Photo: Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock

10 Travel Situations That Are Hard for Extroverts

by Katka Lapelosová Jan 1, 2015
1. Riding public transportation

One day riding the tram, I complimented a Czech woman on her scarf. She responded with a repulsed expression, and other times when I’d see her at the station, she’d always duck away. We extroverts receive sharp glares from other passengers whenever we do something totally normal to us — such as telling a story (albeit at a decibel slightly louder than a whisper or more), sitting next to a stranger when there are lots of open seats, or even just smiling in general. To us, transportation is more than just a means of getting to-and-from — it’s part of the experience. But we are the worst nightmare of everyday commuters in the city we’re visiting. We throw off their game. We make them feel uncomfortable.

2. Visiting “quiet” places

This usually includes churches, libraries, museums, theaters, and other places where conversation is supposed to be kept at a minimum. It’s not that we’re bored — we’re filled with so much emotion, we have to express it in a verbal way. We’ll read labels out loud, we’ll chat incessantly with docents, and we’re usually one of the jackasses screaming, “GUYS! GUYS COME LOOK AT THIS! I CAN SEE THIS STATUE’S WEINER!” from across the Met’s Grecian sculpture room. We’re pretty apologetic when someone asks us to be quiet, but we won’t always notice how loud we actually are in the process.

3. Respecting long bouts of silence

Extroverts are not okay with dead air. We get super uncomfortable when a conversation drops at a hookah bar in Turkey, and will nervously tell jokes when we’re really supposed to be paying attention to our Peruvian mountain guide while trekking up to Machu Picchu. It feels weird if we can’t contribute to a discussion, and sometimes a desperate need to say something causes us to talk complete bullshit. Road trips are a nightmare for me personally, especially if I’m only traveling with one other person, and that person just wants to chill out and drive. They might be able to take in the Rocky Mountain skyline without making a peep, but I’ve got to describe its majesty and glory like I’m doing voiceover for a PBS documentary.

4. Coming off as bossy and a know-it-all

We naturally take charge of situations — we’re the ones with the map, or the ones yelling, “Fuck the map! Let’s go here…” People either trust us too much because we’re so confident, or they distrust us because we come off as being reckless. Since we need to know everything that is happening, we memorize and spit out random facts along the way. Little tidbits, like “Did you know that the Great Wall of China was built over a 200-year period, during the Ming dynasty? But that’s not even the original one, the original wall only took 20 years,” get blurted out to a crowd of people who neither solicited, nor care to know, this Wikipedia’d knowledge.

5. Scaring off potential friends and/or romantic partners

Our energy can be very overwhelming, especially when we’re excited. This can sometimes put off shyer people, or those who don’t want to be associated with such a rambunctious person. I get along great with Mexicans, Colombians, Italians, West Africans, and other cultures known for their colorful, expressive selves, but Finns, Brits, Japanese, Chinese, and people known for being more “reserved” take some time to warm up to me. It can be hard for extroverts to reign in our thoughts and emotions when meeting our Indian partner’s parents for the first time, but once they get to know us, their excitable nature is often revealed and embraced.

6. Getting into heated cross-cultural debates

Extroverts will often speak their mind, not because we want to purposely piss someone off, but just because we want to express ourselves. A lot of times it’s also because we have no filter. This can get us into trouble abroad sometimes, like when we bring up Communist history to Bulgarians, or talk about gay marriage with people in Uganda. We forget that sometimes we just need to shut up and respect the values and mores of cultures other than our own. Unless specifically asked, I try and stay away from conversations involving politics and religion, but it’s not always easy for me to stay cool when I’m riled up.

7. Annoying people who just want to chill

“So what brings you to Charleston? Where did you go to high school? What size shoe are you? These peanuts are awesome, what’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?” We want to know everything about the people we come into contact with, and we’ll bombard strangers with small talk to the point where they’ve run out of responses for us. We can’t seem to take a hint when we’re sitting next to someone in a waiting room, or at a bar, and they keep looking out the window, or are deep inside a book they are reading — instead of paying attention to us. I usually end up looking like a crazy person talking to myself while queued up at a British supermarket.

8. Feeling ostracized by other trip mates

In middle school, my group of friends did everything they could to avoid this one girl named Arianna, because she was just “not cool” at the moment. It was because Arianna wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, was loud in public, and was overly confident. This sort of situation happens when you’re an extrovert traveler too, especially when it comes to cross-cultural interaction. Some travelers are shy about trying new things, or talking to total strangers, and don’t want to be associated with you if something embarrassing happens. While we always mean well, our energy can be exhausting for some to deal with, to the point where no one wants to include us in their day’s plans, and we end up walking around Buenos Aires by ourselves. Luckily, our independent spirit allows us to overcome any feelings of being left out, but it’s not always easy for us to know when we’re not wanted.

9. Being the last one “up”

We’re never the first ones to retire. We are pushed by FOMO, or the desire to remain awake and alert so as not to miss out on opportunities that might occur while we sleep. Only when everyone else in the group has decided to go shut their eyes, can we feel comfortable resting ourselves. But if there is even just one other person who feels up for one last drink, a final smoke break outside of our hostel, a moonlit walk along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river, etc., we’ll be there too. I welcome jet lag because it gives me an excuse to stay awake, but I also end up by myself watching reality TV shows until 3am, because no one else shares my same level of stamina.

10. Feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted

I won’t always admit it, but expelling so much energy via conversation, physical activity, and mental stimulation can leave me seriously drained at the end of the day. Extroverts usually react to this fatigue in one of two ways: sleeping like we’re dead, especially if it’s 2pm and we’re somewhere like a park bench, pool table, or while sitting on the toilet at the Tate Modern. Or, we’ll fight the exhaustion through copious amounts of coffee, uppers, and psyching ourselves into “staying awake to watch the epic sunrise over Angkor Wat.” It’s completely self-damaging, but we hide it pretty well.

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