Life

Traveler Influencers Tell Us Their Favorite Songs To Listen To On The Road

Music drives us. It swings us from one emotional state to another. It helps us feel fully alive. A great song can help us savor the scenery, get hyped to party, or settle into a state of deep relaxation. Music is magic, in that sense.

We all have songs we listen to to get hyped to hit the road while we’re packing. We have the songs we listen to as we roll towards an airport or train station. We have those songs that lull us to sleep as we bounce along the open road. We have the songs that make us homesick. And, finally, we have those songs we listen to when we get home that remind us of all the fun we had roaming the wild world.

In short, music and travel are inexorably intertwined.

We reached out to some of our favorite vagabonds — people spending their lives on the road right this instant — to tell us the songs they listen to when they’re traveling. These are the tunes that get them hyped to see a new place and build excitement for the unknown. The songs that come to define their adventures.

MEG KEE (megkkee) — ENTITY by Tora feat. Merryn Jeann

I have a number of songs I love to listen to when I travel. One song lately I have played the most is a song by Tora called Entity. The reason I love this song so much is the singers create music with their voices. The song has a genuine soulfulness to it. Kind of like when you’re humming to a song, but this song creates a depth to which is fun and playful.

It puts me in a good mood no matter where I am. The beat switches up and gives a unique quality that goes smoothly with different moods.

ANDREW GUNADIE (gunnarolla) — WALTZ IN D-FLAT MAJOR, OP. 64, NO. 1 by Frédéric Chopin

This is going to be very nerdy of me, but I’d have to go with Chopin’s Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1, aka “Minute Waltz”. It’s a classical piano piece that evokes a lot of the frenzy and excitement that comes with being in a new destination, while simultaneously bringing a sense of calm. It makes me feel classy! I could be staying in a two-star hostel, but listening to this piece, I’d feel like I was in the lobby of a five-star hotel.

It’s complex. It gets your brain going. It helps you focus. It’s just a really beautiful, stimulating piece of music.

SOHEILA HAKIMI (isthatsoh) — GET DOWN SATURDAY NIGHT by Oliver Cheatham

This is such a hard question for me to answer because it honestly changes every time I travel. I love learning about new music and new-to-me music and often I’ll be so into a song that I’ll play it so often while away that it essentially becomes my trip theme song. Following the trip, every time I play that song it inevitably brings on flashbacks of amazing memories, dance parties, nights out drinking, and cool people that I met. That being said, my ‘theme song’ for my recent trip to Lisbon, Portugal was Get Down Saturday Night by Oliver Cheatham.

It’s a fun, R&B disco track that has an easy chorus you really can’t help but sing along to. It also has a wicked bass instrumental forty seconds in that’ll make you feel like the world is your catwalk. The song is so upbeat overall that it’ll pump your brain full of serotonin and get you excited for whatever the day and night brings. I honestly love this song … as a matter of fact, I think I’ll put it on right now.

KARL WATSON (karlwatsondocs) — SNAKE BLOOD by Leftield

Picking a song from The Beach soundtrack might seem like a tediously obvious choice. However, I’m not talking about Porcelain by Moby or Pure Shores by All Saints (although both great tunes).

I’m talking about the first song on the soundtrack and the opening of the film: Snake Blood by Leftfield.

Put this track on and suddenly I feel ready and set for an adventure. It might be hard. It might be challenging. It might be crazy. There might be culture shocks. I don’t even know who I’m going to meet — but, listening to this track and I’m, like, “Bring it on! Let the adventure begin.”

ERIN ROSE BELAIR (roseblacque) — COUNTRY LOVE SONG by Sam Outlaw

Country Love Song is the perfect in transit song for me, both physically and in my heart. I made a big move once — drove across the country and listened to it the whole way on repeat. So, now, when I’m going somewhere new, I’ll put this on to tell myself it’s time to get moving. It sort of gets me ready for the unknown of my trip and the need to rely on my own wits and intuition.

I’ve watched countless landscapes move and change and sweep past me while this song plays. I’ve sat in bars alone and listened. I’ve cried on rivers and laughed with friends. After all these years, it’s more than just a song now, it’s a whole mood, a whole state of mind. It’s funny because it’s not really a happy song. It’s more about being away and not being able to really share it with the person you love… which is sort of beautiful, I think.

CAMERON LEE (thecameronlee) — LOVE by Lana Del Rey

I know this might be a bit off from everyone else’s song, but my go-to travel song I listen to whenever I’m in a new place is Lana Del Rey’s Love from her Lust for Life album. Lyrically, it really resonated with me as the song touches on this generation’s sense of wonder and empowerment in the face of adversity with the idea of love driving us forward. I put this song on whenever I’m walking through the streets of a new place and it gives me a sense of hope and possibility.

I love the line “I get ready, I get all dressed up, to go nowhere in particular. It doesn’t matter if I’m not enough … ’cause I’m young and in love.” This song was released when I had just started my Instagram journey. I remember I was in Thailand and I was also going through something in my personal life and this song really helped me move forward. It gives me a sense of invincibility that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know where I’m going figuratively and literally as long as I’m on the path of doing something I love, which is travel.

FORREST GALANTE (forrest.galante) — TRAVELIN’ by Shwayze & Cisco Adler feat. MOD DUN

With the amount of time I spend on airplanes, I keep my playlists pretty up to date! Right now, my go-to song is Travelin’ by Shwayze & Cisco Adler feat. MOD DUN.

The funny thing is it’s more about love than actual travel. But the chorus and hearing about the different climates in different cities, I find it very relatable. It kind of gets me in the zone to realize the next ten to 80 hours of my life will be in transit before I get to somewhere epic.

CHARLOTTE AND NATALIA (ourtasteforlife) — Need to Feel Loved by Reflekt feat. Delline Bass

Our go-to travel song is one that transports us to a place we never want to leave. Need to Feel Loved by Reflekt is one of the most iconic trance tracks ever produced. At the same time, it’s a song that provokes an overwhelming feeling of freedom and happiness at the highest possible level.

I remember listening to this song at home before we’d started our round the world adventures. I imagined what it would feel like to listen to the same song, lying together on a paradise beach beneath a blanket of stars. Fast-forward a year or so later and there we were, in each other’s arms on a remote beach in Bali, looking up at the stars, listening to the gentle waves, and playing this song. It was a magical moment we’ll never forget.

Today, as I write this, I look out a window to a wet and miserable day, but as I listen to the lyrics, the same electrifying feeling washes over me. I love that no matter where I am, this song can instantly have me believing I’m in paradise.

MARK STEVENS (markcstevens_) — DUST by Bon Bon Vivant

“All I… know is… there’s no harder to place to find than the one you left behind.”

So goes the refrain in Bon Bon Vivant’s Dust. This is a song about searching, about missing home, about the endless wander of those with travel restlessness. I love this track, especially the live version from their album Live at the Jazz Museum because it simultaneously pulses into my ears the jazz ribbons of my home city while having the depth to conjecture the anxiety of the unknown, oncoming experiences.

Abigail Cosio-Kelley is a poet. Her lyrics are winding and non-compulsory. “I am hunting down the scent / of the last place that we met / hoping to find you there again.” The saxophone riff can carry a train ride, or an airport security line, or an impromptu side street exploration. For someone who has fallen endlessly in love with people and places that have intertwined and disappeared seemingly all at once, Dust carries the unifying, Quixotic weight of the voluntary search to have your heartbroken by the road again.

JUSTIN WATER (atwjustin) — I Lived by One Republic

Whenever I’m in transit during my travels I listen to music. My go-to musicians while on flights are Mumford & Sons and Explosions In The Sky. Staring out of the window while on the road in a car or on a train Tropical House playlists get me pumped up and excited for my new environment. However, at the very top of my go-to list of travel songs is hands down OneRepublic’s I Lived.

The song so beautifully encapsulates how I want to live my life. And more importantly, how I choose to live my life by choosing to live a life of travel. It both empowers and inspires me to spend my time and resources on rich, memorable experiences rather than possessions. It stirs up emotions inside me (and often tears) that give me a sense of joy and appreciation for being able to travel around the world. No matter where I am, at the end of every day I want to be able to own saying (and singing):

“I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
Yeah with every broken bone
I swear I lived”

WRITER’S PICK: ZACH JOHNSTON (ztp_johnston) — LAWYERS, GUNS AND MONEY by Warren Zevon

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I’m a huge Warren Zevon fan. I have most of his albums on vinyl and Exicteable Boy is in heavy rotation on my turntable. The song I always go to first on that album is Lawyers, Guns and Money. One, it’s a jam that pulsates and draws you in because it’s a killer rock song all around. Two, it reminds me of being on the road because I always listen to it constantly as I’m about to travel somewhere new and during the first few days on the road.

There’s a lot of sentimentality to Lawyers, Guns and Money that speaks to my experience as a traveler and my time digging deep into darker corners of the world. When I was a teenager, the song was aspirational. Anonymous sex, Russian gangsters, Central American rebels, Caribbean back-room casinos — that was the travel I longed for and, goddamnit, I was going to go out in the world and find it. So I did.

Real talk: I’ve had to use lawyers, guns, and money to get out of sticky situations over the years when “shit hit the fan.” I spent my 20s chasing slavers in East Congo and the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan or sneaking over the “closed” borders or getting deported from other countries.

Those days are behind me. Still, this song brings a smile to my face when I’m about to set off someplace new. But I know I no longer need to live out its lyrics. I know I may get “down on my luck,” but that probably won’t lead to another stint in a Congolese secret police prison. This song reminds me that I carry those experiences with me when I travel somewhere new. The song transitioned from being something aspirational to a reminder that no matter what the world throws at me or what sticky situation I get in our there, I can survive it.

UPROXX HIP-HOP EDITOR’S PICK: AARON WILLIAMS (aaronsmarter) — GET YOU Daniel Caesar feat. Kali Uchis

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Game drive.

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I hate flying. Hate it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not scared of flying. Far from it. I love the feeling of being so high up, so free. But man, do I hate being crammed in a giant metal tube of farts and minor annoyances. Like having to walk through cramped aisles with my head ducked down to get to the public restroom, in which I have to continue to hunch over as I am jostled around by unexpected turbulence and the like. I hate my knees being jammed into the back of the seat in front of me because I didn’t have the extra $200 to spend on the exit row seats. Everything about flying other than the actual flying sucks.

There’s only one thing that calms me down, takes me away, replaces the annoyances with bliss: Daniel Caesar’s smoked whiskey vocals in Get You. The pillowy organ, the comforting heartbeat of that bassline … take me away, Daniel. See you on the ground.

EDITOR’S PICK: STEVE BRAMUCCI (stevebram) — MEANING OF LIFE by Rameses B

There’s this image I have. I’ve carried it for years.

A group of friends, standing in the Gulf of Thailand. The sun is rising. The sky is beginning to glow purple and peach. They are on the other side of a night of wild beach party antics. There were no bad trips. No dramas. Just beauty and self-expression and collective-expression and uninhibited, euphoric joy. And now they stand in this spot, feeling everything, nerve endings electric. Water washing around their bodies; allowing “God’s own bathtub” to warm them.

And in this moment of clarity, in this perfect instant, the friends spontaneously hold hands or throw arms over shoulders or hug. It’s peace and union and connection, in a way that is so rare these days. It’s that feeling that “I am in all the world and all the world is in me.”

That feeling, that moment IS travel in my mind. It’s union and connection and natural beauty and, perhaps most of all, awe. And feeling not at all separate from the majesty of the universe, but rather inextricable from it.

And Meaning of Life is the song that I connect to that moment. Meaning of Life is the song for the split second when the travelers look at one another and begin to laugh with a joy that seems like it might never fade.

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