I travel to a soundtrack. It’s a pretty normal thing these days as we all have our favorite travel songs, music, and playlists. A great playlist is an essential for a long haul flight or bus ride.
Even the image of a traveler with a pair of headphones is iconic. Maybe it started with those catchy iPod commercials, or it was just a natural progression. Now we could all use a little “travel music” in our lives, and I wanted to share my favorite songs on my playlist with you.
What Makes Great A Great Travel Playlist?
Music has the power to make us happy, share ideas, preserve culture, and inspire others. A great travel song should do something along those lines and it doesn’t necessarily have to be about traveling itself. I’ve added salsa greats like Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, and Buena Vista Social Club in the past who is a must listen for any traveler in Central America.
Some of these talk of exploration and travel, but other’s simply convey a mood. Songs like Tennessee Whisky or Makeba may not have direct ties to travel, but they are like a snapshot of culture and transports you to another place. The songs on this list range from rap to rock, pop, salsa and even some country.
A playlist about traveling should be just as varied as our planet.
There is no reason to discriminate, good music is good music. Languages range from Xhosa, French, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, and Spanish so we get a nice round up various songs from around the world. Some could be classics while others are modern day hits. I hope this travel playlist makes you smile, brings back memories, and provides you with some new tunes to jam to.
Travel Music Playlist
Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
What better way to kick off this playlist than a song to send us on our way, even if it’s a bit hard to understand the lead singer at times.
Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Because every great collection of songs includes a song from Queen.
I’m Gonna Be – The Proclaimers
This Scottish rock band is a classic for road trips and travel songs. It’s perfect for driving 500 miles, for example, the NC500 in Scotland for instance.
Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
You can’t go wrong with Led Zeppelin and “Ramble On” is just too fitting a title.
Cold Little Heart – Michael Kiwanuka
The newest song on this list is gorgeous and haunting. It’s perfect for reflection.
Society – Eddie Vedder
Pearl Jam’s lead man stepped away to record the soundtrack to “Into the Wild” and gave us a stunning album. Society speaks of checking out of the “need” and “want” in society to be “free.”
Harvest Moon – Neil Young
The melody of this song is beautiful. Exploration and travel can have many moods and feelings. This song is perfect for a long walk down the beach.
The World At Large – Modest Mouse
This song is all about escaping. It could be to “another planet,” or just another city.
Aeroplane – Red Hot Chili Peppers
What could be more fitting for a playlist of travel songs? Anthony Kleidis explains it all with “music is my aeroplane.”
California Love – 2Pac
“California knows how to party”
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
It’s hard to escape the chorus of this song, even if it’s on about traveling.
Little Talks – Of Monsters & Men
“Though the truth may vary. This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore”
The Funeral – Band of Horses
It’s catchy. It’s awesome. It’s Epic. It’s Africa. Deal with it.
Shakira – Waka Waka
The 2010 World Cup song. Nothing unites the world like football and Shakira. It’s one of the biggest songs of all time and just about everyone in the world has heard it.
Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba
This song is undeniably catchy even if you can’t understand all of the Xhosa lyrics. Makeba was a vocal activist against apartheid in South Africa and was even exiled. After the release and election of Nelson Mandela, he himself personally convinced her to return where she continued to produce music and fight for civil rights in Africa.
Makeba – Jain
It’s catchy, draws heavily on modern afro beats, and it’s a tribute to Makeba. Pretty cool with me.
Gangnam Style – PSY
I’ll never forget the moment I came across this video on Reddit. It left me speechless. The music video was simultaneously hilarious and amazing. It had all of 4 Million views which was massive at the time, fast forward to 2017 and the music video has nearly 3 billion views. PSY has become a cross cultural phenomenon touring all over the world and is a perfect example of the increasingly global world and music scene.
Paper Planes – M.I.A.
Sri Lankan M.I.A. is a polarizing figure and Paper Planes is a politically charged song filled with drug references. It shouldn’t be any this song is considered one of the best of its decade.
Soy Yo -Bomba Estereo
Bomba Estereo has been making waves for nearly a decade now bringing Colombia and Modern South American music to the masses. There electro jungle beats and entrancing lyrics are sure to hook you. Get ready for some fire in Latin America.
Aguanile – Willie Colon & Hector Lavoe
Sticking with Espanol and heading up to central America it’s time for some salsa. This is a classic song by two of the genre’s greats.
Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club
This album sparked an interest internationally in Central American music. The talent of the ensemble group is everywhere in the album.
All Izz Well – Kej
Bollywood is a cultural juggernaut and right behind Hollywood. This is from “3 Idiots” starring Aamir Khan one of the celebrated modern day Indian films.
Chaiya Chaiya – Sukhwinder Singh
This song is from the Hindi film Dil Se, but what’s most incredible is the music video shot entirely on a train… You have to watch it. Oh, and the song is great.
Lamallem – Saad Lamjarred
Moroccan culture and music was well known for its influence in music laying claim influencing greats like Jimi Hendrix. However, it’s been largely quiet in recent years until pop sensation Saad Lamjarred came along.
Indian Summer – Jai Wolf
Something about this makes you want to explore the world.
Around The World – Daft Punk
The French duo known as Daft Punk are juggernauts in the music industry and the world is still waiting for the day they tour “around the world,” again.
Night Call – Kavinsky
Produced by one-half of Daft Punk the opening song to the movie Drive makes me want to put the pedal to the metal and drive.
The Passenger – Iggy Pop
I love this song.
Anderson .Paak – Come Down
Have you heard of Anderson .Paak yet? Expect to see a lot more of this guy if you didn’t catch his incendiary Grammy performance. The song is upbeat and blends jazz, hip hop, rock, and soul successfully.
Call Me – St Paul & The Broken Bones
This white guy from Alabama has got the soul!
Tennessee Whisky – Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton is one of the most prolific song writers with being credited for dozens of modern country hits and even Adele. However, it’s his cover of Tennessee Whisky I can’t seem to get out of my head.
Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf
If there is one Iconic travel song it has to be Born To Be Wild. “Head out on the highway. Lookin’ for adventure”
King Of The Road – Roger Miller
He may have nothing, but the “King of the Road” has all the freedom of a vagabond.
Jackson – Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
“When I breeze into that city, people gonna stoop and bow.” It’s about setting the night on the fire in a new city song by a country great.
Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
It’s hard to stay in a bad mood when listening to this song. It’s a love song about being at “home” with your friend or someone special no matter where you are in the world.
Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen
Let’s all follow Bruce’s advice and escape the modern day “death trap…suicide rap” and hit the open road because we were “born to run.”
Space Oddity – David Bowie
Who’s going to be the first tourist in space?
Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – Paul Simon
It’s a blend of Americana and South African Lady Blacksmith Mambazo that’s undeniably catchy. It’s hard not to love Paul Simon.
Coming Home – Leon Bridges
What decade is Leon Bridges from? Because he certainly doesn’t sound like a modern day artist despite being only 28. I just hope my travels home go as smooth as his voice and this song.
Theme from New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
What more can be said about the legendary Frank Sinatra. It’s the perfect song to sip martinis in the greatest city on earth. (New York).
Je T’aime moi mon Plus – Serge Gainsbourg
Serge is more or less the French version of Frank Sinatra and one of the most Iconic French pop artists. His musical style varies greatly and you can find his influence across a wide range of music and pop culture.
Zina – Babylone
Algerian rock band Bablyone made this beautiful love song that has an ability to transcend language.
Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
One of the greatest songs of all time.
Carolina In My Mind – James Taylor
Not only is it a destination song, but it’s from my home state. Every time I hear this song it brings me right back home. I couldn’t think of a better song to finish with.
- We love to travel with portable speakers when we are on the road so we can both enjoy the same music.
- Good headphones can also be hard to come by when you are abroad. We usually travel with two in case we lose one.
- We personally store all of our music on our phones, but the iPod shuffle is a good cheap alternative to burning through your storage.
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