A soundtrack for travel

EarbudsThe best travel soundtrack is made of the distinct sounds of a place. A foghorn’s wail, the sizzle of cooking, a howler monkey’s roar, or an imam’s call to prayer—all can bring us back to a place as easily as seeing a photo. What about your playlists? Do they help conjure a moment on a trip just as easily?

I suppose it depends on whether you actually make playlists for your travels. When Andrew Evans was getting ready for his Bus2Antartica trip, he asked Intelligent Travel readers to make song suggestions for his playlist. Anthony Bourdain has written about how music can make a travel moment. NPR has even gotten into the game, with a list of 95 songs for driving on I-95.

My own playlists have, until recently, stuck to genres like funk, reggae and blues. But while listening to “…And I’m Out” by Galactic, I was inspired to create a list of travel-related songs for myself—to inspire me whether I’m working at home or looking out an airplane window. Sure, maybe I’m late to all this, but I never made mix tapes, so musical list making had to sneak up on me sometime.

Do you have one foolproof travel playlist, or do you make a new one for each trip you take or each country you visit? This week, while I’m planning a surf safari, I’m listening a lot to “Road Trippin’” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I think I’ll use it to inspire a new list.

What are your favorite travel tunes?

Posted by | Comments (9)  | August 27, 2010
Category: General, On The Road

9 Responses to “A soundtrack for travel”

  1. Yael Says:

    I love listening to country music while road tripping–Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings–as well as “classic” American music–Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, Woody Gutherie (ok, that one’s a little different, but you get the picture!) 🙂

  2. Silvia Says:

    Hmm, I don’t think I have one particular travel soundtrack, but during my trip to Peru, I listened to the Tomb Raider soundtrack nonstop. It made sense because I was exploring a ton of ruins and during one particular stretch of the Inca trail hike, I was hiking alone through dense jungle foliage that looked just like a scene from the movie. That probably makes me slightly geeky, but I was totally in the zone! 🙂

  3. Tom B. Says:

    I love traveling by train (currently doing so traveling around Europe – why anyone would fly on this continent I don’t know…) so my favorite travel song is “Just like this Train” by Joni Mitchell off Court and Spark, 1974.

  4. DJ Says:

    Whenever I am traveling I prefer a various mix of Trance music, most notably Armin Van Buuren’s A State Of Trance weekly radio broadcast that I download onto my ipod. It’s perfect for sitting on the beaches of the Gulf Coast of Florida, to the Autobahn in Germany, and a boat ride in Indonesia.

  5. Rebecca Says:

    I don’t know what it is about country music, but I agree ~ it’s the perfect accompaniment to asphalt rolling under my wheels.

    I’m continually fine-tuning my road trip mixes, but here are a few favorites:

    “Hit the Road and Go,” Johnny Cash

    “Excursions,” Tribe Called Quest

    “Devil in My Car,” B-52’s

    “Light Enough to Travel,” Be Good Tanyas

    “Travelin’ All Alone,” Billie Holiday

    “The Truck Song,” Lyle Lovett

    “White Line Blues,” Johnny Winter

    “Queen of the Highway,” the Doors

    “Caravan Girl,” Goldfrapp


  6. Rod Says:

    One of the great things about travel music is when someone else gives you some of theirs and you trade them some of yours. Back in the day, we did that with cassettes (old guy, yup) and then CD’s but now its hard to drop your music on someones iPod, and you just have to wait till you can upload their suggestions later. A Scottish guy turned me on to Warren Zevon in the Sinai Desert, and since then “Splendid Isolation” has become one of my favorite tunes. Anything by the Doors, Grateful Dead, or Talking Heads reminds me of the road.

  7. Ahi Says:

    I can’t remember what it used to be, but since the Into the Wild soundtrack came out I’ve listened to that a LOT. On repeat, for a few hours usually.

  8. Marc Says:

    I actually prefer to listen to talk radio when I’m on a road trip. It give the feel of conversation but can be tuned out when necessary.

  9. Ana Says:

    My latest “mental-soundtrack”:

    The recent album of “Doelinda”, a Portuguese group that recently recreated traditional sounds in new great songs. Take a look at the videoclip of “Um contra o outro”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxv9s3PTIzY

    (From the old album, “Fado Toninho”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0T43cfsASi0&feature=channel)