Family Travel with the Introvert Mom


I recently read an essay called Confessions of an Introverted Traveler by Sophia Dembling on The author defends being a traveler who also happens to eschew lots of social interaction. It really resonated with me. I love to be alone. I do not naturally strike up conversations with nearby human beings. I need down time each day. 

Kids Require Lots of Talking

And yet I’m a mom, and young humans need lots of interaction. When my kids were talkative toddlers, at the end of the day I’d say “I can’t talk anymore.” When the kids napped, my sleep-deprived brain craved the pages of a good book more than it craved a nap of my own. It took me years to figure out that I could satisfy my desire to help at the kids’ school by re-shelving books in the library instead of being in the classroom full of loud, messy students doing art. Chaperoning a field trip takes all I’ve got and I return home spent. My ideal job outside of being ‘mom’ is researching, or accounting, or arranging information on a computer. 

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Travel Means We’re Always Together

Imagine me spending two weeks sharing every meal, every activity, and every night in a hotel room with my kids and spouse. You might wonder how any parent can maintain steady authority, a peaceful demeanor, and sanity with long days of managing kids and all their stuff while visiting multiple kid-friendly places. For an extrovert parent, a vacation with 24/7 togetherness would be difficult. I can tell you that for an introvert like me, vacationing like this takes an extraordinary amount, a climb-Mt.-Everest amount, a run-a-marathon amount, of endurance. 

Don’t get me wrong – I adore my kids, and truly want to travel with them. (Photo is of us at the airport.) The mornings, noons, and nights that we are together solidify our sense of family. Before we knew what ‘attachment parenting’ was, we were sort of doing it, or at least parts of it. Being with our kids a lot is what we like to do. So except for anniversary weekends for just me and hubby, we vacation as a family of 5. 

Recharge at the End of Each Day

Prior to our family departure, I spend weeks mentally ‘gearing-up’ because I know that with 3 kids, there is nearly constant talking. There’s the instructional talking of directing kids (get your carry bag, say ‘thank you’, try a bite of this, look over there, brush your teeth), the descriptive talking of paraphrasing attraction display words, the clenched-jaw talking when admonishing one son to stop annoying another son, and the general conversational talking that occurs as we amble through our itinerary. I somehow make it through each day, mostly enjoying all the verbal exchanges. But I get tired from sight-seeing, and even more tired from simply being with people, even my favorite people, all day.

My recharge time begins at each day’s end. In our hotel family room for 5, my children and hubby settled, I read. It may be very late, my eyes may be burning, and everyone else may be asleep, all of us exhausted from that day’s adventure, and still, I read. Just fifteen to thirty minutes of escape in the pages is enough to provide energy necessary for an introvert like me to get through the next day. Barely. 


Sandy Nielsen


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