If you, or someone you are traveling with is one of the millions of introverted or shy voyagers then this is the bed and breakfast guide for you! Very quick PSA they are not the same. Introversion and shyness have been incorrectly tied together for ages, but evidence supports that they have differing motivations. In a nutshell, introverts prefer to be alone or in small groups, within a minimally stimulating environment. Those who are shy want to be around others but are kept from participating in social gatherings by an intense fear of negative judgement. Some lucky people, such as myself, are both! And as such, travel can be both daunting and scary. But I have learned to navigate my internal compass toward travel that can fulfill my yearning for exploration and keep my needs met.

It took some convincing, but I now believe that the right bed and breakfast can be the perfect setting for introverts or shy travelers.

Introverts, “come on down” …

Mind you, introverts are not necessarily lonely or fearful. They simply feel rejuvenated from spending quiet time in a subdued, solitary environment. I am a proud introvert. My spouse? A proud extrovert. I absolutely dread social gathering and they look forward to them. I don’t feel the need to connect with people quite as frequently. And afterwards? I’m drained and exhausted while they are renewed and energized.

What I have discovered is that a bed and breakfast is ideal because interactions can be kept to a very fine minimum. Guests are limited and at its core, the bed and breakfast naturally provides the quintessential introverted environment. The atmosphere is not generally overwhelming, extensive or super interactive. The only stimulation you will find is in the unique style of the bed and breakfast, hopefully chock full with the comforts of home and the smell of fresh coffee and breakfast in the morning.

You’re up my shy friends…

Being shy or socially anxious makes travel and interactions in the world a little more complex to navigate than our introverted friends. But rest assured, I have been there and have a helpful tips.

Here’s my secret:

The most successful precursor to a positive travel experience in my opinion, is the development of a pseudo-relationship with a contact person at the destination. I do this as much as possible and in as many situations as I can. Communicating through email or text is way less scary for my shy self. This is the best way I have found to open the door and express my needs and wants. It’s a way to, at a safe distance, describe the kind of getaway I’m looking for. Explain my search for something noninvasive, even mentioning that I’m a bit shy and prefer to be left to my own devices. I find this interaction is a fantastic way to way to feel out the owner and evaluate if they are understanding and willing to accommodate. Then, when I arrive, I already feel like I sort of know them, thus the intense fear has diminished a bit.

Proactive requests or inquires:

With respect to the ever-scary communal breakfast: (1) ask if they have small table seating instead of a large family style table, (2) inquire about the possibility of room service for your meal, (3) see if there is a slightly different breakfast time, or if none of those options are possible for the good reason of added burden on the innkeeper, (4) ask for breakfast to go.

Also inquire about how many common areas are available for respite that you can retreat to. You don’t want to feel cooped up and stuck in your bedroom the entire stay, unless that’s what you’re looking for. Find a bed and breakfast with a few options for common area breathing space.

One of my favorites, always keep a book or your device with you. Any normal person won’t be interrupting your reading or working to strike up a conversation. And, they might even take their conversation with others to another room, leaving you blissfully to yourself.

My best offer of encouragement to all my introverted, shy and socially anxious friends is, don’t feel bad for not taking part in the typical bed and breakfast traditions or suggested guidelines you’ve heard about. The traditions are changing with the times the guidelines are not set in stone. You can find some really great, accommodating inns for your introverted or shy needs. Go out there, find a bed and breakfast, message the innkeeper and get your travel on!

Alan Ohara