An introvert’s approach to travel

 an introvert

A lot of people think they know me but don’t really know me at all.

People think that because I’m Trinidadian that I must be an extrovert. Firstly, they assume I’m loud.

Not loud or even Loud.

L O U D.

Bubbling with scandalous kya kya kya laughter.

Secondly, they think I must be easy-going, like a coconut tree on a breezy beach.

Thirdly, they think I must be a big time limer (party animal) because Trinidad and Tobago is the home of Kya-nee-val (Carnival, to the more refined folks out there) and that I’m comfortable with friends, acquaintances, and strangers wining on meh bumsee (gyrating on my butt) in public.

Sorry folks, I am none of the above.

I’m one of a rare breed: the introverted Trini who grew up in an extroverted Trini culture. I hate sweaty crowds so you’ll never find me in a fete or chipping dong de road on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Even though I may seem talkative at a party, the day after, all I really want to do is go to the most deserted beach possible with my husband. No cooldown lime at Maracas Beach for me, thank you very much.

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a pretty well-known personality test, I’m an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). INTJs are bookworms by nature. They think strategically and move through life as though they’re playing chess. Sore points: they don’t like small talk and hate the spotlight. Also, they can also come across as insensitive because they don’t allow their feelings to sway how they relate to people.

If you read a lot of travel blogs, there is a prevailing paradigm that travelers have to be super-extroverted and open to anything in order to maximize the travel experience. Travel bloggers, Two Drifters, have challenged this notion and applied MBTI to travelers. They write (tongue in cheek) about sixteen travel personality types.  That’s right: sixteen. And guess what? Not every traveler’s an extrovert.

Under their system, I  could be classified as an INTJ traveler. Here’s what Two Drifters have to say about the INTJ traveler:

The INTJ loves to create ideas and possibilities and then capitalize them. Not content with daydreaming, INTJs know how to turn their goals into reality, and they proceed with ambition and strategy. The INTJ is highly intelligent and insightful. This type works hard to understand everything they encounter, with keen observation and an interest in understanding inner workings and patterns. The INTJ travel personality is likely to be found exploring foreign cultures with depth and passion, moving past “touristy” distractions and seeking authentic immersion.

Spot on.

As an INTJ traveler, I like to quietly observe a place and its people. To do this takes time. I have had my most rewarding travel experiences when I have spent a long time in a country. Long enough to immerse myself and peer under the glittery, touristy surface.

As a student in London, nothing made me happier than walking along the Thames or exploring the city’s dusty churches and cobbled alleys. I would spend hours on my feet, sometimes missing meals because I loved to explore the city alone. I saw a side of London few tourists ever see: a money-grubbing city, a city swollen with cultural diversity, a historical city sometimes struggling to stay relevant in the 21st century.

Introverted travelers also tend to see a country from a different perspective. Unlike many other millenial travelers, my Instagram feed shows what the place actually looks like. You will never find a picture of me in a bikini on a boat over crystal-clear water looking dreamily in the distance while clutching my partner’s hands.

I like to travel (or specifically, live in a foreign place for an extended period of time) because it challenges my natural INTJ qualities. It forces me to stretch beyond my comfort zone. For example, when I’m abroad, I rarely pass up chances to have a genuine conversation with locals. Not questions about what I would like to buy or why I love their country but stuff that transcends the usual tourist/local spiel.

When I spent some time in Japan teaching English, I had a few opportunities to make real connections with strangers. Once, I was buying lunch in a busy bakery and there was only one seat left. A distinguished-looking older woman removed her jacket and motioned that the seat was available.

I was crunching down on a pastry when she just started talking to me. In English. I thought, “Oh well, here’s another Japanese person trying to practice her English with a foreigner.” Imagine my surprise when the conversation took many turns and corners and we ended up talking about waka poetry written about her hometown in Wakayama! If I had just sat there quietly, I would not have discovered a fellow poetry lover in a perfect stranger.

If you’re an introverted traveler, you’re not weird. Celebrate your difference and share how you see the world.

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Liebster Award Love

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Guess what? I got nominated for an award! I know it ain’t no Nobel Prize but the great thing about the Liebster Award is that it’s given to bloggers by bloggers. Liebster in German means “sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.” It’s basically a pay-it-forward movement that gives new bloggers the exposure they crave and asks them to pass on the love. Thank you These Traveling Feet for nominating me! Here are my answers to those questions you asked.

1.What made you start your own travel blog?

I decided to start my own travel blog after a trip to the UK for a uni reunion/ friend’s wedding. It was the first long-haul trip I had taken in years since I had returned home after living in the UK for four years. The trip made me remember how much I loved traveling and sharing my stories with anyone who cared to hear them. I thought a blog was the perfect platform so I started Hot Foot Trini with Blogger in 2011. I then decided to shut down the Blogger website and migrate the blog to my own domain and website in 2016.

2. Were you raised to travel? Or did you decide to be different and explore the world?

Travel was never a big thing with my family but my parents encouraged me to read. A lot. Reading inspired me to travel across borders and time and paved the way for me to actually travel when I had the means and money to do so.

3. What/Who inspires you to travel the world?

I like the challenge of travel. It forces me to wake up and really live. It taps into my survival skills and most of all, my common sense.

4. If you can be anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I would go to Iceland because it’s one of the most literate countries in the world and Reykjavik is a UNESCO city of literature. I also love the wild, open landscapes of that country. I could definitely be inspired to write more there.

5. What is your favorite travel essential?

My travel journal.

6. Is there a city you’ve been to but hate?

Hate is a very strong word. Initially, I was intimidated by Kolkata because my husband and I arrived in the city in the early morning. It seemed empty and desolate. However, when we started venturing outside over the next few days, we realized that it wasn’t scary, just different, and we soon adapted to the Indian way of doing things.

7. What is the best accommodation you’ve ever stayed in?

The best place we ever stayed was Kuniga-so on Nishinoshima in Japan’s Oki Islands. Our room was so clean and overlooked a beautiful port. The food was also really fresh and we got to see fireworks from the hotel during our stay!

8. And the worst?

The worst was in Kolkata. The staff clearly did not know we were coming. When we arrived at three in the morning, the gates were locked and we were shuffled into a sunless room that had not been cleaned. It definitely did not look like the picture on the website. There was also a tiny window with a huge, noisy generator in front of it.

9. What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen while traveling?

I’ve seen too many amazing things that it’s hard to narrow it down. Honest.

10. What is your least favorite thing about traveling?

Travel delays and wait times.

11. Do you have any tips for new bloggers?

Don’t write all your blog posts like personal diary entries. Dig deeper and write about topics and issues you face during traveling. It makes for better reading.

Right! That’s done so now I’m going to reciprocate. It’s all about the journey so here are my 11 questions to my nominated bloggers: Travelgal Nicole, Thrifty Family Travels, Jayraini, Sindi’s Suitcase, Little Discoveries, and The Bohemian Style. To read more about the initiative, here are the official rules regarding the Liebster Award 2017.

  1. What was your longest travel journey abroad?
  2. What was your shortest travel journey abroad?
  3. Describe your worst stopover.
  4. Describe your best stopover.
  5. How much was your cheapest flight ever?
  6. Describe your worst flight ever.
  7. Describe your best flight ever.
  8. Who is your best layover buddy?
  9. Describe your best experience with immigration/border control in a foreign country.
  10. Describe your worst experience with immigration/border control in a foreign country.
  11. How many flights have you missed?

Looking forward to reading those answers!