When on a road trip it can be tiring to have to chat or talk the entire trip. I find long discussions draining and prefer to listen to music. It can also be distracting when you're driving.

I was listening to a song the other day and the passenger1 got upset when I said I didn't feel like talking and wanted to listen to the song. "Well you don't want to hear what I have to say," which creates tension and further deteriorates the trip.

What's a good strategy to handle not wanting to talk much during a road trip?

1. A relative of mine

  • How many people were in the car? Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 19:14
  • @AzorAhai two people. Myself and one passenger
    – user57
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 23:19

6 Answers 6


Road trips are awesome fun. I am also very much the introvert on road trips and love the solid blocks of "zone-out" time.

This sounds like the type of situation that is just a preference. It is something that each of you can easily decide to do or not do during this trip without changing your whole life. It isn't like being forced to travel with a person who drives dangerously or who won't wear deodorant or who constantly tells stories about how great the other political party is, so neither of you is likely to be insulted or offended by the mention of the issue ... if you communicate ahead of time.

Direct is best for those types: The most direct way to deal with this situation is to talk about it clearly ahead of time. Explain how you feel then ask the other person how they feel. Then compromise and be a thoughtful person. It sounds like a very common introvert vs. extrovert situation:

"While I enjoy spending the time on trips catching up and getting to know you better, I also taking time on road trips to zone out to some music and just meditate quietly on my life. So if you see my grab my headphones during a part of the drive, don't take it as something about you or your conversation. This is just how I recharge, look over how my life is going, and think about the future. It is a great time for me to get my thoughts together so I can be more present during the times when we are talking."

Eh, something like that. And as a hint, the start of a road trip and when some interesting landmark or cool situation is coming up are the times when chatty people are most likely to seek and enjoy the conversation. Start off the first bit of the trip talking and catching up, then take some zone-out time for a stretch.

As you approach a stop or landmark, take off the headphones and strike up a conversation about it. The other person will love you for it ... not having to be the one starting all of the conversations after you just told them about how you like to zone out ... that is a thoughtful thing and they will appreciate it.

When the other person knows how you feel ... and sees that you are respecting how they feel by taking some non-headphone time ... it will smooth things out.

Happy trails!

And since you didn't mention if this is a friend or relationship partner, here is the "relationship partner" answer:

If this is your relationship partner, it is even way more important that this works out. Being able to communicate about these things clearly and find a solution together instead of going into the typical "fix it myself mode" is one of the keys to a great relationship and a habit to start early.

Also, if this is your partner, then this isn't a "just a preference" situation that I described at the start. This is the chance to show that you value their thoughts and want to share ideas and plans. If you ignore those, you will leave a mental "crack in the windshield" of your relationship that is hard to fix.

Just my 2 cents...


Your problem

I think one of your big issues here is a clash of expectations. Your friend likely envisioned the trip as a fun hangout where you would talk with each other to pass the time quickly while you clearly thought differently. In my experience, attempting to deal with this kind of expectation mismatch as it's happening can end in arguments and no one being happy.

A solution

The best way I've found to deal with this is to be straightforward and set the expectations before the event. A few days before the drive (or even better--when you're planning it!) bring up your preference with your friend:

So I know some people like to talk during the drive to pass the time, but I really prefer to listen to music and enjoy the views. I'm not saying we have to play the silent game, but I probably won't want to engage in conversation the whole time. Is that alright?

This way, what ever disagreement you had in the car when this happened to you, you can have way before you're in the situation when both of you are levelheaded and no one feels like their expectations are betrayed.

A word of caution though: what you're asking for may not be alright. Be prepared for your friend to insist that without a conversation, they won't want to be in the car that long. At that point you need to decide if it's worth talking more to keep your trip--but at least you'll both go in fully prepared!


Since you are driving, it's already enough to be a reason not to talk during the trip - safety reason

Usually I find one good way of rejecting request and not resulted in a tension situation, is to somehow make the "faults" on yourself. This is not to say to be harsh or degrade yourself. It is somehow telling people that you acknowledge your "weakness" and you are doing something about it. - You may think it of like when answering an interview question of "What is your strength and weakness?".

This way is indirectly rejecting people by not letting them feel bad or rejected.

Ah guys, I am so sorry but as I am getting a bit of tired, I need to focus on the driving. Don't forget that your lives are at my mercy...!! The music will do good by keeping me in focus~ You guys go ahead with the conversation, and I will try to join in now and then, if I could!

If upon hearing you are tired and they decided to help by driving instead... then you may gladly swap role, and adapt to @TheRealLester's suggestion by going to sleep.

Thanks, Friend A! Now I shall take a quick nap...!

Yes, this may backfired as after the nap, it is assume that you should be able to resume the chit-chatting while driving. You may counter it may giving more excuses such that you are still feeling tired, but it should be fine for you to focusing on the road with the music on.

Putting this scenario on me, and knowing myself, and especially when in a driving situation, I am not good at multi-tasking at all. So if you were like me, probably it can be something like this:

Ah... as much as I would like to have a conversation with you on this long and dull route, but I am really bad at multi-tasking and won't be able to drive and talk at the same time. And I surely won't want to have any accident to happen on us...! So, let me be your chauffeur~ Sit back, relax and enjoy the music!


For Passengers

Fake sleeping is a go-to option for me when I'm stuck in the car with people for an extended period of time. Just announce that you are not going to be as responsive as usual

"I'm going to try to sleep and listen to music for most of the trip because I'm tired"

and put in some headphones and close your eyes. I find "sleeping" works well (for me at least) as nobody really wants to disturb someone while they're trying to rest.

For Drivers

Reference the music you want to listen to and ask their opinion. It gets them to stop talking and start listening to the music, with some relevant conversation after. For maximum benefit, put on a long album or playlist.

Another good point brought up by Jesse's comment is to listen to a podcast because it is easier to actively listen while a story is being told, and it cuts down on chatter because the other passengers will be listening as well.


Already a lot of good answers here, but I thought I'll add my personal strategy to not upset people, while communicating your preferences: Dress it up as a compliment. For example; you have such a good connection to your companion, which actually allows you two to be silent.

In a simple two step approach:

  1. State your preference to not talk.
  2. Turn it into something positive and not about your lack of interest in the other person.

Example phrasing:

You surely already observed, that I'm more off an introvert person don't you?

I don't like to talk all the time - to be honest most times I prefer a little bit of silence while on a road trip, but that often feels somewhat awkward, too. You surely know what I'm talking about? I must say, I'm glad we get along together that well, that it doesn't feel awkward with you. I don't have that with a lot of people.

As with all IPS answers - your mileage will vary - but the above approach always worked for me in the past.


If they wont let you just listen to music and you feel you have to talk here's a good bit of advice I read on another thread on here recently, to quote: "He who asks the question controls the conversation." If you cant get out of talking to them ask them questions so they have to do most of the talking and you can just sort of zone out while they drone on, then you feed with little follow up questions. Eventually they'll be all talked out and feel like they want a break themselves. Another approach would be to get an audio CD of a classic comedy series or something like that to listen to so you can have a laugh and that will take the focus off of you not talking. Another approach would be to play "I spy with my little eye" and then choose something obscure so they give up in a huff. :)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.