General

MAKING A PLAYLIST FOR YOUR TRIP: Music to Get You Going

How to pick the perfect travel playlist to get you in the mood for your next trip.

You've just booked the vacation of a lifetime. Even if it's not the most exotic destination, it's somewhere that you've wanted to visit for years. Once you've purchased your ticket and figured out where you're going to be staying, you begin to realize that there are thousands of things that you can do with your time. No matter where you're off to, your sense of novelty and wonder is aroused. You will soon encounter new restaurants, new bars, new people and, of course, new sounds.

We here at Gray Line understand that travel is not just about sightseeing. It's about immersing yourself in a culture; about having new experiences; about breaking routine. There are few things as exciting as traveling for the sake of just seeing something different. Depending on where you're going, we've comprised a few pointers to help you make a playlist that will not only get you excited for your trip; it may teach you a thing or two about the place to which you're going, too.

Metropolis Playlist

When you're getting ready to go to a major city like New York, London, Toronto, Paris or Berlin, you're going to find yourself overwhelmed as you try to create an itinerary. There's so much to do in these metropolises that even people who have lived in them for decades have only managed to get a cursory glance at some of their most significant attractions. For example, few New Yorkers have ever been to the top of the Empire State Building. Far fewer have been to Carnegie Deli.

With so much to do, it's a good idea for first-time visitors to take one of Gray Line's Hop-On Hop-Off tours in order to get to know the lay of the land. Furthermore, you'll get to see what drives these alpha cities. It isn't just the fact that they're loaded with landmarks and iconic streets; rather it's the creative energy that flows throughout them. While you may want to put on some hip hop tracks from the likes of Atmosphere, Jurassic 5, Childish Gambino and Nas to capture the beat of the city, you should also add some more frenetic tunes by artists like TV on the Radio, Soul Coughing, Maps & Atlases or Medeski, Martin & Wood because not every denizen of a metropolis walks in a 4/4. Then again, you can't go wrong with some solid rock songs from J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Wolfmother and Tame Impala, or a few British punk anthems from artists like the Buzzcocks or the Clash. Whether London, New York or Montreal is calling, you'll definitely begin to feel the urge to be in the big city.

Monument Playlist

Some of the most memorable traveling experiences occur when you find yourself walking through a monument that possesses an almost otherworldly beauty. Destinations like Machu Picchu in Peru, Meteora in Greece and Angkor in Cambodia are all reminders of the fact that human ingenuity can manifest itself anywhere in the world. There are also sites that have been preserved for millennia in the same state as when they were constructed. Ancient cities like Pompeii in Italy or Joya de Cerén in El Salvador have both been buried in ash for well over 1,000 years, but have been uncovered within the past century. While they may seem thousands of miles away from major cities like Rome or San Salvador, they can be reached in a just a few hours by one of our Gray Line bus tours.

When you're wandering through the majestic Mayan ruins like Chichen-Itza, around the ornate Bavarian castle of Neuschwanstein or in the moonscape of Anatolia’s Cappadocia, you may feel as though you are within the cover of a progressive rock album. It only makes sense, then, to let out your inner nerd as you prepare for the trip. While you will want to include some newer progressive bands like Radiohead, Stereolab, the Flaming Lips and the Mars Volta, your playlist should also contain a few songs from classic prog rock acts. Bands like Yes, (early) Genesis, King Crimson, Curved Air and Pink Floyd may be considered absolutely necessary to some purists, especially when you consider the fact that Pink Floyd even played a gig in the ruins of Pompeii in the early 70s.

Hitting the Beach

Whether you're traveling to Bali, Los Cabos, Tel Aviv, Honolulu or Ibiza, you'll find that, wherever there's a beautiful beach, there's usually a party. And while there are certain artists who are ideal for relaxing on the sands of the Caribbean, such as Bob Marley, many of the most popular beach destinations tend to favor a sound that is intended to get you out of your lounger and onto the dance floor. Checking out DJs like Girl Talk and Hardwell will certainly prepare you for a night of tearing up the dance floor. If you're thinking about putting a donk on it, you may want to just stay home.

Keeping Things Local

A lot of cities and regions are home to a style of music that is paramount to their culture. Flamenco, for example, is not just a popular style of guitar in Spain; it engenders a portion of Spanish identity. A similar thing can be said of reggae in Jamaica; rebetiko in Greece; tango in Buenos Aires; and huayno in several Andean nations, as well as in subway systems the world over. It's both fun and educational to explore the traditional styles of the city or nation to which you are going. Several styles of music, from American folk to the traditional music of Scotland or Georgia's Kakheti province, tell stories of the events that shaped their culture, whether it is their heroes and heroines, or their tragedies and triumphs.

You may also want to see if there is a single individual who helped generate the sound of a particular city or region. One cannot help think of Bach when considering Leipzig, just as no one can hear the word Liverpool without thinking of the Beatles. Though there are few bands or individuals who cast such commanding shadows, most cities have at least one local genius worth looking into. Mozart, for example, maintains such a presence in the Austrian city of Salzburg that Gray Line even offers a tour that showcases the composer's birthplace, Getreidegasse 9, as well as the locations he frequented during his formative years.

No matter where you're going, getting a solid playlist together will only make you that much more excited about seeing and experiencing something new. It may also teach you something about where you’re going.

HAVE YOUR SAY - Leave a comment below.

(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)
Back to Magazine