It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?
It have been so long since I traveled last time out of my city! I really miss being in that situation: sitting in my seat in an airplane with time ahead, a book in my hands and the perspective of a vacation far away.
So I have to imagine that an unknown traveler next to me won’t let me read because he or she wants to talk with me. What would I do? It depends on the subject of the chat. If the other person is too nosy and wants to know too much about me I would dismiss politely the conversation. I’m not inclined to talk about me to strangers. If there is a civilized conversation about, lets say, our destination or some cultural aspect of our trip or something similar I guess I would answer out of courtesy and probably I would enjoy the conversation. One never knows. Maybe the chatty person is a very interesting character or a funny person that can make you laugh.
Sometimes conversations during a trip are very useful. I remember during the Balkans War I had to go to Zagreb (Croatia) by train from Vienna (Austria) because there were no planes. The air space was closed. I was a young reporter unexperienced and I found in my compartment a seasoned correspondent from Sweden. We spent the whole trip talking about how to do our job. She told me about her difficulties and how she managed to make her reports and keep herself safe. I learned a lot from her in those few hours we were together.
In the trip back, I was almost the only one civilian in the train and I spent a lot of time talking with the staff, listening to their war stories.
First time I went to the States I was pretty lost. Alone, with a poor knowledge of the language, going to the unknown. My destination was St. Louis, Missouri. I found a girl in the plane very worried because of the floods of the Mississippi. She began to talk to me about her family farm and the floods. She immediately noticed I was a stranger and helped me when we arrived to the airport. I was so grateful!
I guess I’ve been lucky because I don’t remember being bothered by a nasty chatty traveler. I always found very nice people.