For introverts, trains provide the best of both worlds: You can have as much alone time as you need, yet people are just a seat or two away.
I love traveling and adventuring to new places. As a city girl who grew up in San Francisco, and as someone who’s lived abroad in several cities — like Beijing, Tokyo, and Kaohsiung — I am most familiar with the bus and train systems. Of the two systems, I prefer trains over buses.
I enjoy train rides because I am less prone to motion sickness and love the hassle-free experience of traveling by train. Plus, trains come in all shapes, sizes, and types, depending on where you are in the world. In Asian countries, for example, I love how travelers can choose between regular and high-speed trains: high-speed trains can reach up to 300-350 km/hr, which is equivalent to 190-220 mph! If you aren’t in a hurry to reach your destination, you can take the regular trains and (literally) take time to enjoy the scenery. All in all, I feel train rides are especially calming for introverts. Here’s why.
5 Reasons Why Train Rides Are So Calming for Introverts
1. Travel plans are less likely to change.
As an introvert who loves to travel, I cope with my raised levels of anxiety from the uncertainty of traveling by overcompensating with detailed planning ahead of time. While last-minute changes are inevitable, I cope with changes by thinking through different scenarios in advance.
Among the different modes of transportation for traveling, I enjoy train rides the most because there are less opportunities for changes. Compared to flying, trains are less troublesome because there are less checkpoints for security and baggage. This reduces the possibility of missing a boarding time due to long lines or being held up at security for baggage checks.
By reducing the possibility of dealing with the unexpected, I feel much more reassured. On the other hand, while buses are equally easy to travel on, trains are nicer and more comfortable. Plus, they’re much more charming because they allow people to (literally) sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.
2. They’re a meditative experience and help you stay grounded in the present moment.
One of my favorite activities to do on the train is to listen to music. Once seated on the train with my headphones on and music playing, time becomes still. I suddenly feel like all my thoughts and worries dissipate into the background as I slip into a state of calmness. I ease into relaxation and close my eyes as feelings of euphoria overtake me.
These feelings are comparable to meditation for me. Similar to how yoga instructors tell their students to not think about anything and push away all intrusive thoughts, I can now clear my mind, let go of all expectations, and enjoy the present moment. I slip into a meditative trance as I watch the scenery change from one panel of the window to the next.
As an introvert who overthinks and struggles with anxiety, I find this entire experience very grounding: I am safely on a train that is heading toward my destination. No matter what I do, I will reach it. By embracing this level of certainty, I no longer feel anxious and worried about my next steps and interactions. I let my mind wonder and can fully let go. Sometimes, I even fall asleep. ‘
3. They promote creativity and a “train of thoughts.”
Train rides are the best times for creative thinking and reflection. I love sitting by the window — I enjoy watching the colors and landscapes change as shapes of trees, hills, and mountains form in the background. It feels like I am in a movie, waiting for the movie to change from one scene to the next.
From the inside, watching the world pass before me from the outside, I feel swept off my feet as feelings of nostalgia wash over me. Immediately, I can tune into my thoughts. With my pen to paper or phone notes out, I begin reflecting and writing down all my thoughts.
This is the perfect set-up for activites like journaling, writing, and reading. I am no longer in a rush, trying to beat the morning traffic in my car or pushing my way into the crowded bus as people shuffle in and out of the opening and closing doors. Instead, I am seated on the train, truly appreciating all the scenery before me and enjoying all the activites I can do.
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4. They provide you with plenty of alone time…
On trains, you can move around much more than on a plane or bus. If the person seated next to you is making too much small talk, you can just get up and walk from train car to train car or head to the sightseeing, cafe, or dining one. So you can get all the alone time you’d like — and need. Plus, those headphones I mentioned above come in handy here, too. And you can always “fake” a nap or start reading if someone sits down next to you and you really want to be left alone.
5. But they also allow you time to catch up with friends.
Compared to other modes of transportation, trains offer the best opportunity for catching up with friends. I enjoy the freedom of using my phone liberally, and showing my friends a meme or video without having to switch it on and off on Airplane Mode as I’d have to do on an airplane.
If my friends are with me on the train, I also enjoy rearranging our seats and so we can face each other as we engage in endless conversations and laughs. Coupled with the steadiness of the train ride, my friends and I are even able to play card games occasionally. Other times, we venture into the café section of Amtrak to buy some coffee and snacks before we resume our deep conversations.
On the train, it is so easy to lose track of time as my friends and I sit back on the comfortable train seats and dive into deep talk without any interruptions. In the Information Age, where we are overstimulated with information and surrounded by constant interruptions from our devices, this is a very rare opportunity where we can truly enjoy the present, as well as each others’ presence.