No Party, No Problem: Five Advantages of Being an Introverted Adventurer

©istockphoto/Alexander ChernyakovIf you’d rather take a walk on the qui­et side than the wild side, you’re not alone. In fact, with any­where from one-third to a full half of Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fy­ing as intro­verts, you are—perhaps ironically—in good com­pa­ny! And there’s plen­ty of perks to be had as an intro­vert­ed explor­er of the great outdoors.

Solo is Simpler
Being most com­fort­able in your own com­pa­ny cre­ates a cor­nu­copia of choice camp­ing for you: max­i­mum site capac­i­ties aren’t even on your radar, and scor­ing a sin­gle per­mit is always going to be eas­i­er than grab­bing two or three. And while oth­er peo­ple are scram­bling to find and book camp­sites for six or eight or twen­ty of their favorite humans, not to men­tion coor­di­nat­ing all those sched­ules and all that gear, you can sim­ply pick up your pack and head out into the wildest blue yon­der you can imagine.

Crushin’ Cre­ativ­i­ty
Ansel Adams. Cheryl Strayed. Hen­ry David Thore­au. JK Rowl­ing. If you’re more of a think­ing intro­vert than a social intro­vert, eas­i­ly lost in your own fan­tas­ti­cal inner worlds and giv­en to feats of intro­spec­tion and self-reflec­tion, you could do with worse inspi­ra­tion for your imag­i­na­tive for­ays than some of our world’s nat­ur­al won­ders. Pack your favorite jour­nal to jot down your men­tal mean­der­ings and you’ll be able to return with more than just mem­o­ries of your adventure.

Spe­cial­iza­tion and Focus
There’s a good rea­son why Men­sa mem­ber­ship is dom­i­nat­ed by intro­verts. We love to get real­ly, real­ly good at what we do, and our brains are well-suit­ed for sup­ply­ing the focus we need to get us there. For­tu­nate­ly, there are plen­ty of out­door activ­i­ties that reward our fla­vor of intense study, from the reward­ing inten­si­ty of tech­ni­cal slot canyons to the patient hyper­fo­cus of the wildlife pho­tog­ra­ph­er aim­ing for the per­fect shot.

Silence is Golden
Intro­verts are per­haps infa­mous for our qui­etude. Of course, we know these still waters run deep—our brains lit­er­al­ly process infor­ma­tion dif­fer­ent­ly than extro­verts, using longer neur­al cir­cuit­ry that invokes both long-term mem­o­ry and plan­ning centers—but to the chat­ty world out­side our heads, we just seem like good neigh­bors. After all, nobody’s going to call the rangers on you for being too qui­et! And Moth­er Nature her­self may even reward your respect­ful silences with glimpses of ani­mals that nois­i­er campers might dri­ve off.

Brag­ging Rights
Irony by any oth­er name would be no less deli­cious, but it’s true: peo­ple are more impressed by solo achieve­ments than group ones. And it makes sense, con­sid­er­ing that one of the most com­mon def­i­n­i­tions of extra­ver­sion is feel­ing ener­gized by the com­pa­ny of oth­ers; going with­out oth­er peo­ple must seem a sort of psy­chic depri­va­tion if you’re used to rely­ing on your friends to recharge you. Inten­tion­al­ly spend­ing time alone? That’s bananas. Inten­tion­al­ly spend­ing time alone with noth­ing but your own gear, grit, and wit? And bag­ging a four­teen­er to boot? That makes you a rock­star.