Living in Chicago as an introvert was easy. You didn't have to make eye contact with anyone walking on the street. No one would stare at you on the bus. And if someone happened to try to interrupt you while you were reading your book at the bar while enjoying a happy hour special, you could simply ask them politely to go away with the worst consequence being called a 'bitch.' It was easy to revel in your 'alone' time, as well as easy enough to meet with the few friends you have to relish in some social interaction.
But traveling and living abroad as an introvert can prove challenging at times. People stare at your blond hair, ask to take pictures with you, and are sometimes more than willing to share their life stories with you (TMI). The easiest solution to stop all this would be just to put on your earphones, turn up the music, and blank out the world when you need your 'alone' time, but traveling isn't about this. Traveling is about using any and all available senses to observe the world.
Here's the thing, being an introvert doesn't mean you are shy. It means you need your alone time to recharge yourself. People can be draining. There was a really cool group of ex-pats I knew in Thailand that would take huge group trips together to some of the most beautiful locations. The plus side was you get group discounts. The minus side was that there were 20 people with 20 different opinions.
Don't get me wrong, groups can be invigorating. After participating in a MMA class (mixed-martial arts), I realized that having stronger folks around me pushed me more than I would have if I was by myself. It created the competitive environment I needed. But hiking through a jungle with 20 people around me would surely decrease my own personal satisfaction if I were in a remote location. Sounds produced by others can scare potential bid-sightings. People walk at different paces and possess different attitudes.
I've chosen my travel partners very carefully. I can deal with their quirks, and because I am very loyal to them and care for them deeply, I keep those rose-colored glasses on with happiness. But when I'm placed with 20 more unchosen quirks to deal with, life (for an impatient and competitive soul) can become a little frustrating.
Traveling for an introvert can be rewarding. Many times, you surprise yourself at how you excel in situations outside of your comfort zone. You can even surprise yourself how easy it is for friendships to spontaneously begin. The only thing you need, in reality, is to find those moments to yourself where you can breathe and reflect in quiet. Those are the moments that will keep your sanity. Learning how to say 'no' to an invitation can prove you will be a better guest for the next one. Lets prove to the world that introverts do embrace it all with open arms. We aren't hermits. We just deal better in smaller groups where interaction seems easier. And we promise, we like you too, we just might need a little less of you than your wonderfully extroverted group of friends do.