5 Travel Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person

June 16, 2015
5 Travel Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person

As my friends know, I love to travel. What they might not know is that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). The general population is likely unfamiliar with this term, so allow me to give a brief definition from Elaine A. Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person. She states, “Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population–too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.”

Elaine expands briefly on her website to mention that HSPs are more easily overwhelmed by stimuli, that the trait is innate, and that highly sensitive people tend to be very perceptive of their environment (we pick up on and are more upset by loud noises, bad smells, bright lights, and things of that nature). On the plus side, Highly Sensitive People can develop a deep appreciation of sounds, scents, foods, and works of art.

While there are occasional downfalls to being a HSP, they shouldn’t deter you from seeing the sights and sounds of the world. I have created a list of five steps one can follow as a Highly Sensitive Person to make traveling flow more smoothly.

5 Travel Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person

1. Keep your schedule flexible

You arrive at your destination, and you only have a week, perhaps two, to see and do everything you’ve dreamed of. There are a plethora of sites to visit no matter where you go, however, I suggest visiting one place or completing one activity per day. Whether that be a museum, a new city, or horseback riding, keeping your schedule light can help avoid stress. Being an HSP can require us to take things one step at a time.

Overloading yourself can leave you feeling frazzled, or worse, sick. I spent two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico during this past January with students from my university, along with a faculty member, and I found our schedule tried to accomplish too much at once. There was not enough downtime, and as a result I found myself very sick on the last day of our excursion. If you can, create your own travel schedule.

2. Invest in a good pair of headphones

Airports are noisy, and perhaps are one of the worst parts of travel for a Highly Sensitive Person. Your destination may be loud as well. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of airports or large cities hold you back. If you become stuck at an airport for an extended period of time, it can be worrisome and cause you to lose energy even faster, especially when you’re fatigued after being in and out of different airports all day to begin with. Headphones and a good playlist can help calm down even the tensest Highly Sensitive Person I’ve noticed.

3. Avoid crowds

This may not be possible depending upon where you are going, especially if you aren’t the one choosing what city or country to visit. However, for a Highly Sensitive Person, crowds can zap our energy supply in just a few short moments. If you must deal with crowds, have headphones ready (if safe to use–it depends upon your location as it’s important to also be perceptive of your environment, especially in a foreign country).

5 Travel Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person.

4. Establish a “safe haven”

For me, this is perhaps one of the most important aspects of traveling as a Highly Sensitive Person. I require a “safe haven” to retreat to at the end of the day, a place where I can rest and recharge. This haven may be a hotel room, a spare bedroom with a host family, a hot bath, etc. Finding “me” time isn’t selfish: it’s often necessary for HSPs to recharge and reflect upon their day. If you’re in shared living quarters, perhaps finding a separate place to recharge during the day would be an alternative: HSPs can greatly benefit from spending time in nature as well. Speaking of nature…

5. Spend time outside

Highly Sensitive People often find themselves connected with nature on some level. Your travel itinerary should ideally include at least one nature site. What does the country you’re traveling to have to offer? Rain forests, mountains, a park down the street? Find an outdoor activity to engage in, (I’ve found hiking to be therapeutic) or a quiet place to meditate, journal, and reflect upon your travels so far.


What other techniques have you utilized to make traveling enjoyable as highly sensitive person?

5 Travel Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person photo credit: unsplash

About Sarah Wargin

Sarah hails from Northern Wisconsin and finds pleasure in learning foreign languages, traveling, and reading. She speaks Spanish fluently and can manage a basic conversation in Japanese. After college, her plan is to teach English overseas.

3 thoughts on “5 Travel Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person

  1. Shelley St Clair
    December 2, 2017

    Thanks so much for these tips, Sarah. I already know the thing about having headphones handy. . . I actually use total sound-blocking phones like the ones that guys (and women) wear when mowing a lawn with a riding mower. I am getting ready to travel (by jet) for xmas, and my problem is I dont know if they will allow them to go through security. I could not stand parting with them. I have hearing like a fox. Do you know anything about these particular headphones being allowed on the plane? The last day that I travelled, this past March, I had two stopovers from Cincinnatti to Boston, and it was such a heavy travelling day; My personal space was constantly being bombarded, and then I had to take the bus back home to Portland, ME, and there were NO empty seats. I was having a MELTDOWN on the bus. I had had it. Any ideas?

  2. Laurie Otis
    June 16, 2015

    Hi Sarah, Congratulations! It’s well written and helpful. I am a fan of your Mother’s FB posts and detect a slight “tongue in cheek” element in your writing that I always enjoy in your Mom.

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