Music and Travel: How to NOT make friends on your trip.

Zephyr at Glenwood Springs.Music and travel go together better than peanut butter and jelly, Chuck Taylor’s and 501’s, Corona and the beach, etc. It’s a classic combination that young travelers are all familiar with. In 2013, how many young people will leave for vacation without headphones? Not many, to be sure. Listening to music while traveling is a great way to make the journey more bearable and even seem quicker… it’s also a great combo for not making any new friends!

First, let me go back to my second California Zephyr train ride where I met Dillon and heard about his adventures. The California Zephyr between Sacramento and Denver is a 30-hour-or-so train ride that affords scenic views and a dose of history that go perfectly with a solid playlist. On my second Zephyr trip, I spent my first day doing just that: soaking in the sights while bumping tunes. It was a relaxing ride but having already been on the route, simply sitting around and watching the mountains pass by wasn’t as fulfilling as the first time.

By contrast, the second day of the trip I spent my time in the observatory car shooting the shit with some of the other passengers and talking about our respective journeys. It was that second day that I heard about the self-sustaining farm in Hawaii, had a crash-course on the power of mushrooms and shared in a couple Sierra Nevada Pale Ales. The only difference between Day 1 and Day 2: I left my headphones in my bag on the second day.

Traveling with headphones stuffed in your ears is essentially a sign to other passengers that you do not want to talk. Sure, traveling is a rare opportunity to absorb a new album or whatever. There are plenty of albums in my iTunes that have only been listened to in their entirety whilst in transit. But if you’re eager to meet people and potentially network, why ostracize yourself with those noise¬†canceling¬†Beats?

Bumping tunes not only signals other passengers to your withdrawn nature, but it can even leave you feeling annoyed by them. We’ve all been there before: you’re listening to one of your favorite songs really loud and someone starts trying to talk to you. I can’t be the only one who gets extremely annoyed by people trying to talk to my while I’m in the (Cudi) zone.Zephyr at Grand Junction

It all really comes down to what you want from your journey and the method of your travel. For example, how do you feel about starting conversation on an airplane? I’ve done it before but most fliers aren’t keen on it. Anyway, the majority of my time in the air I’m doing whatever I can to stay calm and keep my mind off of falling out of the sky, i.e. having an in-flight cocktail and trying to pass out. The trips that have been my favorite in the last few months have been the ones where I’ve interacted with other passengers, by far.

So next time you have to make a trip, I’d like to challenge you to try making at least one leg of it without the headphones and instead try to talk to someone new. You may be amazed by what they have to say.

Author: Eric White

Eric graduated Ohio University in 2012 with a degree in Advertising and immediately went out to San Diego, California to start not using his degree. At the start of 2013, Eric quit his job, let his lease run out and started backpacking North America. Eric has worked with Amtrak, Crowdtap, HootSuite and others, and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA... when not on the road.

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