30 of the best travel songs
Whether you’re staring at the earth from the window of a plane, driving down a winding highway, or admiring city streets out the side of a bus, there’s nothing better than having some good music to accompany you on your travels; so, we threw together thirty songs about travelling from some of our favourite artists for you to add to your travel playlist! The songs speak of everything from specific destinations to growing as a person, appreciating the moment, and letting loose, which have always been an important part of our journeys. We chose a mix of popular and lesser known songs in hopes that you might actually come across something new that you hadn’t heard before, but that you also wouldn’t completely hate. Here’s a break down of each song – we hope you enjoy the playlist, it’s pretty darn chill!
1. Free – Trevor Hall
Trevor Hall wrote Free after his flight was delayed for seven hours, making him late to arrive for a performance in Squamish, Canada. He arrived at the Vancouver airport at 3am and rushed to the festival; during the drive the sun began to rise over the ocean, and he realised that if he wasn’t late he never would have witnessed that amazing scene. So yeah, we added this because travelling can be stressful but it’s a lot better than sitting at a desk, so it’s important to keep that in mind if you start getting worked up with late flights, lost baggage, or whatever else gets thrown at ya.
2. Guaranteed – Eddie Vedder
This song was an instant classic. Eddie Vedder wrote Guaranteed for the film “Into The Wild”, which you should definitely watch (or read the book!) if you aren’t familiar with the story. It’s all about going back to the basics, living a simple life, and being free to do as you please; listen to the lyrics and we think you’ll pick up on that no problem.
3. Big Sur – Jack Johnson
What’s a travel playlist without some Jack Johnson? Big Sur definitely has some tropical, surfy vibes; but we like listening to it no matter what setting we’re in. It’s perfect for a travel playlist because it’s about about briefly escaping the things we can’t avoid in life, being surrounded by your best friends, and getting lost in conversations that only end because you have to go to bed.
4. New York – Cat Power
Cat Power’s cover of “New York, New York” is one of our favourites by far. The song was originally written for Martin Scorsese’s film New York, New York (sorry for saying New York so much…), and was re-recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1979, which is the most popular version of the song now. Anyways, the song is about the stiff competition and valuable rewards that can be obtained in New York City, and it makes us want to go there every time we hear it.
5. Step Out – José González
Step Out was written for the film “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty”, which if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand why it had to be included in the playlist. This song (and the film) is all about getting out of your comfort zone and leaving behind the things that make you feel too “at home”, so it’s pretty perfect for our purposes!
6. Sunny – Bobby Hebb
Everyone knows this one! Sunny is definitely about a love that eases the pain during a difficult time in life, and in a way, isn’t that travel for all of us?
7. Here’s To Now – Ugly Casanova
Here’s another song from a movie. Here’s To Now was written for the film “180° South: Conquerors of the Useless”, a documentary of a man retracing the steps of Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard, the founders of The North Face and Patagonia, respectively. It’s a pretty epic journey as he drives south from Ventura, California to Patagonia, Chile (get it? 180° South?), and then climbs Corcovado Volcano. Here’s To Now is a perfect travel song because it’s about living in the moment, but also the odd dichotomy between living spontaneously and planning ahead; you know, the classic “should I book the hostel now or find a bed once I get there?” dilemma.
8. These Old Shoes – Deer Tick
These Old Shoes is about travelling long distances and getting to your love by any means necessary, which is pretty much how we feel when we know there’s cold pint waiting for us at our next destination.
9. Riders On The Storm – The Doors
Another classic song that’s always been on our road trip playlists. Riders On The Storm is largely about how we’re a tiny part of a massive, chaotic universe; which is both terrifying and comforting at the same time- but don’t worry about it too much, try to have fun on your trip!
10. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman hit it out of the park with Fast Car. It’s been a favourite family road trip song for many of us even when we were kids, so there’s a bit of nostalgia there, but it’s also appropriate for a travel playlist because of its “chasing a dream” theme. Sometimes you just gotta get away!
11. Old Pine – Ben Howard
Old Pine is a perfect song about creating memories, growing up, and being completely intoxicated by an experience. We think everyone has memories that this song will bring back, or maybe you’ll make new ones to it, you do you.
12. Mountain House – Blue Child Collective
Mountain House is for the people that come across places in their travels and wish they could just build a house and live there forever; you probably can’t, but you can sure dream about it.
13. The Stars Keep On Calling My Name – Mac Demarco
The Stars Keep On Calling My Name is another one that follows the “get out of town, escape the same old routine” trend, which is pretty relatable. This one always has always has us tapping our feet and bobbing our heads in the aeroplane. #noshame
14. Something Good – Alt-J
This is where we usually fall asleep. Something about Something Good makes us think of flying through the air (is that weird?); in reality, this song is about mending a broken heart with fun distractions. Maybe that resonates with you, maybe it doesn’t, either way this song is a gooder.
15. Silver Timothy – Damien Jurado
Silver Timothy is part of two records that Damien Jurado has created telling the story of a dream he had about a man who leaves his home with no form of ID and wanders through the desert. It’s more or less about trying to disappear and find yourself, but it’s a little adventurous too.
16. The Air That I Breathe – The Hollies
Another song about forgetting everything that brings you down and just being happy with someone special, The Air That I Breathe is a good one to get you into relaxation mode and start making the most of your trip.
17. The Time And The Weight – Current Swell
The Time And The Weight is a bit heavy. It focuses on how time is fleeting, and the weight that comes along with making the right decisions with the time we have. So why not take a trip and experience something new while we can?
18. Fisher – Camel Power Club
Fisher is a nice reminder to stop comparing yourself to others and just go have the most fun you can have for you.
19. So Tired – Crumb
We added So Tired to the playlist because, to us, it says a lot about being frustrated with the world as it is and trying to escape it for a bit.
20. On A Cocoanut Island – Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong took beach vibes and put them directly into a song with On A Cocoanut Island. It takes us back to eating homemade ice cream on tropical islands and watching the sailboats go by while the waves crash onto the beach and wash up to our feet… Good times.
21. Amsterdam – Peter Bjorn and John
Amsterdam is another heavy song, but it’s still a classic that we had to include. It isn’t exactly about Amsterdam itself, but more about someone you love going off to do better things and then being stuck thinking about how well they’re doing without you (yep, pretty saddening – sorry). Maybe a trip to Amsterdam is what you need to turn that frown upside down?
22. The World At Large – Modest Mouse
This has been a favourite song since the days of sitting in the backseat of our parent’s car going on road trips. The World At Large is about a drifter that isn’t exactly sure what they’re looking for or what they want but they know that everything will be okay in the end. It’s the perfect song to go along with that restlessness that never goes away. The World At Large flows perfectly into Float On on the same album – Pro tip: listen to them back to back.
23. Mountain Sound – Of Monsters And Men
We threw in Mountain Sound because it makes us think of hiking through Iceland and gets hyped up to go one day (Of Monsters and Men are from Reykjavik btw). The song is also about realising the true weight of your actions, not the weight you perceive that they have, so maybe that will speak to you?
24. Tomorrow Comes Today – Gorillaz
In all honesty we’re not 100% sure what this song is about or why we love having it in a travel playlist. We’re pretty sure it touches on not wanting to be on the camera or surrounded by all the technology of the digital age – there’s more to your trip than how it makes your Instagram look, after all.
25. St. Elsewhere – Gnarls Barkley
CeeLo Green and Danger Mouse are a pretty iconic duo, so we had to include St. Elsewhere even though it’s another song that’s widely open to interpretation. At first it sounds perfect because it’s obviously about getting away and not wanting to be tied down or held back, but we’re pretty sure there’s more to it than that and are open to suggestions.
26. Tighten Up – The Black keys
Less about travel and more about running wild for love, we think Tighten Up is still fairly relevant to for a travel playlist. He used to run wild until he met someone that made him ready to slow down, unfortunately, that person is still running around doing their own thing.
27. Gotta Travel On – Bob Dylan
There are tons of different versions of Gotta Travel On, with variations in lyrics and titles, but Bob Dylan’s is probably the most well known. The lyrics are pretty straight forward – He’s been in the same old town for too long and it’s time for him to move on. Been there.
28. City Lights – The White Stripes
City Lights encompasses the feeling of looking out the plane window at night and seeing the glowing of the city lights of your final destination. Isn’t that just the best?
29. Holiday – Ocean Alley
Holiday is pretty much just about letting loose on vacation, doesn’t get much simpler than that!
30. I Mua – Nahko And Medicine For The People
One of the translations of “I Mua” from Hawaiian to English is “to move forward”. Nahko wrote this song as a tribute to Mauna Kea, the volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, but is also a celebration of life. We think it’s suiting for a travel playlist because of how lucky we are to be able to see the world the way we can nowadays.
Let us know which travel songs you have in your playlist in the comments!