks Wood, just outside Bristol, UK - An introvert’s travel plan for sanity by Ruth McAllister Kemp
My go-to place at home in North Somerset, UK … the woods, the sky, the hill, the wind all help me to recharge.
June 23, 2016
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3 comments

Best wishes for you family adventure.

Hi Ruth,
I just wanted to say that I’ve been reading through all of your blog posts.
Not only have I been laughing out loud (I love the angle you choose when writing a post), but you’re also a great story teller. Maybe you don’t feel that these traits come out when conversing with others in person, but they certainly come out in your writing.

Thank you Susannah! You must have read and written many travel blogs in your time, so this feedback is much appreciated encouragement.

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