Me: Introvert, Solo backpacker and now Overlander

This post is about me #selfish but possibly also about you. I cannot expect you to follow my 10 year trip around Africa without divulging some personal information. Not the boring where I grew up and what I do for a living stuff, but the good stuff, the travel stuff.

I am not one for labels (and then he writes an entire post about labels), I have avoided them all my life, but we are bombarded with them on a daily basis. My biggest issue with labels is that they are typically used to discriminate against persons instead of understanding and cherishment. Trust me we have an abundance of that in Southern Africa!

So I tread cautiously when assigning them even to myself. However, I cannot deny that I fall into some of these which inevitably also made their way into travel. Today you’ll find hundreds of blogs, articles and social media accounts dedicated to promoting some of them, or the so called niche. I’d like to talk about some of them and how they’ve influenced me, and possibly you, over the years.

The Introvert

The terms “introvert” and “extrovert” originate from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type. An introvert, in general, is a person that prefers to spend time on their own or in smaller groups, are more reserved and quiet, independent, thoughtful, planning orientated and “deeper” thinkers.  A “preference for the inner life of the mind over the outer world of other people”. This is in general and not an exhaustive definition.

I choose to identify as an introvert, purely because I share so many of the traits and it helps me comprehend and when needed adapt my behavior.  So how does this relate to travel and me? Many people imply that introverts don’t like to travel? It confuses the hell out of me. Yes we enjoy alone time, but can alone time not be enjoyed on the road? On a lonely beach, with a good book and your mind to keep you company…. Or a long walk getting lost in an old city taking in the sites… I once spent 2 days walking around in Paris, only once conversing with the lady that sold me my coffee and croissants.

Nor does it take away from your independence. I mean its travel, not work. You set the itinerary, you decide where and when plus bonus you get to plan it all. This might be more difficult in larger groups, but then adapt to those situations. Like I said understand the label and prepare yourself. The greatest fallacy to me is that introverts do not enjoy travel, they might like it a bit different, but they definitely can and should be travelling.

Solo backpacker

I guess it is because of my introverted tendencies that I ended up being a solo backpacker. The solo is self-explanatory as I simply prefer to spend time on my own, this includes travel. My first activity at any new destination is hiking and walking tours which I always end up doing by myself. Spending days lounging alone on a beach with a book that’s me. Like they say, the best company is your own… or did I just make that up?

Backpacking came about purely, in my opinion, cause it is the most budget and adventurous means to travel. Nothing gets me more excited than strapping a pack on my back, getting on a plane, exploring a new destination and it does not cost an arm or a leg.

In fact backpacking has accommodated my introvertedness. As a solo traveler at a backpackers you can easily open up to other travelers. Always remember that at a backpackers you already have a group of people that share a commonalty in travel. You are part of that and everybody wants to share, tell travel stories and make more travel memories, so join in. At any time, should it all become too overwhelming or socially exhausting simply withdraw yourself from the crowd no questions asked, no judging.   

Converted Overlander

And now for the @5410Africa trip I have become an overlander. I have never owned a 4×4 vehicle before. I have hired many as the need arose. I’ve driven many because I live in Namibia and friends and family own them, but this is my first time.

I presume my attraction can be connected to my introversion. Overlanding Africa will allow me a lot of independence and time to myself. A lot of this isolated in some of the most remote locations in the world. I can only imagine spending days not seeing another living sole, how exciting 🙂

But on the other hand and in a manner similar to a backpackers it will allow me to connect with locals and other individuals at my choosing and pace. This is an area where I’ll need to come out of my shell and leave my comfort zone as I want to share Africa as much as possible. This will require me to explore and interact significantly more than I usually do. Fortunately, I am aware of the barriers posed by being an introvert so hopefully I’ll be able to overcome them.

Then again there will be those friendly faces that I’ve come to know on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as this platform which will welcome me to their countries and into their homes. Providing me with a safe space to recharge my social batteries.  Maybe this is why I am writing this post, to start establishing relationships that will allow me to travel Africa more comfortably as an introvert.  I deal pretty well with being an introvert, but even for me the noise on the road can get too much.   

Are you an introvert? How do you find traveling? Which style of travel do you prefer?


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