How to Be a Homebody Who Leaves Home
Deep down inside, I’m a homebody. There’s nothing I enjoy more than nestling into my own bed, burrowing into a pile of pillows, and draping myself in fuzzy blankets with a book, an empty schedule, and no one to disturb me. As a self-declared introvert, I don’t just crave this alone time at home in familiar surroundings, I need it to recharge, to be myself again. In light of this fact, loving travel may seem counterintuitive. How can I have long elaborate daydreams about venturing to far off places, to spending long weekends in cities, and weeks exploring unknown countrysides when all I really ever want to do is stay at home? How can I plan trips and go away when home is always tugging at my heart strings?
I have accepted invitations to weekend trips or evenings out because I felt guilty indulging in my introverted desire for solitude. Pressure comes from not wanting to disappoint someone else, feeling as if I’m obligated to do or go somewhere, and my own fear of missing out. As a traveler, I also feel pressured to be more extroverted, to put myself out there and talk to strangers and locals to acclimate with my surroundings. And while this isn’t necessarily bad advice, it’s also not necessarily me.
Getting out of your comfort zone is an important part of experiencing new places and things. Trying new food, activities, and events can be eye-opening, even freeing. But, it also doesn’t always have to be right for you. I like to try things once or twice and if they don’t work, they don’t work. I don’t have to force myself to make uncomfortable small talk with someone on a train because I read an article somewhere that said I should. And I certainly don’t have to spend months away from home to really enjoy and appreciate travel. We all have our own styles. I can take mini day trips, or weekend jaunts where staying in a hotel still feels as exciting and new as it did when I was a little kid expanding my horizons and taking the world in.
Go your own way
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain insists that you, “Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to. Stay home on New Year's Eve if that's what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story.” She tells us to stay true to ourselves and I think that applies when it comes to traveling as well.
In the next breath, Susan also says, “Make a deal with yourself that you'll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.” Don’t close yourself off from the world. Take care of the things you have to take care of, and don’t miss out on the things you want to do because staying home seems easier. Caving to friends’ pressure has led to some amazing experiences and memories that were much better than staying at home on my couch. Don’t force yourself to travel a certain way if you don’t want to, but make sure you’re not putting up walls and limitations for yourself either. Go your own way, but make sure you still go.
At the end of the day, you have to find a balance between satisfying your introverted needs and the alluring whisper of the road. Whether that means planning to pamper yourself with an afternoon alone at your hotel, or saying “no” to back-to-back trips. You don’t have to change who you are to see the world and feel like a “real traveler.” A traveling homebody isn’t an anomaly. We just know when we’ve exhausted our stay and it’s time for a break.
We simply know where we belong.