Introvert tools
June 20, 2017 5:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Italy soon, and will be traveling on a small but organized tour through the mountains. I'm relatively introverted. What are some things I can say to the organizer, other tour members, the (small) hotel operator/staff, or even strangers... when I'm feeling the need to recharge alone, but do not want to come across as rude?

I'm going to a non-touristy part of Italy where I my mom was from. I've never felt very Italian-ish nor did I grow up with that side of the family, so while I'm super excited to go - I'm also nervous about the highly social and involved cultural differences (my other half is South Asian, so I grew up being more reserved).

The tour is a week long, with planned trips during the days, and group breakfasts and dinners at night. The hotel is in a beautiful, but relatively isolated setting - but I will have my own room. I am not an extreme introvert - I genuinely like people and listening to others, but I also definitely need to recharge by myself.

What are some things I can say to keep in my back pocket, when I might need to recharge alone? Without being rude? That are culturally sensitive?
posted by raztaj to Human Relations (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
"I am going off on my own today. When can we meet up later?"
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 5:30 AM on June 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

"I need some down time!" pretty much anything like this, said with a smile and confidence, will be easily accepted.
posted by raisingsand at 5:39 AM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Preface with "I'm looking forward to [next thing you'll do together, or experience they will understand" -- this way you're not just rejecting their company. Your actions are about being better for things they will understand.
posted by amtho at 5:49 AM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

"I need some time alone to recharge my batteries. I'll see you later!" I think most people understand if you just let them know what's going on.
posted by xingcat at 5:54 AM on June 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've been on a week long hiking tour in the Dolomites that sounds similar. I found that most people naturally went off on their own after spending a whole day together. They would go for a swim, or a sauna, a beer or just to their rooms. I didn't feel that an excuse was necessary--you would just see people again in the morning.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:11 AM on June 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

I've been on a bunch of small group trips. And yes, people do chat and you find your subset of people you walk with, sit with, talk to, more often than with everybody else. They are the ones you may stay in touch with after tour is over. But I've never been on a tour with adults* where it was not acceptable (and even expected) that people who enjoy solitude or are under the weather or whatever would excuse themselves from 'the official activity' of the day. Normally, the tour guide will make sure (discreetly) that you're not in need of medical attention, may point out alternative activities you can do alone and then leave you to it. Don't expect them to entertain you if they are not accompanying the rest of the group, they will have other things to do in that time. Then you find somewhere to read your book, go for a walk, have a coffee and just chill. Nobody cares. Just be sure to ask about 'activity' the next time you meet the group and hear all about their adventures.

If you really are faced with somebody who just doesn't 'get it' just explain you've really been looking forward to spend a bit of your vacation doing X and that you will go and do that now and wish them a good day. The socially clueless do deserve consideration but it's your vacation. They can tag along with the main group.

In my experience, the only thing that upsets people is if you don't communicate you're doing your own thing and just wander off. Because people will wait for you, will start to search for you etc, i.e. their enjoyment of their tour is adversely affected by these things. But nobody is going to bat an eyelid if you say - I'll sit by the pool and read my book or whatever you want to do. You can even pick this up with your tour guide on day one - just explain the program seems quite full, you'd like some time to yourself to do x, what days would he recommend you plan to do skip some of the activity to that.

*if your travel companions are very young adults they may still be attached to the idea that everybody has to join in everything but why would you care. Just do your own thing.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:16 AM on June 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

"I need some time alone to recharge my batteries. I'll see you later!" I think most people understand if you just let them know what's going on.

Indeed. A lot of people will be happy that someone said it out loud.
posted by tillermo at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think it depends if most of your tour-mates are European or from the US. If they are European, I'd expect people to just do their thing, split off as they want, not feel compelled to explain their movements, or expect others to. If most of them are from the US, I'd offer explanations like others are suggesting. But in most countries I've been to outside the US, people just non-neurotically do what they need to do without feeling the need to report their moves and thought-processes, and explaining them reads as kind of odd and childish, IME.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wave a book or a writing journal: "I'm just going off to work on this for a bit!"
posted by TwoStride at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

As others have said, the truth will be fine, understandable, and perfectly polite. If you want an excuse, though, "I've got to get the photos off my phone/camera I'm almost out of memory" works well.
posted by aimedwander at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2017

I think it depends if most of your tour-mates are European or from the US.

Speaking as someone from the US, I think that you'd be fine not offering an explanation to US folks as well. Completely agree with koahiatamadl that you should say something so the rest of the group isn't waiting for you needlessly, but if I were a fellow tour-member I really wouldn't care what you were doing and wouldn't feel like you owed me an explanation. Any of the flavors of "I'm going to sit this out - see you later!" suggestions mentioned above would be perfectly fine, IMO.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:29 AM on June 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

First and foremost, remember that you are an adult who is paying for this trip and it should be pleasurable for you. I haven't done very many multi-day organised tours but when I have, I've always ditched the other people.

I kind of think that introversion is one of those things (like not drinking booze) that ill-mannered people tend to kick back against: "oh just ONE drink!" or "oh but you HAVE TO see the Prado!"

You do not fucking have to see the Prado.

Anyway, I would let drop at the beginning that this is a working vacation for you. "Oh, sorry, I need to make a deadline this morning/prep for a call this afternoon; I hope you guys have a great time!" People tend not to argue with that so much.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:55 AM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

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