I am totally not a crowd person. I get antsy very quickly in crowds of people. Travel is great and going to see the big sites usually means big crowds. Ali and I are both introverts, so being around so many people all trying to get in our way and in our picture can really dampen a nice day sightseeing. Here are some of the ways I go about dealing with it.
1) Travel off-season. Go when the hordes have thinned.
This is nice from a price point of view as well, though the downfall is not always optimal weather. I have been to the beach in March. It is not nearly as fun as in summer, but there was really no one around.
2) Go at different times.
Even if you can’t avoid the times of year, sometimes early morning or later afternoon are less crowded. Just beware, sometimes they are less crowded for a reason. Pay attention to closing and opening times.
Check to see if there are tours or other options to get in before or after the crowds. Also check to see the last time you can get a ticket into the place. Sometimes getting one of the last tickets of the day can help if the tour groups are gone back to their cruise ships.
3) Take a break.
If you do have to be in a crowded place, you don’t have to spend 100% of your time in the masses. Explore down a side alley for a while away from all the hustle.
For me this includes stopping at a cafe. Even just the bubble of space around me of a chair helps.
4) Suck it up.
There are definitely things that should be seen that are crowded. A lot of popular places are just crowded and there is little you can do about it. We went on a specific tour of the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel without crowds. Only part of the tour was crowd-lite and the rest was amidst a horde. The Vatican just IS crowded, so you have to suck it up to see it most of the time.
5) Rest up before and after.
If you do choose to “suck it up” and go, give yourself some time afterwards to do more calm things if you need it.
I am mostly overwhelmed by loud, so I seek out the quiet coffee shops and libraries cafe’s to sit and read to recharge my crowd batteries. This tip also refers to not doing too many “crowd days” in a row. If you have a big day on Tuesday, try for something low key on Wednesday. Another aspect of Slow Traveling is making sure you have the time on your trip to do this.
6) Not all crowds are created equal.
Venice was crowded and chaotic at Carnevale time. Tomatina near Valencia was a madhouse which shredded nerves. Markets in Istanbul was crowded and chaotic but not the same kind of thing to me.
So take stock of what kind of crowd it is and what you need to do to deal with it.
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The tourist hordes seem to grow every year. Big events get bigger and draw more people, which might be great for the organizers but is a headache for all those people. Even still it is not worth letting such things dampen an urge to travel.