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Several years ago, I was on a ferry off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, sailing to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela had been held a political prisoner for nearly thirty years. I was sitting at a table inside, watching Table Mountain emerge from the clouds when Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” started playing on my iPod. It wasn’t the studio version of the song, but the live version from his Fenway Park show—one of my favorites because I was there for the 2004 performance..  

I hadn’t been particularly inspired to do anything while gazing out the window. I was exhausted from waking up at 6AM each day and performing manual labor--all while being jet-lagged, mind you. But when that song came on, I suddenly had the urge to write.  I didn’t have a notebook or anything decent to write on so I grabbed several napkins and jotted down some sentences. These later turned into the first travel piece I ever wrote—or at least my first attempt at a travel piece. 

What I have come to realize in my travels is how essential music is to any journey.  It can make or break a trip.

I enjoy a wide range of genres, from hip hop to country and classical to classic rock, but when I travel there is a certain sound that I want. This list is that sound. So if you agree, that’s great. If not, I simply hope the article stirs you to think about the music that is specific to your movement between destinations. Because just as subjective as choices in music are, so too are definitions of travel. 

jimmy buffett music to travel by

Jimmy Buffett. His songs aren’t three minutes of sound; they are three minutes of destination, far away from the normalcy of every day life.  The perfect soundtrack to looking out over the edge of a wing, or the bow of a boat.  First time listeners check out Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads , a four disc compilation of his greatest and lesser known hits.  Live at Fenway Park and License to Chill are also great listens.




paul simon music to travel byPaul Simon’s Graceland. With the African vocals and instrumentation, it is light and energetic and a perfect companion to foot exploration.  “Under African Skies” and “Homeless” are two noteworthy wandering songs on the album. Click here to purchase Paul Simon's album Graceland from  







eric clapton music to travel byEric Clapton’s Unplugged.  There is just something about a bluesy acoustic guitar that speaks to the soul of a traveler.  Perhaps it is the longing for resolve, or just the innate love of the journey.  To say, “Listen to such and such a track,” would be a sin.  Listen to the whole thing. Again and again.  And AGAIN!






kenny chesneyKenny Chesney.  The first half of his discography is a little shaky, but from When the Sun Goes Down (2004) onwards, Chesney’s music is perfect for the road.  The secret is in the guitars.  Check out “I Go Back”,  “Live Those Songs Again”, and “Beer in Mexico”. Click here to purchase Kenny Chesney's album When the Sun Goes Down from






james taylor music to travel byJames Taylor Greatest Hits.  I’m not the most knowledgeable of Taylor fans, but songs like “Carolina On My Mind” and “Mexico” are always favorites to hear as I’m boarding a plane. Click here to purchase James Taylor Greatest Hits from








cat stevens music to travel by

Cat Stevens Gold.  Another artist that I haven’t listened to extensively, but love to hear certain tracks, like “Peace Train” and “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out”, come on the iPod when I’m taking in a new vista. Click here to purchase Cat Stevens album Gold from








van morrison music to travel byVan Morrison.  If you’ve got a gypsy soul, he’ll rock it.  Check out Astral Weeks and Moondance.









creedance clearwater revival music to travel byCreedence Clearwater Revival.  John Fogarty—the lead singer of CCR—had a knack for writing some of the catchiest songs of all time.  If someone ever bottled up the road trip and put it into a song, it was him.  Grab their greatest hits and hit to road.  You’ll know what I mean.







tom petty music to travel byTom Petty.  Nothing is greater than hearing “Learning to Fly” and “Free Fallin’” while you’re driving with the windows down.  It delivers the feeling that every traveler essentially wants to feel: freedom.








bob marleyBob Marley.  We all just need time to chill.  That’s what vacation is for.  Marley is the quintessential background music for that.  Whether you’re kicking back on a boat or slowly swaying in a hammock, Marley is the perfect companion for doing nothing. Click here to purchase Bob Marley's album Legend from  







muddy waters music to travel byMuddy Waters. The original rolling stone, bluesman Muddy Waters speaks to the soul of anyone who has only felt at home on the road. A lone guitar, a voice and some pain is the best medicine for the “Walkin’ Blues.” Check out his two-disc greatest hits The Anthology: 1947-1972. Click here to purchase Muddy Waters album The Anthology from / Issue 173 - September 2018
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