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Travelling With an Extrovert When You’re an Introvert

Growing up it didn’t take me very long to realize that my mother isn’t like other mothers. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great mum. The best. But she’s not the cookie-cutter (metaphorically and literally) mother I remember often witnessing at primary school. You know the ones with the home-baked cookies and blue and white striped shirts. The gossipy, whisper-y, well to do mothers.

Mum in Norway
Mum in Norway

Instead she’s loud. Her laugh is the loudest laugh you’ve ever heard. She’s incredibly funny and spontaneous, sometimes frustratingly so; it wasn’t out of place in high school for us to have popcorn or pancakes for dinner. She can also talk to anyone about anything and because of that often runs late. Case in point she once copped two parking tickets while talking to one of my teachers at primary school for what felt like two hours. She also happened to be parked across the school drive way at the time too. Yes, my mum isn’t like other mothers. Instead, she’s a bit of a bad-ass and a total extrovert.

Me in Budapest
Me in Budapest

I’ve always been very close to my mother and because of that, I’ve grown up to be the yin to her yang. I like to be organised, and always 5 minutes early. I like to plan things, being social can sometimes drain my energy and I’ve never received a parking ticket. I am, admittedly, a boring introvert.

One thing that has been passed down to me (apart from a ‘everything is funny’ attitude), is a love for travel. And so, my mother and I have taken many trips over the years, more recently to Italy, Norway and Romania. These trips have been the best of times, and the worst of times, and over the years I have learnt that travelling with an extrovert when you’re an introvert is a difficult balancing act, even when that person is your mother. These are some of my learnings so far:

Swimming in Darwin
Swimming together in the Northern Territory

Plan some things but not everything

My mother could easily arrive in a completely foreign destination and just wing it. Hire a car, choose a direction and just drive. Me on the other hand, I like to plan things. Not because I don’t want to be adventurous, but I’m of the Aziz Ansari generation where I’d rather book the best than spontaneously experience the average. And so, here in lies the extravert/introvert clash numero uno. Over the years we’ve learnt to comprise. I often book our accommodation and secretly star a few restaurants on my google maps just in case we happen to stroll by, while I leave the ‘things to do’ or route to take part of the trip to chance.

Make time for quiet time, and make it obvious

There’s a reason I write for a living; I don’t like to talk too much. Sure I like to chat with friends, but if I had to talk all day every day I’d struggle to get out of bed in the mornings. My mother, being the extrovert she is, loves to talk and spends her days talking for a living. With this key difference, travelling together can be tiring for me, and boring for her. To compromise, I make sure I make an effort to talk and listen as much as I can, but also make a note to switch off and recharge my batteries for a few hours each day. Doing this requires me to be quite obvious in what I need – just putting in headphones to listen to music won’t stop my mum from talking to me. Instead I’ve had success at reading a book, or taking a bath, or both at the same time.

Mum drove in Italy
Only a badass mum like mine would drive in Italy

Welcome distractions during stress

Growing up with a care-free, spirited mother, while having its advantages, has also seen me develop a mild case of anxiety. The worst of which often hits me on the day of a flight. I’ve written about my airport anxiety before  and how I try my best to deal with it, but the biggest cure I’ve come to realise is a laughing distraction in the form of my mum. Her carefree nature does actually help to ease my stress and her ability to make me laugh till I snort is a great way to pass the time instead of constantly checking the clock.

Be patient

Urgh, it’s such a cliche. But it’s true. I guess it applies to travelling with anyone, but especially when travelling with your mother and she’s an extrovert and you’re not.

Travelling with a loved one can be stressful. Always make time to mediate. Meditating for a whole day is even better.

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