When introverts want to get away, they want to really get away. You’re unlikely to find them crammed on a bus with other tourists or playing drinking games by a cruise-ship pool. Good-time travel for introverts allows time and space for quiet contemplation of the world’s many wonders.
With that in mind, we present to you a range of ideas for introvert-friendly vacations. And remember that when cost is a consideration, timing is everything: off-season travel is less expensive. And, by the way, less crowded. Which is fine with us.
The definition of the word flâneur has evolved over time from male dandies who strolled the streets to people who enjoy being quiet spectators of life swirling around them. To be a flâneur is to enjoy the great theater of the street. Historian Anaïs Bazin once wrote that “the only, the true sovereign of Paris is the flâneur.” In other words, in Paris, flâneurs rule! So settle into a sidewalk café—perhaps Café de Deux Moulins in Montmartre, made famous in the movie Amelie—and let the world go on around you. For more information, check out the Paris tourist bureau.
If your image of a cruise is a frenzy of fun and too much food, you’re not entirely wrong. But that’s only one kind of cruise. A transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 is something else entirely. There are few places that are as no place as halfway between the continents in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Look around—books lie open but forgotten in laps; conversations have trailed off; people sit gazing at the great nothing surrounding the ship—lulled, hypnotized, and silenced by the ocean and the empty horizon. Bliss.
The Oregon coast is not the seashore of umbrella drinks and limbo contests. It’s got a pensive vibe, with waves dramatically crashing on the rocks, sandy beaches that invite long thoughtful walks, and dense rich forests that march right up to the ocean. In high season, it’s popular with families, and Cannon Beach hosts a large and famous annual sandcastle competition. In the off-season, the coast is quieter, except when storms blow in from the Pacific—a natural spectacle all the more delightful when you’re cozied up in a room with a view.
With access to three of Switzerland’s most famous ski resorts, the town of Pontresina—nestled in a valley in the Bernina Range, one of the Alps’ ranges—is skiers’ paradise. But as the snow gives way to green and wildflowers (except on the most towering peaks), the skiers give way to hikers—and Pontresina is no less inviting. Take a cable car or mountain railway up the mountain to lunch al fresco with magnificent views, then hike back down on impeccably groomed trails through pine-scented forests. With more than 350 miles of trails, you’re unlikely to encounter crowds, but you will find benches with long valley views perfect for rest and reflection.
The US Virgin Islands are among the Caribbean’s most visited; some days, St. Thomas is like a mall on Black Friday. But on the British Virgin Islands, a particular favorite of yachters, you won’t have to fight for a space on tranquil beaches. Skip the bustling capital of Tortola, and opt instead to hobnob with yachters. Ensconce yourself in a luxurious villa or resort on Virgin Gorda. Enjoy the casual barefoot beachfront life at tiny Jost Van Dyke—a three-by-four mile island with fewer than 300 inhabitants and a cluster of smaller islands off its east end—when you want to get away from your getaway. Or pack a snorkel or dive gear to meet the sea creatures who make their home in Horseshoe Reef, surrounding the island of Anegada.
If you can stand a little are we there yet?, take the kids to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, and show them unspoiled nature. Far more remote and less populous than the canyon’s South Rim (no tour buses!), the North Rim has only one lodge. It’s open May through October, so you’ll need to book a year in advance. (The rim may be visited after October, but services are limited. Once snow starts falling, the roads are closed.) Or reserve a campsite, and sleep amidst the Ponderosa pines. Along with soaking in views of astonishing scale, you can explore the woods (look for black-and-white Kaibab squirrels, unique to the area). Mule trips and free ranger programs are available.
Only small cruise ships ply the Galapagos Islands, and tour groups are limited to 20 people at a time, so the only crowds you’ll encounter here will be blue-footed boobies, cormorants, iguanas, seals, and the finches that inspired Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The fearlessness of these protected creatures, which have never been hunted, adds to the sensation of entering a land untouched by time. These volcanic islands are stark and scrubby but dense with biology, geology, and history. Tourism is threatening this sensitive ecosystem, so do visit, but do the world a favor, and choose a ship that has earned Smart Voyager certification.
If you’ve never driven across the United States, then you don’t really know how big it is. Go it alone, or grab a not-too-chatty friend and hit the highways. A road-trip playlist is fun, but silence can be soothing. Open the window, and let your brain air out. And be sure to stop often to visit roadside attractions, to see the major sites (Grand Canyon—required viewing), or just to get out of the car and smell the soft moist south, the hot spicy tang of the desert, and the bracing piney air of the mountains. Flying is travel, but a road trip is a journey.
Base yourself amidst a historic collection of Tudor half-timbered homes in the pretty market town of Ludlow, England, which dates to 1086, when the Normans constructed its imposing castle as part of a line of defenses against the Welsh. From there, put on sturdy shoes to walk the green and rolling countryside of Shropshire. Rural and sparsely populated, Shropshire has 3,500 miles of right-of-way (walking access on private property), where you might encounter more sheep than people. Walk from village to village to the castle ruins over craggy rocks and across rolling pastureland.