Although traveling can cause more overstimulation for HSPs, there are countless ways our sensitive nature becomes our biggest asset.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered I was a highly sensitive person (HSP), through a personality test at work. Finally, there was an answer to why I feel emotion so intensely and why I get easily overstimulated by my environment. It also provided an explanation for my many other personality “quirks” (like not being a fan of scary movies or crying very easily).
As I learned more about my personality, I started to see all the positives of being an HSP (such as being empathetic, attentive to detail, creative, self-aware, and on and on) and began to appreciate more who I am as a person.
Though the chaotic nature of traveling can be stressful as an HSP, over the years, I’ve discovered that there are also a lot of wonderful ways my highly sensitive personality enhances my adventures. Here are some of them, and perhaps you’ll be able to relate.
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5 Reasons Why HSPs Are Pros at Traveling
1. You make time to take it all in, noticing even the smallest details.
Because HSPs tend to be more introspective and extremely observant of their surroundings, no matter what kind of trip I’m on, I somehow always find a way to stop, breathe, and take in my surroundings. While others may rush on to the next thing, or plow through the sights and sounds, I love to find a place to sit and observe (or even just stand still for a moment), to let the experience sink in. After all, little things make us HSPs happy.
On a recent family vacation to my favorite place on Earth, Galveston, Texas, I loved being able to walk up to the edge of the ocean and listen to the seagulls, watch the waves roll in and out, dig my toes into the sand, and breathe in the salty air. Even now as I write this article on my couch back in Iowa, I can picture — and feel — exactly what I felt in that moment, all because I took the time to make the memory. I’m sure my fellow HSPs can relate…
2. You experience the local culture, not just the tourist attractions.
I care deeply about other people’s comfort and feelings — and strive to research customs, traditions, and local do’s and don’ts before I go somewhere. This way, I try my best to be a respectful visitor. This part of my personality also pushes me to venture outside of the more touristy areas and delve into the local culture.
As a sensitive person, my empathy — and ability to imagine myself in other people’s shoes — makes me curious about what it would be like to live in different places as a resident, going about daily life. One of my favorite memories from my trip to London was getting away from the tourist attractions and finding a local café off the beaten path in a more residential area to see what it’s like to live in the city.
The people at the tables were obviously locals who were just starting off their day, buying the same drinks and pastries that they probably bought every morning. The waitress was very sweet and friendly, and I asked if she’d make me a cup of tea the way she makes her own tea (as I had no idea what a proper cup of tea even entailed). She made me one of the best cups of tea that I’ve ever had! For an hour or so, I sipped on it and watched the rain come down outside while people rushed many different directions, thoroughly enjoying every second.
3. You can (almost) travel through time.
HSPs tend to be introspective, very aware of their environment, and have vivid imaginations. As a child, I spent a lot of time in my own world and played pretend far longer than any of my friends. Even now, as a writer of historical fiction, my imagination is constantly at work.
Those same traits lend themselves to one of my absolute favorite things about my personality: My ability to travel through time.
When I travel, I always try to pick a place that is bursting at the seams with history. I relish being able to stand on the same steps of a building where a king or queen once stood, walk trails forged by pioneers, or visit the ghost of villages inhabited by people thousands of years before.
That’s one of the many reasons why my visit to Ireland during college is still one of my favorite trips. The history there blew me away, from the well-worn stairs of Blarney Castle to the remote Aran Islands that seem to have hardly changed at all in the last 100 years.
I can imagine what life was like when the old places were new, when the conveniences we take for granted weren’t invented yet, and visit an era, in addition to a place.
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4. You pick unique, memorable souvenirs that embody the emotions and feelings you had on the trip.
Being a highly sensitive person, I’m very aware of how my environment (or different objects) make me feel emotionally. I’m picky about the texture of my clothing and how comfortable it is, how things are organized and arranged, and tune in right away to the atmosphere of a place.
So when I travel, I tend to pick out some pretty unique souvenirs. When I decide to bring back an object as a memento of a trip, I want it to capture all the emotions and feelings I had when I was there. It isn’t often I buy a souvenir for looks alone.
When my husband and I visited Clear Lake, Iowa for a weekend anniversary trip, for instance, I walked away with three bronze horse figurines from an antique shop. On the outside, they seem to have nothing to do with our day out boating on the lake, listening to live music in the park, or our picnic lunch. But something about the pleasant weight of the figurines, their shiny color, and the fact that my husband spotted them and thought of me, all made them the perfect souvenir. Every time I look at them on my bookshelf, I think about the quaint atmosphere of the town, the gleam of the summer sun, and my wonderful relationship with my husband.
5. You’re a good travel partner — and you’ll keep the overstimulation in check.
Travel tends to bring out people’s emotions unlike anything else — whether it’s a delayed flight, plans thwarted by weather, or lost luggage.
As an HSP, and also an empath, I’m extremely sensitive to other people’s emotions and desire to resolve conflict. When trips take an unexpected turn, I look for ways to understand and partner with my traveling buddy rather than escalate an already-frustrating situation. For me, the people I’m with are the most important part of the adventure.
For example, when my husband and I took a trip to the beach recently, we found that the rental car company had given away our reserved car due to a mix-up — and no other rental cars were available on the island. While my husband and I were both overwhelmed at first, I could tell that if we focused on our frustrations, things would go even more awry. Instead, we worked together to make a plan and decided to take a step back to gather our thoughts.
We ended up having a nice breakfast together while we figured things out, took the best 2-mile walk along the beach, and met some amazing Uber drivers (who even told us about a local seafood place that quickly became a trip highlight). These are all things we would have missed out on had we let our emotions derail us (which is easy for us HSPs, trust me). So, the less overstimulated we can be, the better.
Though traveling can be challenging as an HSP, don’t forget to take note of how your sensitive personality enriches your experiences. The way you see the world is unique and exciting, so embrace your strengths and make the most out of every adventure.
My fellow HSP travelers, what would you add to the list? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
You might like:
- Solo Travel Tips for Highly Sensitive People
- Why Travel Is Hard for HSPs (and How to Enjoy It More)
- 7 Little Things That Make Highly Sensitive People Happy
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