How A Family of Introverts Vacations Best
We found the perfect family activity to connect with each other while feeding our introverted souls.
My mom misunderstands me
I vividly recall the first time I ever heard about introverts and extroverts. It happened in elementary school. As my teacher talked about the difference between people who need alone time to recharge versus those who gain energy from being with others, I had a classic lightbulb moment. Truths about myself flashed brightly in my mind as various facts slotted into the new to me category of introvert to create a picture that made sense for the first time.
I remember rushing home at the end of the day eager to share this new insight into my personality with my mother. I’ll never forget her reaction.
“You are not an introvert. No child of mine is an introvert.”
I was a bit taken aback. I pulled out my new information and parroted my teacher’s words. There was nothing better about being an introvert or an extrovert. It was just two different ways of processing time with others.
My mom wasn’t having it. In her mind introvert equaled shy, quiet, doesn’t play well with others. Extrovert equaled great people person who will go far in this world.
The irony here is that while my mom is probably closer to the middle of the scale than on the extreme end, she is almost certainly an introvert herself.
In any case, my mom’s dismissal did not change my new found self-understanding. I had never been more certain about anything I had learned about myself in school than the truth that I was an introvert.
Now I’m the mom
In our family of five, we are all introverts to varying degrees. Our other personality traits vary widely so all is not hunky-dory love and understanding in the household by any means, but we do get each other’s need for time alone.
We’ve also been lucky enough to live in several different places and travel the world which has created some interesting challenges for a family of introverts. The two weeks we spent crammed together in a single hotel room while house hunting in Japan come to mind as a particularly interesting challenge.
We all love to travel and vacation together but the levels of togetherness forced by cramped accommodations, hours in a vehicle, and all activities of the day done together can add up to overload.
So I was thrilled when we stumbled on the absolutely perfect family activity for us.
Snorkeling is the overloaded introverted family’s dream. It isn’t an everyday activity so it is suitably exciting and vacation appropriate. You are all doing the same thing at the same time yet from the moment you put on that mask and snorkel and swim out into the sea you are in your own refreshing little sensory bubble even if you are right next to a family member.
The outside world is instantly shut off and there is a new and interesting world to explore. You float around delighted by the colorful fish swimming around you.
Occasionally you might bump into a family member and point to a particularly interesting sight before floating off into your own thoughts and explorations again.
If someone gets tired of snorkeling there is a beach right there to play in the sand or take a nap or read a book with none of that I’m tired of this place can we go do something else energy so detrimental to family holidays.
Find your own introverted family happy place
Not every trip, sadly, can involve snorkeling. But I can share some additional tips to help you enjoy vacations together if your family contains one or more introverts.
- Lodging matters. If you can afford extra space it is worth paying for. If you are in a small space don’t be afraid to think creatively. I’ve had kids sleep in the closet giving them needed and appreciated private space. The bathroom can double as a private playroom or reading nook for brief periods of time.
- Everyone doesn’t have to do everything. Find ways to let individuals opt out of activities. This is easier once children are old enough to be left alone in a hotel room but with some creativity, it can be pulled off with younger children as well. Travel with a stash of quiet activities and you can park a child with a sketchbook and pencil in a cathedral pew while the parents wander around with one eye on the awesome art and one eye on the child.
- Listen to each other and respect limits. A vacation is only a vacation if everyone enjoys it. Try to plan ahead to provide off-ramps for the overwhelmed introvert, but also encourage everyone to be flexible and prepared to stretch themselves. Most of all be gracious with each other.