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A Quieter Take on Travel: Introvert Reimagines Group Tours
Does walking onto a packed tour bus send your pulse racing? Do you love nothing more than quiet time at the destinations you visit? Do you hate small talk with your fellow air travelers? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be an introvert — and you'd be in the company of one-third to one-half of Americans, according to author Susan Cain.
In Cain's book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," she lauds the benefits of introversion, defining the trait as not necessarily shy, but as gaining energy from solitude rather than stimulation. From how you work to the hobbies you choose to the way you prefer to travel, identifying as an introvert or an extrovert greatly affects how you see and experience the world.
It was Cain's book that inspired Lisa Avebury, a self-described strong introvert, to develop a style of travel tailored to those with personalities similar to hers. An avid traveler since the age of 21, Avebury has participated in group tours with guides who talked incessantly, been on crowded tour buses and explored the extroverted side of travel. Such experiences sent her introverted side spinning.
"Most travel tour excursions highlight many implied social gatherings or shuttle you from place to place with a guide talking over every thought you have. That's not something introverts would be drawn to," she said. "Introverts most often prefer listening to their own thoughts and taking things in instead of hearing someone list facts."
Over time, Avebury discovered she enjoyed traveling alone. "I wondered why that was," she said. "Why was I so enriched by travel by myself?" After understanding — and fully embracing — her own introversion, she realized that she simply needed time to recharge and preferred less stimulation with plenty of time to journal and meditate in the destinations she visited.
Thus, emerged the idea for Sacred Introvert, a company providing tours specifically designed for introverts.
When Avebury put together her first tour, which will depart May 1 to Glastonbury, England, she designed it from start to finish to appeal to introverts like Brenda Knowles, 44, of Minneapolis.
"I have been on several all-inclusive vacations at popular resorts," said Knowles, who has signed up for the inaugural tour and runs space2live.net, a relationship site for introverts. "They can be amazing, but they can also be a week of techno music blasted non-stop near your room, getting up at the crack of dawn to reserve a chair by the pool, and being surrounded by others who are there primarily to party and drink as much as possible. All of that turns me off."
It's safe to say there will be no techno music on Sacred Introvert retreats. Instead, Avebury chose a quiet former 7th century abbey as a home base for the trip. Excursions are offered on alternating days, providing time in between to recharge and relax with optional activities like yoga, meditation, talks and walks. Each guest will have their own room to which they can retreat as needed, and there will be plenty of time to spend at each destination.
Avebury chose Glastonbury because it's a place she knows well and feels especially connected to. "I just love England and I think it's kind of an introverted country, especially when you get outside of London," she said. Glastonbury also offers plenty to do close by with the small town just a short walk from the abbey. "The area around Glastonbury is also full of castles, ruins, ancient sites and natural wonders — all the kind of things that fire an introvert's imagination," Avebury said.
While group travel might not seem like an experience that would appeal to introverts, Avebury asserts that introversion does not necessarily equate to shyness. "Introverts can be very outgoing and engaging when they're passionate about something, but in their down time, are often misunderstood in this overly-extroverted, highly-stimulated, sense-driven world," said Avebury. "We are 'selectively social,' and if we connect with other like-minded individuals, we often have a lot to share."
The trip will offer plenty of opportunities for participants to socialize, including during a trip to the local pub, a historic stop where Henry VIII watched the abbey burn. But there are no "forced" group interactions: travelers are free to participate in as many as activities as they wish.
"You are being surrounded by like-minded people who understand what your needs are and who get you," said Avebury. "I feel people are really hungry to connect. I hope they will make a friend or two. Travel itself lasts a lifetime but if you happen to be blessed and make a friend along the way, that's even more amazing."
To join the inaugural tour, which costs $3,795 per person (not including airfare or ground transportation), register by March 16 by visiting the Sacred Introvert website.
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