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Turn Off Your IPod: 41 Sounds You Can Miss While Traveling

by Carlo Alcos Feb 2, 2011
Music certainly has its place but, like all things in life, balance is key. Don’t miss out on the road.

I AM NO anti-iPod warrior. I’m not asking you to Kill Your iPod. I love mine. I love my music. And I will admit, sometimes I do get wrapped up in it a little too much. The other night I was walking home from the yoga studio, lost in my world of music, when I passed a lady standing on the corner. I barely noticed her look to me and say something. I took out an earphone. “Sorry?”

“Oh, I was just saying hi!”

“Oh, hi!”

I wonder how many hi’s and hello’s I’ve missed because of my iPod.

Don’t miss out

If it’s not hi’s and hello’s we’re missing out on, what else might we be? Sounds are an essential part of our travel experience. How much richer is it when you can hear waves crashing on a beach, instead of just watching them? I asked around the team and the Twitter community what their favourite sounds have been while traveling and living abroad. Here are their responses.

Ross Borden, Co-Founder

At the ski hill…

  • the squeaky bouncing sound of a chair lift tower over the dull roar of people ripping through powder below me

Julie Schwietert, Managing Editor

In Mexico City…

  • the sound of the tamale vendor circling the block at night, his speaker blaring “Ricos tamales oaxaquenos”
  • taxi and car horns
  • people protesting

In Havana…

  • the jingle bells on the horse’s halter as the guy who gives wagon rides circles my mother in law’s block each afternoon

In New York…

  • the sound of the subway rumbling into the station

Richard Stupert, Intern

In Uganda…

  • local artists being played out of a big sound system while waiting for a bus
  • on a bus in Kampala, a pastor got onto the bus before departure and said a prayer for all of us, that we might make it safely to Gulu. It was a little unnerving, but really gave the bus ride after that a sense of adventure

Morgan deBoer, Intern

In Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica…

  • the sound of no less than 10 dogs running behind me, (foot steps, panting) following me every time I walked down the trail in front of our hotel

In California…

  • during a Christmas Parade, the neighborhood woodie wagon car club drove by, a lot of the cars played the beach boys loudly on their radios and the woman next to me yelled at the cars not covered in Christmas lights, “It’s a night time parade! You need lights!”

Eileen Smith, Editor at Large

In New Zealand…

  • on the trail near Franz Josef glacier, I heard a kooky, uneven birdsong with trills and whistles and stops. I recorded it on my phone, over the sounds of a splashy creek. A day later, I ran into a group of ornithologists in the shared kitchen. They identified it as a tui, which I would never have known.

In Chile…

  • the pingapingapinga of the gas truck guy drumming on the gas tanks as they go down the street
  • the whistle of the knife-sharpening guy
  • the veggie vendor shouting “a mil a mil a mil las alcachofas” (1,000 for artichokes), and the guy who shouts “leche de burrrrrrrrra” (she-donkey milk) at the Vega (main market)

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