Music, Memory and Creating Better Travel Experiences

One of the most essential things you can bring with you on an epic adventure of self-discovery? Music.

When I was living abroad, I made a playlist of all the music that reminded me of Ireland. From U2 and Kodaline to Dropkick Murphys and even Omi, each song held a particular significance for me. What’s better? Now, when I listen to these same songs, I’m transported back to a land I love dearly, to a time when I felt fearless and adventurous, and to some of the most crazy and inspiring moments of my life.

Music holds extreme power, and its link with long-term memory is tremendously strong.

Scientifically speaking, when we listen to music, we activate three very large parts of our brain: the auditory, motor and limbic regions. The motor areas process the rhythm, the auditory areas process the sound, while the limbic areas associate with our emotions. When listening to a familiar song, these three regions work together and our brain recalls the thoughts, feelings and experiences we had while listening to this tune. This is why some songs will forever be associated with specific moments, like your first love, graduating college or going on a road trip with your best friend. Memories are involuntarily stored inside of music.

When you pair songs to these moments in your life, you are essentially creating a soundtrack for the mental movie that plays in your head. Your brain kicks into action and starts to call back the people, places and images associated with these moments, allowing you to remember more of the experience.

So, when you’re about to jet off to exciting new parts of the world, it is beneficial to plan ahead and prepare a playlist of music that will help authenticate your journey. When traveling, I find it helps to pair music styles to the places you are visiting: Irish music when traveling to Ireland, French music when traveling to France – this allows the experience to be pinned-point more easily upon recall. But when all is said and done, anything will do.

To help get you started, here is a list of the best songs to travel the world to. Whether you’re in Italy, Greece or Canada, these songs will invoke a deep desire to chase your dreams, explore the unknown and, above all, seek adventure.

  1. Zac Brown Band – Tomorrow Never Comes
  2. Coldplay feat, Beyonce – Hymn for the Weekend
  3. Imagine Dragons – Trouble
  4. American Authors – Best Day of My Life
  5. Wintersleep – Weighty Ghost
  6. Kodaline – Coming Alive
  7. The Black Keys – Gotta Get Away
  8. Shakira – Gypsy
  9. Rascal Flatts – Life is a Highway
  10. Mumford & Sons – Hopeless Wanderer
  11. George Ezra – Budapest
  12. Avicii – The Nights
  13. Capital Cities – Safe and Sound
  14. Take That – These Days
  15. Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
  16. Zac Brown Band – Jump Right In
  17. Imagine Dragons – On Top of the World
  18. Coldplay – Paradise
  19. Andy Grammar – Red Eye
  20. One Republic – Counting Stars
  21. Avicii Feat. Aloe Blacc – Wake Me Up
  22. U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name
  23. Kodaline – Ready
  24. Flogging Molly – The Wanderlust
  25. The Script – Hail, Rain or Sunshine
  26. Asaf Avidan – One Day
  27. Paper Lions – Travelling
  28. We Are Augustines – Headlong Into the Abyss
  29. Death Cab for Cutie – You Are a Tourist
  30. Take That – If You Want It
  31. Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams
  32. U2 – Beautiful Day
  33. Kodaline – Brand New Day
  34. Shakira – Waka Waka
  35. Zac Brown Band – Quiet Your Mind
  36. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
  37. Imagine Dragons – I Bet My Life

2 thoughts on “Music, Memory and Creating Better Travel Experiences

  1. Funny thing is my music changes whenever i’m off traveling. Usually listen to completely different stuff than when at home.

    Radical Face – Always gold
    Bon Iver – Heavenly Father
    Alexi Murdoch – Breathe
    M83 – Outro
    Thirty Seconds to Mars – From Yesterday


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