Backpacker's Playlist: Top 10 Songs for Solo Travel

Is there anything more satisfying than the perfect soundtrack in the right moment?  

Probably, yes.

But even so, there’s something to be said about an artfully crafted playlist that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes you to your core.   A song that so perfectly verbalizes all of your thoughts and emotions, you feel like someone is secretly filming you in a music video.

I admit, I am not the most dedicated music appreciator.  I’m lazy and I really only listen to music when I’m trying to drown out noisy co-workers.  I could think of a million other things I'd rather do than search for new music which is why I love music sharing sites like Spotify and Rdio, allowing me to ride on the playlist coat tails of my much more ambitious friends.   (Thanks guys!)

Solo traveling is one exception.  I put in concerted effort to ensure I have the perfect soundtrack for soaking up the world.  These are the jams I most prefer to accompany me on my travels.

1.  The World At Large – Modest Mouse

Best Lyric:  I like songs about drifters-books about the same.  They both seem to make me feel a little less insane.
Perfect for: The moment you realize you’re ready for a change.  You feel weightless and free and ready to float on to a new destination or new experience with no fear.

2. Song: Wagon Wheel -- Old Crow Medicine Show   

Best Line: And I gotta get a move on before the sun.  I hear my baby callin' my name and I know that she's the only one.  And if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die free.
Perfect for: Moments you decide to trust a group of complete strangers,hoping they are actually good people, knowing full well it could end terribly, then having those strangers turn out to be some of the kindest, most interesting people you’ve ever met and maintaining life-long friendships.   
Alternatively perfect for: hitch hiking if you’re into that sort of thing.

3. Who Knows Who Cares -- Local Native

Best Line:  The current has us now, it's okay.  Take into account that it's all about to change  Who knows, who cares?
Perfect For:  Falling in love with a stranger on the road.  You know it’s destined to be short lived so you’re determined to make the best of the time you have.  This song is great for throwing caution to the wind and wearing your heart on your sleeve a la Before Sunrise.

4.  Sailing Away -- Jennifer Castle

Best Line:  I don’t need a home, don’t need a lover.  I’ll be out on my own come hell or high water.  
Perfect For:  a moment you’re feeling particularly empowered.  Maybe you just navigated the chaotic streets in a foreign city all on your own.  Or perhaps you survived a multi-day through hike alone.  The song is about doing what’s best for you unapologetically and being stronger and more confident because of it.  

5.  Sailing -- The Strumbellas

Best Line:  No line in particular.  The beat the real meat of the song.
Perfect for: capturing the emotion, excitement and anxiety that comes right before you step on the plane.  The adrenaline is pumping and and you’re feeling invincible.  The mood of this song captures the optimism and idealism associated with the beginning of a new journey.

6. Just For Now -- Cloud Control

Best Line: Let's go out and make the road shake.  I got love to make.  And I've gotta leave in the morning light.  Got a book to write.
Perfect for: leaving loved ones behind: Family, friends, significant others.  It’s never easy saying goodbye (I’m notoriously the worst with keeping composure with goodbyes) but this song perfectly describes the things waiting for you on the other side of your goodbyes and it’s a good reminder that nothing is permanent.  You can always return.

7.   Rivers and Roads – The Head and the Heart

Best Line:  Been talkin' 'bout the way things change, and my family lives in a different state.  If you don't know what to make of this then we will not relate.
Perfect for:  Feeling sad as hell.  I’m guilty of glamorizing and glorifying travel, but the reality is it can sometimes be incredibly lonely. It’s totally normal to be homesick, to miss your friends and families and to long for a deep sleep in your own familiar bed.  Traveling can be great but it’s a packaged deal.  This song is perfect for when nothing seems to be going right. and you feel a million miles away from everyone who matters.

8.  King of the World -- First Aid Kit.

Best Line: I keep running around, trying to find the ground. But my head is in the stars and my feet are in the sky. Well I'm nobody's baby. I'm everybody's girl. I'm the queen of nothing. I'm the king of the world.
Perfect for:  Feeling eternally young and spry.  I think we lose a certain bounciness as we age  but this song is transports you right back to being a wee babe, freed of expectations and full of youthful exuberance.

9.  When My Time Comes -- Dawes

Best Line: Oh you can judge all the world on the sparkle that you think it lacks.  Yes you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back.
Perfect for: A very terrifying bus ride to a very beautiful place.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s the middle of the night and you’re on a rickety bus going one thousand miles an hour on a winding mountain road.  The driver seems to have no concept of safety or centripetal force and you’re almost certain the bus will slide off the mountain at any moment.  Miraculously, you arrive to your destination safely and you conclude the ride of death was well worth the incomparable vistas.

10.  Vienna -- Billy Joel

Best Line: But you know that when the truth is told, that you can get what you want or you could just get old.
Perfect for:  Chilling the fuck out.  I might get some flack for this one but I don’t even care.  This song, no matter how cliche, is still one of my favorite songs ever.  I’m a girl who likes to plan and for the longest time I had a hard time accepting an uncertain future.  I’d drive myself dizzy trying to figure  out where exactly I’d be in five years and precisely how to get there.  This song is about slowing down and being okay with derailed plans.  Enjoy the present because you can’t possibly know the future.  Vienna will be there waiting for you when the time is right.

Did I leave any out?  Let me know your favorite songs for travel!

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