Favorite Travel Songs

There’s something so calming and peaceful about being able to put in your headphones and get lost in your own private world that your personal musical playlist gives you.

We all have our favorite playlists to listen to depending on what we’re currently dealing with; whether it’s dealing with heartache/a break up, a playlist for working out, a playlist to motivate and inspire yourself, or a nostalgic playlist filled with old, cheesy songs from your youth (you know, before your music tastes had a real chance to evolve).

When I’m traveling, I’ve got a handy selection of go-to songs I like to listen to. The combination of listening to familiar songs coupled with being in a strange, new place is very comforting to me. I found that listening to my music in certain situations really helped ease me and enjoy my travels so much more, especially during uneasy or restless moments that everyone is bound to experience when traveling. During long stretches riding on the bus, sitting in crowded and hot subways, or times when I was in a crowded hostel room and I just needed “alone” time. Listening to music helped me relax and instead of me thinking, “Are we there yet??” or “Get me OFF this fucking subway”, I would think, “Hey, I’m en route to Italy right now…I can’t believe I can actually say that.” or, “I’m in London riding the tube…this is AWESOME.”

Below is a list I’ve compiled of my favorite travel songs. Some are songs very specific to my most recent trip to Europe, but some are songs that I will always love to listen to, no matter where I’m traveling.

This Time Tomorrow by The Kinks

Well this one is a bit obvious, isn’t it? The song is about traveling on a plane and wondering what will come tomorrow, after he arrives to his destination. The song even includes sound effects of a plane engine! How could you not enjoy this right before you’re about to embark on an adventure?

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire

The opening verse is my favorite of the entire song:

 

They heard me singing and they told me to stop,
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock,
These days, my life, I feel it has no purpose,
But late at night the feelings swim to the surface.
‘Cause on the surface the city lights shine,
They’re calling at me, “come and find your kind.”

Sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small,
That we can never get away from the sprawl.

The lyrics reminds me of someone who is a bit of a wandering soul, someone who doesn’t want to be tied down to the typical, corporate 9-5 lifestyle that we are often fed into believing is the only way to thrive… I think the lyrics are about someone looking for something more out of life, although they aren’t totally sure where or exactly what that is. Reminds me of…me.

 

We Own The Sky by M83

The title says it all. This song is about freedom and independence, things I’ve found the most in myself when traveling.

 

LDN by Lily Allen

This song falls into the category of songs specific to my last trip. Lily has been one of my favorite singers since her debut, and I still listen to her music pretty much every day. I got unbelievably giddy on the bus ride from Wales to London, and as soon as we were within city limits of London, I could barely sit still in my seat. I was so excited to be seeing all of London’s famous sites in person, and listening to Lily, a Londoner, while looking out the window and taking in London for the very first time was spectacular.

 

I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li

Another song that speaks to my wanderlust. The song is about following someone who is wild and unpredictable, like a river. Whomever, or whatever, you may be pursuing might be impossible, but there’s still the journey, right?

 

Going to California by Led Zeppelin

Probably my favorite song of all-time. I’ve never been to California, but the message still remains the same. Going somewhere that you’ve romanticized and idealized about, even if your fantasies about the destination aren’t always realistic or what they turn out to be. Took my chances on a big jet plane…

The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel

Another beautiful song about a lost and wandering soul drifting about…

 

Time To Pretend by MGMT

I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw in the prime of my life. A coming of age song reminiscing about simpler times in childhood, and the uncertainty of growing up and making your way in the “real world”.

 

Such Great Heights by The Postal Service

Yeah, yeah…say what you want. But it’s a great song, and remember this was probably your favorite song at some point in your life.


In My Life by The Beatles

Pretty self explanatory, just listen to the lyrics. Gotta love The Beatles and their beautiful and simple music.

BONUS:

Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus by Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg

This one is most definitely specific to my time in Paris… I was laying in bed sleeping one night with the balcony door open to get a nice breeze, when someone driving was stopped at a light and this song was BLARING from the car. It woke me up instantly, and I laid there in dark, in my little apartment in Paris, listening to Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg serenade each other in French. C’était magnifique!

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Saying Goodbye and Decompressing

In my very first post, on the eve of my departure, I wrote about how I knew I’d be making strong bonds and friendships with the people I’d be traveling with. Little did I know how strong and powerful those bonds would be, so soon into my trip. It sounds so cliché to say, I know, but truly, my life has been changed from the 25 days I spent abroad. And most of it has to do with how I did it, and who I traveled with.

The night of our farewell dinner started off in the hostel bar where we all had some drinks before walking to the restaurant. One by one, we all eventually made our way down there and we started talking about our trip, our favorite memories, and our flights home. I didn’t want to believe that this really was our last night together, I was having so much fun chatting with everyone but it was hard to ignore the fact because it was the topic of our discussions.

We made it to the restaurant, and the dinner went by as fast as the trip! I remember talking to my table about what our favorite cities were, how much we enjoyed our group, and everything else you would talk about at a farewell dinner. Later in the night a lot of us got up and mingled at other tables, then we walked back to the hostel. The night was still early (especially for Barcelona), and I know none of us wanted the night to end, so we ended up straight back at the hostel bar! The bar was a lot more crowded than it was when we left, and we all just hung out and drank some more.

The night was winding down, and my heart was getting sadder. I had been dreading our last night for at least a week, and I tried my best to shove it out of my mind and to live in the moment, so when the actual moment came for our last night, I had no choice but to live in it. I started crying when two girls, Gabby and Carly, left for the night. I really did start to lose it when I was outside with Megan, Darren, and Kevin. Kevin was being so cute and sweet and was telling Darren how much fun and amazing our trip was, and as I was listening to him talk, I started crying more and more. It was one of the very few times in my life that I’ve cried in front of people, but I didn’t care. I just had to.

I eventually made it up to bed, I had to be up really early for my flight home the next day. I woke up the next day feeling as depressed as ever, but I can only chalk that up to being a good thing because it meant that I had the best time of my life. We all said our goodbyes at the airport, which was honestly a blur and I don’t think I said goodbye to everyone which I feel bad about. Luckily, Ashlee was on my flight to Atlanta, and we both had long layovers there, so we hung out for a bit before we had to part ways for our flights home.

Now that I’ve had a few days to decompress and reflect on my trip, it absolutely was, hands down, the best time of my life. Every single day I felt happier than the last, and I found myself laughing at new memories every day. I’ve yearned to travel for as long as I can remember, and most of the time it felt impossible, especially the past few years. Having finally got the opportunity to do so, I honestly can’t imagine it could have been any more perfect than it was. The trip fulfilled every thing I could have possibly wanted it to, and then some. It sounds so lame, but there were so many times in my trip where it felt like the stars aligned and things just seemed too perfect for me.

Obviously visiting so many amazing places was what made my trip so magical, but I feel so grateful and lucky that I got to experience those moments with the people I was traveling with. I completely underestimated how great it is to travel and bond with a bunch of strangers and become so close to them in such a short amount of time. I decided to travel with a group for the convenience, little did I know what a great decision it was because I made so many new friends.

Many of us were traveling solo, and it’s funny how quickly you will bond with people when you are forced to. I am normally a pretty guarded person when you first get to know me, but I felt myself getting so close and comfortable with everyone really quickly, and it felt like we had known each other for years and years. I was telling and sharing things with my new friends that I haven’t even shared with my friends back home. There were so many different personalities in my group, and we all came from very different backgrounds, but we all got along together so well and I loved spending time with everyone. I didn’t feel weird or out of place with a single person in my group, there was always someone to talk to or hang out with. During our free time, it was always so easy to find a person to go out with because there was at least one person interested in doing something that you wanted to do.

There were times where I thought it was just too crazy how similar I was with certain people in my group and how, by chance, we ended up signing up for the same trip and ended up traveling together. Ashlee and I were roommates together in Dublin, and we roomed together in every other city after that because we just had so much in common and we got along so well. We were always on the same page, and we were just great travel companions. I don’t know how it worked out so well, but it really did! It just felt like the stars aligned and we were supposed to meet and become roommates in our first city. I had so many of those “We were supposed to meet!” moments on my trip with many other people, I don’t know if I believe in a higher power, but it’s times like that where it’s hard not to.

Another reason why my trip was so great was because of my tour director! Darren was just so awesome! He was so funny, cool, and he really made sure we were all prepared and ready to take on each city. It felt like we were traveling with a close friend, rather than a chaperone taking us around place to place. Darren made sure we were always at the right place at the right time for certain events, and was always so patient with us when he was explaining important details like public transportation, directions, meeting points, etc. He was so casual about everything, but he worked really hard behind the scenes to make sure everything was seamless for us. He would circle important points on all of our maps, write down the addresses of our hotels on the maps, and he always had interesting facts and anecdotes about each city or monument we were visiting. He also set up some optional excursions for us in each place that were so much fun and a lot of them were the highlights of my trip. Going to Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris was definitely one of my favorites, and Darren read us quotes from Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, which was a real nice touch.

Darren was also such a good sport with our crazy group too, dealing with us messing with him on a constant basis, whether it was hijacking his phone and updating his Facebook status, trying (and failing) repeatedly to impersonate his English accent and British speak (swimming costumes?), or all of us wondering why the hell he was so obsessed with Notting Hill… But Darren also had his fun at our expense too! Making fun of our American accents (Feck off! Ehkwerddddd.), constantly pulling pranks on us and messing with us with his straight-faced sarcasm. I’ve never been on an EF tour before, but it’s hard to imagine there are any better tour directors than Darren!



The memories made on this trip will stay with me forever, and going on this trip only solidified what I always knew, that I need to travel and see the world. I know my traveling adventures are far from over, and new memories will be made, but I don’t think anything I will do will be able replicate how amazing my first time overseas was, for the reasons I just wrote about. Yes, seeing the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and going to the top of Mt. Pilatus were amazing and life changing, but the small moments of me getting to know everyone on my trip and having intimate conversations with them was what set this tour apart from any other tour across Europe. Whenever I told people back home that I was going to Europe for a month, everyone responded the same way, saying that I was about to have a life changing experience. Of course I believed them, but it was hard to truly grasp what they meant until I came home and realized how much my life has been changed and enriched. I fell in love with so many things while I was there, and learned so much. Now I just can’t wait to move onto the next chapter in my life which hopefully includes a lot of traveling, and coming back in contact with all of my new friends.

Message from our hostel in Barcelona
 

 Our trip’s theme song!
 

Barcelona


After spending a lovely two days in Cannes, it was time for us to head to our last stop on the trip, Barcelona. I had a lot of mixed emotions heading to Spain, part of me was extremely excited for obvious reasons, but a cloud loomed over me because I was so not ready to be closing out my amazing journey.

Once we made it to Barcelona, we checked into our AWESOME hostel, then made our way to the beach to find dinner. I ended up at a restaurant right along the pier with Ashlee, Kevin, Courtney, and Hillary. I ate the best dinner, there was so much food for only 26 euros! We got four tapas to share, a main course, and a dessert. My main course was lobster and potatoes. And the tapas were huge! I was expecting really small plates, but the portions were quite large and we weren’t able to finish any of the dishes. We were so surprised with how much food (and how good it was) for the low cost. After dinner, we made our way back to the hostel, which had a great bar with cheap drinks.

The next day was packed with fun activities. First we took a tour of Barcelona, we first ended at Park Güell, a park that was designed by Antoni Gaudí. My favorite architecture in the cities we visited was Barcelona, thanks to Gaudí. Very whimsical, nature inspired, and dream-like. You could honestly stare at one of his designs for hours.

 
After Park Güell, we made our way to Sagrada Familia, a famous Roman Catholic church also designed by Gaudí. This church is still under construction, and hopes to be completed by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. The church is absolutely breathtaking, so intricate and it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before. After the church, we cruised by a few more attractions, and then made our way up to see the best views of Barcelona. We were on top of a hill and saw the entire city below us, it was so massive and beautiful.




After our tour, Darren arranged for us to attend a paella cooking class, which was so much fun. We were all cramped in a small and very hot room, but that didn’t matter once we got some tapas and sangria. Watching the demonstration and learning about the history of Spain’s most classic dish was really interesting to me as well. My grandma was born in Spain, so it was special to hear about how important family and coming together is to cooking and eating paella. I’m sure my Grandma Jeanne was pleased to know that I finally made my way to Spain and got to eat true authentic paella in Barcelona. 🙂 We also got to make our own sangria at the bar, which may not have been the most authentic experience as none of us had ever made it before and we were already a few glasses deep, but…it was fun nonetheless.


After eating paella and drinking sangria, we had a chance to roam around Barcelona a bit more. I stopped at a cafe with Ashlee, Megan, and Jordan to get a cafe con leche. Darren told us how good Spanish coffee is, and if you couldn’t tell from the name, cafe con leche is just coffee with milk. But how good it is! Dare I say I like it better than the many cappuccinos I drank while in Europe (sorry, Megan!)?

After our little coffee break, it was time to ride bikes throughout Barcelona! I was so excited to do this, I really wanted to do the countryside bike riding excursion in Amsterdam, but decided against it because we only had such a limited time in the city. When I heard we were going to have the chance to bike in Barcelona, I felt so much better about my decision because I loveeee bike riding and was glad that I was going to have a chance to bike while in Europe. 

Biking in Barcelona was intense! We biked through the city, which included tiny alleyways and streets, squares congested with people, crossing busy intersections, and anything else you could imagine you would find in a busy city. But it was so much fun! It was so liberating to see Barcelona while biking, we biked through Parc de Ciutadella where we went by a zoo and a beautiful fountain. We made our way to the beach and stopped there for about a half hour for a breather. Then we eventually made our way back to where we started from, but not without weaving in and out of all the traffic and chaos, which I liked.


After biking, we made our way back to the hostel to get ready to go out for the night. I wasn’t very hungry after all the paella we ate, so I just got some patatas bravas at the hostel bar and some vino tinto. Barcelona has a huge nightlife, where people don’t go out until very late (around 12 AM or 1 AM) and don’t get back until the very early hours of the morning. It reminded me a bit of Buffalo, with it’s late nightlife, and I really wasn’t feeling it after such a long day. I decided to hang back at the hostel bar with a few people from my group and had a few glasses of wine and also caught up with some people back home.

The next day, Ashlee and I decided to head out to see Casa Balltó, a house that was designed by Gaudí that has since been turned into a museum. Each and every room was so interesting and different from the last, even though they all had Gaudí’s signature elements. 


I heard that going Casa Balltó at night is a great experience, and I could tell with the lighting and all stained glass that it must be, but we couldn’t go at night because that night was our farewell dinner…