If you are introverted or are blessed with children who are "introverted," "creative," "sensitive" or "quiet," then you know that making sure your trip ends in smiles, not tears, requires patience and flexibility. Traveling with introverted children does not have to be stressful!
Utilizing the three "P"'s can help make your travel adventures much happier.
- Prioritize. Let's face it, if you try to zip through each museum as if you got bonus points for checking off every exhibit from the list, then there will likely be an avalanche of tears or at least frustration from your sensitive, creative, introverted child. So, choose what you see wisely. Pick the number one thing you all want to see and go to it first. If it is likely to have a line, or require concentration, try doing this first, while your child is not over-stimulated. If possible, try to pick something at the far corner of the museum as this is likely to be less crowded at first. Then work your way counter-clockwise to the next item on your list. You are going to see far fewer items, but likely to enjoy them more. If you are at the Henry Ford Museum and decide to go see the trains first, you know your child is going to want to ask questions about how many tons of coal the 1923 Canadian Pacific Snowplow uses, as well as study the design details of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad Passenger Coach Replica, and will likely want to imagine the route a train would likely take across the Appalachian Mountains. Trains might be where you spend most of your morning. Relax and enjoy the deep curiosity exhibited by your child!
- Pause. We always try to find time after a crowded gallery or exhibition to sneak into a quieter area for a "pause." This is quite simply a chance to find a bit of calm to allow ourselves to become centered and allow our energy to re-settle from being overstimulated. At the Detroit Institute of Arts, if we have attended a Friday evening concert, there is a wonderful hallway, near the Danto Lecture/Recital Hall with a display of puppets. Most times, we are the only ones standing in front of the showcases enjoying seeing this wonderful display of puppets from various time periods, wondering what their voices might sound like or if they have a favorite "role." Usually, after only a few minutes, we are all refreshed and ready to dive back into a more crowded area.
- Pack Paper and Pencils. You know at some point that the best thing you can do is to allow your child to express themselves creatively. Having materials on hand for those times when your child is so absorbed in a scene or exhibit that they simply have to express themselves is essential for happiness. This could be while sitting in the cafeteria in the lower level of the Detroit Historical Museum as your child sketches the cobblestone streets or writes a story from the point of view one of the shop keepers. Or maybe just draw a fantastic scene not related to what they are experiencing is in order. Just remember, time for reflection and creativity are often essential for the introverted or sensitive individual to process the world and express their true selves.
The overall tip, as you know, is to simply go with the flow, and don't be afraid to tell friends and family that no you did not see the lower falls at Tahquamenon, you were too busy watching the ants carry bread crumbs along the trail- and that was just enough.
If you have not read these two wonderful books, please check them out. I have heard parents say that they finally understand their children after learning about introversion through Susan Cain's Quiet- The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. Elaine Aron's The Highly Sensitive Person is also wonderful. Although being Highly Sensitive and introverted are not necessarily the same, there are lots of people who are both and many of the same tips and insights apply. I really have found the Susan Cain book to be absolutely inspirational and it helps for all of us who are introverted to know that we are not alone!
Enjoy and Travel Together! (This post was updated from a January 2017 post-thanks for reading!)