What it's like to be an introvert and a solo full-time traveler.
Hi. I’m Amanda and I’m an introvert. I also travel the world full-time by myself. So, I spend an extraordinary amount of time in my own head. Here's a pretty rare spewing of some of the nonsense that rattles around in there. Because I get asked asked a lot of questions, by a lot of people, a lot of the time. These are my answers to all the questions. You're welcome. And, stay classy, San Diego.
introverts vs extroverts
Tell anyone in the world that you're a solo full-time traveler, and you will be interrogated. To the max. (And, never tell immigration.) People don’t understand how I can spend days or weeks at a time completely alone. I think only true introverts can understand.
First of all, I don't seek out social situations, I avoid them. Because for me to spend time in a social situation, then I need exactly that much downtime, usually more, to recharge afterwards. It sucks my life-force. And life-force sucking is pretty exhausting.
And second, not to toot my own horn here, but I'm a pretty unique snowflake. Being a vegan solo full-time female traveler, house-sitter, and travel blogger, definitely separates me from the normal people who have the normal lives in the little boxes. This divide can make it hard to relate to anyone that doesn't understand any of my unique lifestyle choices.
I also get asked what I do with my time. This question always confuses me because I think, well, I do the same things as everyone else. (Don't I?) I read, watch movies, take walks, explore, play with animals, eat food, sleep. Sometimes I travel. But then I consider the source of the question, and it occurs to me that extroverts plan their entire lives around, and according to, other people. They live with others, eat with others, play with others, sleep with others (insert Groucho Marx cigar antic). They’re really rarely, if ever, alone.
me, myself and i
There's a big part of me that enjoys being in countries where I can't speak the language because it's the perfect excuse to not have to engage with anyone. Here's the part where the lines between introvert and misanthrope tend to blend. Let me explain.
I always feel deep empathy and love for any animals I meet because they are sweet, innocent creatures that don't deserve harm. Not so much with the humans though. Is it just me or does the entire human race behave like an evil virus invading its host while ruthlessly destroying it and all its inhabitants? (Don't agree? Watch cowspiracy, earthlings and speciesism and get back to me on that.)
So, I like animals more than people. And I pet-sit full-time, so I'm never really all by my lonesome in the world. I'm always in the company of friends, but just more often than not, they happen to have fur or feathers.
I'm actually quite happy in my own company. I take myself out to eat, out for drinks, to the movies. I'm a great date. Being solo means I never have to compromise with anyone on anything so I can always do whatever I want, whenever I want. Which is pretty rad.
But that's how I like it. I'm selfish. I like quiet. I like solitude. I like simplicity. I would go live in an off-grid cabin in the words like Thoreau in Walden if I could. I very nearly built myself a tiny house a few years ago actually. I took a whole workshop on how to build one from scratch. But that idea never came to fruition when I realized it shackeled me to a house, even if it was a mobile one.
the anti-selfie manifesto
Just because I'm a travel blogger doesn't mean that I have to succumb to the oversharing epidemic. I share, but I do it mindfully.
I don't like selfies. So don't take them. Or videos. If you see a picture of me, I guaran-damn-tee you that somebody else took it. Most likely with a good deal of protesting from me at how ridiculous the concept even is. I don’t have a camera, camera gear, a drone, or (gasp) a selfie stick. I dont even have any photo editing programs whatsoever. There's that simplicity thing again.
When I take photos, I give my unique perspective on the world at that time, what I see, where I go, what animals I meet, the food I eat. I never wanted to be one of those people that took pictures of their food, until I realized that only by actually showing pictures of vegan food can I help people see what vegans eat, and that there are endless options of delicious plant-based foods all around the world.
However, at no point during any of this digital cluttering do I ever feel the need to show you pictures of myself doing things, shoving food into my mouth, pretending to pinch tall monuments, or showing you how bendy I can be in front of epic location backdrops. I just can't help but wonder that this odd element of third person photography distracts from living in the moment simply by its very existence.
Traveling full-time means I am homeless. No base, no address, no anchor. Nothing. Just the contents of my backpack. Oh boo, the sad story of a soul with no home. Just kidding. It's not sad. It's awesome. I have no bills.
I've always been a rolling stone. Blame DRD4-7R. What? That's right, folks, wanderlust is genetic. I was lucky enough to have parents that loved traveling and took me everywhere throughout my childhood. Then, for the 20+ years since, I've been bouncing around the world, like a pinball in an arcade game, rarely settling anywhere for longer than 6 months. I broke a lot of apartment leases and a lot of hearts. I changed cities, states, countries, jobs, homes, hair colors, you name it. Nothing sticks for too long. The curiosity and restlessness always spiral into my thoughts, until I have to experience something new. To learn, to change, to grow, to evolve, to live.
This really hit home (pun intended) on a recent visit to the one city that I most identified with in the world. The one that I had spent the most time in. The one that, when asked where I'm from, I would confidently say it out loud, and mean it pretty hard. But alas, upon return to the mothership, I was met with a shocking absence of emotion. An empty void that was almost tangible. The city was familiar, but it was not home. Maybe it never was my home at all. I couldn't identify with the people, the climate that I thought I loved was uncomfortable, and I found it difficult to live in. I had romanticized the rose city through rose-colored glasses. I just didn't fit in. I never did. And I can't help but wonder, if we are constantly changing and evolving, do we ever even really have a home?
My home is everywhere and nowhere. It's wherever my backpack is. It's the planet earth. I am a global citizen. Someone who would rather collect passport stamps than anything else in the world. Someone who is endlessly exploring.
Someone who thinks that the world is too big and life is too short and something simply must be done about it.