The sound of silence: 5 reasons to leave the iPod at home

When I suggest to people that they don’t bring their iPod on a long trip, they often react as if I’ve told them not to bring any underwear. But it’s a perfectly sane suggestion, even for the tech-savvy, music-loving vagabond. Here’s five reasons why:

1. Start Conversations. When people in, say, Nepal see you listening to an iPod, here’s what they might actually see: A person who really doesn’t want to talk to them. In my view, it’s already awkward and difficult enough to start conversations with complete strangers without the iPod. Listening to an iPod at a restaurant while eating alone, for example, just discourages conversation further.

2. If you don’t bring it, it can’t get stolen. This, sadly, I know from experience.

3. Do more reading. If I’m carrying both an iPod and a book, and I’m stuck on a long bus ride, chances are I’ll usually reach for the iPod. I suspect I’m not alone in that regard either. On my last trip, by eliminating the option of listening to music, I read more than I ever have, and became a lot more smarter as a result!

4. Bridge the gap. The gap between relatively wealthy backpackers and their third-world hosts is impossible to bridge completely. Even if you go to Jamaica and grow dreadlocks. But one thing that widens the gap even further is when travelers display their fancy gadgets like iPods. What might seem to the traveler to be an innocent hour listening to music might appear to someone else like an ostentatious display of wealth.

5. Most places already have a built-in soundtrack. Bangkok isn’t Bangkok without its distinct sounds. This holds true for most cities, and rural areas as well. Honking horns, screeching tires, the white noise of people chattering in a foreign language– failing to experience these is failing to experience a place at all.

For more on the joys of traveling “unplugged,” check out this recent article on Brave New Traveler.

Posted by | Comments (11)  | March 28, 2008
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

11 Responses to “The sound of silence: 5 reasons to leave the iPod at home”

  1. mchammer Says:

    The iPhone is definitely the best cell phone I’ve over owned, really happy I got it!

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