My Favorite Travel Music

Music can set the tone for a trip. Sometimes if I am feeling sleepy or unmotivated while on the road and I put on the right electro soundtrack, I can pump myself up for a night of fun. Sometimes when I am in a peaceful place and a certain song comes on Genius on my iPod, I can sink to a dark place. There's plenty of music to I listen to at home but wouldn't listen to on the road. I have music for grading/working/studying (Ludovico Einaudi), music for rallying to go out on a Friday night after a long day of work (MIA), dinner party music for friends (Washed Out), lazy Sunday music (Howlin' Wolf), cooking music (Billie Holiday), etc.

And then there is road trip music. What would my basic backpacking soundtrack sound like? It really depends on how I am traveling! Driving my car from Tallahassee to New Orleans is going to garner a different vibe from curling up on a train in Eastern Europe or from whipping around the Andes Mountains on a  rickety bus. Also, it makes a huge difference if I am out in nature vs. in a city setting. Landscape and music can absolutely interact with each other!

My basic criteria for a great travel soundtrack: A twinge of nostalgia, a dash of adventure, a sprinkling of twang and mischief, and whistling and/or clapping garners some bonus points. Also, tambourines.

Here are some examples:



Roadtrip song for a long haul on the highway

Forest song for driving through the woods


Train music for dozing off on the high speed rail


New city music for pulling into an unfamiliar urban landscape

Other travel favorites include: Jenny Lewis, EMA, The Mountain Goats, Sharon Van Etten, Santigold, Lykke Li, First Aid Kit. I made a roadtrip rock playlist over at indieshuffle I want to share, so whether you are about to hit the road and need some good tunes or if you are just lounging around your apartment and want to play some whimsical folksy music, check it out:

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