I was meeting with a friend yesterday and talking about audio tours like those by
Soundwalk, which covers several neighborhoods in New York and other places, and
I started to think about how important the ipod will be as a traveler’s device. The more I thought about it, the more I
realized how easily ipods could become a hugely important, nay, necessary, part of a vagabond’s travel gear.
The first and most obvious benefit is music. Being on the road (or a train or plane or boat) for a long period of
time, your quality of life is enhanced significantly if you have some portable music to while away the hours. Nothing
is quite so fine as staring out at the passing countryside with some Led Zeppelin pouring into your skull. And
while you think this may make you anti-social, what about bringing along a simple adaptor so that you can share the
experience with a fellow traveler? Or even a small pair of portable speakers so that you can share with the whole train
compartment? What a perfect way to make friends and show the world that Americans are generous, fun-loving folk (just
make sure your music selection doesn’t drive everyone crazy – i.e. try to keep the
ABBA to a minimum).
But beyond music, there is so much more audio content now available to enrich your travels. I am currently a
subscriber to audible.com, and regularly listen to Charlie Rose, Fresh Air and This
American Life, among others. In fact, lately my day has been brightened by Jon Stewart?s audiobook
America, which is one of the funniest things I?ve ever heard. I have found audiobooks to be an AMAZING way to pass
idle time. And what resource is more abundant to travelers than idle time? Of course, you cannot forget
podcasting. There will soon be an explosion of podcast
content available to listen to about every topic under the sun. Already companies like
Soundwalk are making travel guides for download that will become, I suspect, a
fantastic new way to experience a new city or country.
Add to this the ipod as a place to store personal information, contacts and to download your pictures, let alone
whatever else comes along and, I suspect, the ipod will become as important and necessary as your money belt and
individually-wrapped packs of Pepto-Bismol.