Music has always been a massive part of my life. I’ve always associated particular periods in my life with what I was listening to at the time, which is why I find the medium so incredibly powerful. When I listen to James Taylor, I time travel back to my childhood. When I listen to Elliot Smith, Bright Eyes or Rilo Kiley, I cringe at the thought of how angsty I was in my early high school years. Feist, Joni Mitchell and Regina Spektor have all been on repeat during my most transformative stages and Phish has pretty much remained a constant since I was a child.
All of these artists, all of these songs, all of these memories in my life hold special connections which is what makes music so magical. So what happens to a music lover who happens to be traveling the globe and meeting a variety of new faces and partaking in new experiences on a regular basis? They hold on to those memories through music, of course!
I was lucky to connect with some amazing fellow travel bloggers who feel just as passionately about music as I do. Below, these amazing women have reminisced on some of their favorite travel moments and how music has impacted them, inspired them and shaped their memories. Each of their memories are incredibly special and their musical flavors even more unique. Together we’ve created the ultimate travel playlist.
Erica at Girl, Unspotted is definitely an inspiration. She’s been on a variety of exciting and unique adventures – most recently as a sea princess for a day at the Mermaid Academy in Boracay. How cool is that?! Erica listens to this song quite frequently as she says it brings her freedom.
“A song that describes a girl’s adventure in a 2nd person point of view, Drops of Jupiter by Train never fails to give me a little smile every time I hear it. I listened to this song almost everyday while staring out the window of the bus as I cross borders all over South East Asia on my own.
It’s not only inspiring, but it’s a song that reminds me why I chose to brave the unknown. Every metaphor in the song perfectly describes what happens when you choose to leave everything you’re accustomed to in hopes of expanding your horizon through travels. Sailing across the sun, tracing my way through the constellation, and heading back to Milky Way somehow brings me back to my own little ventures with no plans in hand. The lyrics is definitely something any traveler can relate to, especially how it implies that once you come back home, you will be a different person—you learn new things, your perspective changes, and you grow.”
Have you ever experienced that feeling of unrequited love? This situation is all too familiar for nomadic souls. Alexa at She Tells Travel Tales fell for a fellow American during an unforgettable getaway in Portugal. She weaved the whimsical story into a beautiful memory along with this tune, as it was playing before she hopped on a plane to Amsterdam.
“I told him to take me to the beach, and he did. It was on the Atlantic Ocean on the southern coast of Portugal, where we walked barefoot and shared an ice cream cone. He wrapped his arms around me on the rocks while the waves crashed at our feet. We sat on the sand and watched the sun sink into the sea. We lied to our friends who asked where we were, sneaking away for just a little longer to be together.
We’d known each other for just a few days and woops, I was half falling in love with a handsome charmer from Boston. In Portugal. We’d met when I came to visit my friend, his roommate, on my stop in Portugal while traveling around Europe. I knew nothing about him except I loved the way he made me laugh. The way we talked for hours. The way he looked at me.
I left a few days later, off to Amsterdam. Then Munich, then Prague. I hugged him goodbye with a heavy heart and tried not to look back as the car pulled away from the airport.
This song, was playing in my earphones as I boarded the plane and it struck a chord with me. The summer, beachy beats and lyrics, “I will remember your face, cause I am still in love with that place,” summed up my week in Portugal perfectly. I would always remember his face, that place, that week.
I listened to the song countless times on the rest of my trip, filling my journal with poems and entries of my dreamy week in Portugal and the guy who came out of nowhere and left an ice cream kiss on my heart.”
Alexa is currently living the nomadic lifestyle in Thailand. To live vicariously through Alexa’s travels, be sure to check her beautiful photos out on Instagram!
Gemma is half of the lovely duo at Two Scots Abroad. The two are currently taking an 18-month hiatus from their jobs and traveling the Americas and Europe. They kicked off their journey with the infamous SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas and have seen some of the best music festivals the world has to offer. While this particular song is not something she would typically listen to, Gemma says it brings back an extremely fond memory.
“Riptide by Vance Joy is a song that makes me go, ‘Awwww’ whenever I hear it because it takes me back to the Canadian Rockies tour with West Trek Tours. The company had set up a sing-along on the bus and Riptide was one of the tunes. We all belted it out in unison using the song sheet, and the lyrics always make me laugh when he says, ‘I got a lump in my throat ’cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong’ because that was all of us! The trip was one of the best weekends of my life – driving through mountains, swimming in lakes, and partying with 52 new friends!”
When I first heard this song during it’s hayday in 2012, I had no idea I would eventually find myself living in Seoul’s ritzy Gangnam neighborhood. Funny how life works out like that, huh? Samantha over at There She Goes Again will always look back on this song fondly. As a devoted K-Pop fan, this fellow expat in Korea urged her friends to listen to the song, but her attempts were unsuccessful. It wasn’t until the song went internationally viral that her friends started to understand why she liked the song.
“Surprisingly, this song serves two purposes: reminding me of my summer semester in Seoul after my first year of university and my fall semester abroad in Madrid during my third year. I was interested in Korean music way back before this song went viral, so I knew about it when it first came out. It reminded me of all the different K-Pop related adventures I had in Seoul (like making my way through a monsoon to see G-Dragon in person, getting to see a live music show at Inkigayo, or just-missing seeing my favorite idol in person because of finals), and how badly I was trying to get kids at my small college to give K-Pop songs a chance.
The ironic part is that this song went viral the semester I went abroad, so I was getting these random Facebook posts and tweets about the song from people who didn’t even know what “Gangnam” was. Of course, it reached Madrid by the end of my semester, so guess what awkward dancer suddenly became the center of the crowd for roughly 3 minutes? I’ve never had so much fun horse dancing in my life than in the middle of Madrid’s Discoteca Palace at 4 in the morning on a Thursday night!”
Does anyone else have that one album they can turn to for just about anything? Megan of Beat, Broke, Backpacking prefers Lord Huron’s Strange Trails as the soundtrack for her adventures. This Pennsylvania-native and Austin, Texas-local discovered her love for this whimsical, earthy album during a three-month backpacking journey throughout Europe. Hard to pin down one specific song, Megan said each song tells its own story, all of which speak to her for various reasons.
“If I were to choose just one album to listen to on a train ride, long hike, or camping trip, I would choose Lord Huron’s Strange Trails. Lord Huron is an indie Americana band and the creation of Michigan native Ben Schneider; Schneider and his band of brothers are just the crew who, upon first glance, can immediately be trusted with building a campfire and identifying constellations.
Strange Trails, however, tells a story beyond a night under the stars – it’s the adventure of a lifetime, chasing love across the globe. Traveling is exciting and awe-inspiring, but can often be strenuous and tiring. I kept Strange Trails on repeat during a three-month backpacking trip in Europe.
I often listened to the album from start to finish, since it has a song for every mood and every chapter of a classic adventure novel. ‘Hurricane (Johnnie’s Theme)’ sets the scene for a new romance on a summer day, ‘Fool for Love’ played in the background while I packed my bag and highlighting hikes on a map, ‘The World Ender’ is a bad- ass anthem for seeking revenge, and ‘The Night We Met’ is a homesick blow to the heart. The igniting passion of the music fueled the determination I needed to keep exploring; the tales of romance and heartaches reminded me of why I began traveling in the first place.”
If you’re interested in budget-friendly traveling, be sure to check out Megan on Facebook!
We all know that one person who can’t pinpoint their favorite musical artist because their taste is just that eclectic. Holli of The Beauty of Wandering is definitely that friend. This British beaut fell in love with Frank Ocean’s coming-of-age album Channel Orange while traveling solo through Europe. Though she was listening to a variety of artists, this album spoke to her and made her feel extremely grateful to be on the road.
“Music has been a huge part of my life ever since I can remember. I took musical instrument lessons, singing lessons and was even in a (very amateur) punk bang in high school! My iPod and more recently my iPhone have always been filled with hundreds of different artists, songs and genres, providing me with some amazing playlists for my travels around the world.
A couple of years ago after I graduated university I went on a solo trip to Europe for a few weeks; travelling through Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Bosnia and Croatia to name a few! It was the best trip I’ve ever been on; made so special by the fact I did it by myself. Because I was travelling alone I made sure all my Spotify playlists were updated and available offline, ready for hours of travelling and hanging out by myself, which as most solo travellers will know doesn’t happen often as there are always friends to be made whilst travelling alone!
My music taste is extremely varied and my playlists included songs such as Blurred Lines by Robin Thick, ASAP Rocky, MIA, ACDC, Katy Perry, Fleetwood Mac… You get the picture. But the one album I remember playing repeatedly over and over again was Channel Orange by Frank Ocean, he has such a varied style of music so there was always something to fit my mood, but generally he’s just a really powerful, feel good artist, the perfect soundtrack to my solo trip. One of my most vivid memories of the whole trip is being sat on a train heading through incredible Austrian scenery, hills, lakes, rivers, mountains, picturesque towns and gorgeous weather, Frank Ocean playing in my earphones and just thinking to myself, ‘I really am the luckiest girl alive.’”
Katie, also known as The Hostel Girl, is the epitome of a free spirit. Katie has been bebopping around the globe, happily meeting new faces and exploring new places for years. While she has a vast collection of memories tied to music, her favorite one is a goofy yet enlightening one she had sitting passenger in a cab in Morocco.
“Getting a taxi in Morocco can be an awkward affair. First you have to argue about the price and then they fit six people in a car which is often… intimate. But one evening on the way back from a full day of hiking and laughing at the Ourika Falls near Marrakech, not only were offered a taxi for a great price, but then the Moroccan driver began playing country music! As a big country music fan, it seemed so surreal to me to hear Kenny Roger’s ‘The Gambler’ blasting from his CD drive. Especially when the taxi driver began singing along, despite barely being able to hold a conversation in English. The friends I was with, the random strangers in the collective taxi, and the driver and I all burst out giggling when the song finished and he put it on repeat. We entered Marrakech shouting lyrics that have meant the world to me as a traveller.
There is a line in the chorus, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run”, which I think are words to live by when you travel solo. Being exposed to so many incredible people and experiences on the road is something you often want to hold on to forever. But each of us eventually move on, and this song reminds me that handing in your cards at the right time isn’t such a bad thing.”
8. Taro – Alt-J
This dreamy tune reminds Iris of The Sea is My Cup of Tea of when she first met her travel partner and lover. Despite the fact that the two met by chance six weeks before she was to take off on the trip of a lifetime, she followed her gut and continued with her initial plans. She holds this song near and dear to her heart as it brings back happy memories of the beginning of their love.
“In December 2014, I was just planning my first far away trip to Nepal and India. In the middle of that process, I met an amazing guy. But, I was not going to cancel my travel plans because of that. This meant we had to miss each other for seven months after knowing each other for only six weeks.
The song we always listened to during our time together was ‘ Taro’ by Alt-J. The evening before I left, we went to a concert of Alt-J in Amsterdam. It was amazing (I couldn’t help but shed a tear when they played ‘Taro’) but so bittersweet to say goodbye after that. While travelling in Nepal, working on an eco-farm, living in a monastery, trekking in the Himalayas and working in a yoga- and surf retreat in South India, I listened to ‘Taro’. A lot. It gives me the feeling of travelling and being free, but at the same time it can also hit me and remind me of the intense last night before I left!
For anyone who wants to know: we’re together for almost a year now and travelling in Sri Lanka!”
Iris’ Instagram is filled with lovely photos of healthy living, yoga inspiration and breathtaking scenery. Check her page out!
For me, the thought of doing burlesque is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. In fact, I think a lot of women would be terrified at the thought of walking out onto a stage in sexily scandalous attire for a room full of strangers to see. Not the insanely badass Alice of Teacake Travels! She unexpectedly found her inner sex kitten whilst living in Shanghai and attributes this upbeat and quirky beat to a memory where she felt empowered and decided to allow herself to be more vulnerable.
“By stepping out of your door and embracing the world around you, you’ll end up in the strangest of places but essentially the most rewarding. Amidst the chaos of Shanghai, where I was teaching English for a while and struggling to come to terms with the lack of culture and plentiful buckets of air pollution, I found burlesque. A shy British tea-drinking ‘cutie’ who struggled to express her ‘sexy’ side, a chance meeting at festival in a basement took me to places I never thought possible.
I went from a girl hiking crazy ass mountains, covered in a mud on a motorbike to an elegant, seductive vixen. Fast forward two months later and as an advocate for strong-minded, independent and self-loving chicks everywhere, this track belted out in my first ever burlesque performance on stage and represents my philosophy of travel. Girl, you are so goddamn powerful you don’t even know what you’re capable of. You have seriously electric goddess energy within you. Don’t shy away from it. Embrace it. Show it. I’m constantly trying to test and push myself through the opportunities travel has presented to me and I feel amazing for it! Find what empowers you and grab it by the balls!”
Alice has great tips and advice for those interested in teaching English in Asia. She’s taught in Korea, China, Vietnam and Thailand, where she currently resides. If you’re interested in following a solo female traveling goddess, I advise you check out her blog or her numerous social media channels immediately. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. You can thank me later.
Michelle of Day Job Optional and I certainly have one thing in common: we both share a deep appreciation of all things Peruvian. Chicha, a classic Peruvian genre which combines local folklore and South American beats with the likes of electric guitars and synthesizers is certainly one element that will always be embedded in her memory when she looks back on her time spent in the gorgeous country.
“This is a remix of a vintage chicha track (Peruvian cumbia from the Amazon) by a duo of Peruvian electro DJs that have been emerging as part of the new wave of chicha’s comeback (bands like Bareto have brought back classic chicha tracks and made them popular again for the young generation). I saw the DJs, Dengue Dengue Dengue in NYC right after my trip to Peru in 2013. The trip was life-changing and incredible, spanning almost a month. I traveled from Arequipa to Cuzco, Cuzco back to Arequipa, and finally to Lima where I got VIP access to Bareto’s concert at the famous venue Sargento Pimienta.
The experience will stay with me forever. I used this song as the track to edit over my video of the trip, which features clips from each city (as well as a wild party I hosted in Bogota on my way there!) When I hear this song, it brings me right back to the epic contours of Pacha Mama in the Andes and the unbelievable picanterias of Arequipa on sunny afternoons… not to mention the nightlife in Lima and walking to and from the bars and clubs in the thick fog under neon lights.”
To have a closer look at Michelle’s trip, be sure to check out the video she made featuring this rhythmic song:
Michelle runs her blog with its co-founder K. The two of them have such a unique vibe which is certainly showcased on their blog. Check them out on any or all of their social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest
Have you ever met someone who doesn’t know almost – if not all – the lyrics to this song? Ilana, also known as The Geeky Traveler, holds one of her fondest travel memories to the British-born classic. While participating in a well-known Pub Crawl in London, Ilana found herself immediately bonding with friends and strangers as soon as one of the fellow bar patrons busted out this tune.
“Though I would hardly call it the most successful trip I’ve ever been on, I very proudly speak to my first trip to London (which totaled to approximately 72 hours in the most incredible city) frequently. It was the very first trip I had ever booked alone to visit a friend of mine who was studying abroad, and the trip marked the start of my semi-impulsive flight-purchasing habit.
Wonderwall was covered by the leader of the Camden Pub Crawl, a ticketed bar crawl through London’s Camden Town that my friend absolutely swore was not to be missed. It was the first bar of the event; a little bar with a lineup of live musicians. The bar crawl leader kind of just took the mic. I vividly remember standing in the bar, next to my friends and groups of people from all over the world, singing along once we figured out what song he was covering. It was so incredible freeing and rewarding even to just be there. Nothing filled me with pride more than knowing I had gotten myself to another country on my own to see a friend I missed so terribly, and whenever I hear Wonderwall, that incredible pride and impulse to buy a flight returns!”
Ilana is currently living in and exploring New York City and dreaming of her next adventure! Check her out on Twitter!
Mimi of The Atlas Heart looks back on Ben Howard’s lovely tune as a song that gave her strength and willingness to accept the unknown. Trusting in the universe can be challenging at times, but this song gave Mimi hope that she was making the right decision before temporarily relocating to the Land Down Under.
“I turned on my iPod and put on a new album I had just downloaded that day. The sound of the rain filled my eardrums as I took off on an aimless walk that would last an hour, my feet ending at the beating waves of the ocean.
I was in San Diego, nearing the end of my time in the states and almost to a new chapter in my life – my move across the world to Australia. But even though I was sure of my choices, I was conflicted at the same time. I was leaving behind an on-and-off relationship that still meant the world to me, even though I knew it was meant to come to an end.
I set out that day with no destination, just my endless thoughts, a fear that I was making the biggest mistake of my life by leaving this life behind. But as the rain evaporated in my ears and the guitar confidently came into the song, I felt a calmness. Ben Howard’s voice took me from sidewalks, to grand views, and finally to a bench with the breeze of the salty air in my hair.
I ended up loving his whole album, but his song “Promise” stuck with me. I had it on repeat for that walk. I held onto every lyric and soothing strum, as if I wasn’t quite ready for it to be over yet. When I finally sat down at that bench, the words from the song echoed, “And meet me there, bundles of flowers, we wait through the hours of cold.”
I knew in that moment that I was going to be fine. Whatever came after this, it was meant to be and I accepted that harmony with open arms. I continued to listen to that album constantly for the next 6 months and that song especially. I still love it because it reminds me of new beginnings, travel, and not forgetting those we loved but honoring them by finding happiness and peace.”
Kirstie of Venga, Vale, Vamos has a particularly interesting story behind her song of choice. Kirstie first heard this song prior to participating in a life-changing study abroad program. Just listening to the music brings back warm memories of her first solo experience abroad. Who knew that this one song could inspire her for the rest of her life?
“My first experience with independent travel when I was 17 and had the opportunity to spend a month studying in Granada, Spain. Prior to the trip, I watched a video about the program that featured this song. I immediately became hooked, playing it over and over during the months leading up to the trip and fantasizing about how spectacular my time in Granada would be. The song was still a big hit by the time I arrived in Spain, cementing it even further in my memory.
Despite all the hype, the trip turned out to be even more amazing than I imagined. Hearing the song (as well as other great Spanish language pop from that era) inevitably takes me back to the innocence and wonder of being overseas at 17. It reminds me of the month that I really learned what it meant to travel and experience other cultures. I realized just how limitless the world is and how much I had left to explore. The month completely changed my life by leading me to spend three more years living in Spain and to continue exploring the world by living abroad in Australia and traveling to 45 countries and counting.”
Kirstie is currently living in Sydney, Australia, and loving life! She writes extensively about traveling throughout Spain, Australia as well as countries such as Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania. Pretty cool! Check this gal out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!
If there is one song that I could listen to once a day for the rest of my life, this would be it. This song speaks to me in moments of joy, sadness, anger and even loneliness. I’ve always been a massive fan of Bela Fleck, whether it’s been with his main band, The Flecktones, or his incredible African Project (both of which I’ve been granted the opportunity to see live.) His music just honestly gives me life and sends me to a state of bliss.
This song holds significant power to almost all of my happiest travel memories. From an epic road trip throughout Colorado with some of my greatest friends to walking through Seoul’s Incheon Airport for the first time ever, this song is my go-to when I want to feel inspired and carefree. Of all the memories, my favorite one has to be when I was heading toward the mountain town of Aguas Calientes in Peru.
This was my first experience by myself outside of the USA and I felt so grateful and also so very small. Looking up at the mountains, I felt humbled and instantaneously connected to our planet, which is a feeling I have yet to shake since my time in Peru.
So there you have it! The ultimate travel playlist. What are your thoughts? Do you have a certain song that plays in the background of your favorite memories?