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The Ultimate Travel Playlist

There are a few essentials when it comes to traveling. Clean socks and underwear, a pillow, comfortable footwear and a notebook are all be on top of my packing list.

But headphones and a device to play music are just as important. You can get by without socks and underwear if you really have to. But without music, you’re in for a longggg trip.

So, heading into the holiday season here, I thought it would be fun to put together a playlist of some of my favorite travelin’ tunes. A good soundtrack can make or break your experience, so make sure you have plenty of music to keep you sane!

I could have included about a million more songs, but in the interest of brevity I boiled it down to 15 favorites. What’s on your travel playlist? We’d love to hear it! Click continue reading for the playlist.

The Ultimate Travel Playlist:

Spotify Playlist:

YouTube Playlist:

1. Dropkick Murphys – “Memorial Day”

It’s go time! You’ve got a 6 AM flight to catch, and if you’re like me, you were up until 2 packing. A little Boston punk rock is the perfect alarm clock to get the blood flowing and make sure you don’t miss your flight.

2. Bon Iver – Holocene

You made it to the airpot on time, congrats! Now that 6 AM flight has been delayed until who knows when. The lines are long, the same annoying message is droning on and on over the loudspeaker, and you’re wandering around the airport like a sleep deprived zombie, trying to figure out how to properly disrobe to avoid being strip-searched at security. You haven’t even left yet and you’re already stressed! Bon Iver will lull you back into a state of zen so you can relax and enjoy a pleasant layover.

3. Tom Petty – Time to Move On

You’re finally on the airplane. You’ve made it through the airport, trip abroad is really happening, and you’re getting excited again! Tom Petty will bring out all those inspiring feelings of wonder and wanderlust in no time!

4. Prince Royce – “Darte un Beso”

You’re beginning your descent, about to touch down in your new home. Time to get pumped! Throw on some popular local music to reduce your initial culture shock. Mr. Royce happens to be really popular in Latin America right now, but feel free to replace with a well known artist from whatever region you happen to be traveling to.

5. Nature Sounds – “Rain and Thunder”

Jet lag is no fun. Put some relaxing nature sounds on your headphones, get a good night’s sleep, and start the process of adjusting your biological clock to your new time zone!

5. The Head and The Heart – “Down in the Valley”

You’re well rested and ready to get out and explore! You need some good wandering around music. Something mellow and peaceful to set you at ease as you begin to take in the beauty of your new surroundings.

6. Yann Tiersen – “comptine d’un autre ete l’apres midi”

A little bit of classical piano to keep your brain juice flowing as you marvel at the incredible museums and art and cultural landmarks of your new home.

7. Empire of the Sun – “Concert Pitch”

Time to hit the town! It’s Friday, and you’re ready to see what the nightlife in your new locale has to offer. You need some dancing music to get you ready for the disco, and a little EDM should do the trick.

8. Passion Pit – “Carried Away”

Another great dancing song. Put this on the jukebox at the bar and you’ll have everyone cheering you on while you do the lawnmower on the dance floor.

9. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Karaoke time! Get your 20 new best friends up on stage to attempt the funnest karaoke song of all time.

10. Avicci – “Levels”

A late night anthem for when you’re having too much fun to go home yet.

11. Iron and Wine – “Someday The Waves”

Indulge in a few too many glasses of sangria out on the town? Iron and Wine will help cure your headache on Saturday morning while you desperately search for coffee.

12. We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Quiet Little Voices”

You can’t stay in bed all day, so go get some exercise! Running is a great way to explore too, so put on some good work out music and get out there. This is one of the best running songs ever. Taking care of your body during your time abroad can do wonders for your psyche!

13. Tycho – “Melanine”

Studying for your TESOL certification or final exam? Teaching abroad and swamped with homework to grade? Trying to catch up on your blog after weeks of adventures? Sometimes you just have to focus, get down to business and crush some work. I get ADD while listening to music with lyrics, so Tycho is my go to “getting work done” soundtrack.

14. Yanni – “Santorini”

Did you pass your final? Climb a mountain? Witness the most amazing sunset you’ve ever seen? You need to celebrate with the most triumphant piece of recorded music in history! Put this song on and you’ll instantly feel like a superhero.


Music is amazing, and can really add a lot to many different situations. But interacting with people is really awesome too. Don’t forget to leave your headphones at home once in a while and talk to people. Meeting interesting new friends is half the point of traveling! Also, it’s kind of dangerous to walk around a busy street with headphones in. Safety first!

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