For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the kind of person who finds it hard to go anywhere without music. Commuting to and from work, whether by public transport or whilst driving, the songs blasting out have always made the trip more bearable and more enjoyable.

As I now travel from city to city, spending countless hours on the train, bus, or plane, I have found myself with a regular playlist of songs which I listen to as a ritual before every trip. Undoubtedly there is a song for every occasion. Movies have music soundtracks to accompany them in order to help intensify emotions and enhance meaning to particular scenes. Why shouldn’t your travels have one too?

As one stands on yet another train platform waiting, there is nothing like listening to Bon Jovi scream ‘It’s now or never!’ to make even the dullest wait whiz by. Perhaps these songs remind you of why you were there in the first place. Perhaps, if you struggle with homesickness, listening to a song makes it easier to deal with.

Train tracks Europe
This view could be improved with music.

So, in alphabetical order, I would like to share the following 40 songs, my personal sensory delights, to feed your ears and soul as you travel.

Journey soundtrack

1. Across The Universe — The Beatles
2. Beautiful day — U2
3. Bitter Sweet Symphony — The Verve
4. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams — Green Day
5. Can’t Stop — Red Hot Chili Peppers
6. Dancing In The Moonlight — Toploader
7. Elevation — U2
8. Enjoy The Ride — Morcheeba
9. Feel Good Inc. — Gorrilaz
10. Forever Young — Youth Group
11. From Paris To Berlin — Infernal
12. Go It Alone — Beck
13. Half The World Away — Oasis
14. Hip Hip Hooray — Sneaky Sound System
15. Hitchin’ A Ride — Green Day
16. Holiday — Jet
17. Hotel California — The Eagles
18. I Just Wanna Live — Good Charlotte
19. I’m Yours — Jason Mraz
NZ road square
20. Island In The Sun — Weezer
21. It’s My Life — Bon Jovi
22. Leaving On A Jet Plane — Chantal Kreviazuk
23. Live Forever — Oasis
24. Lose Yourself — Eminem
25. Minority — Green Day
26. New Soul — Yael Naim
27. Neverending Story — Limahl
28. Paradise City — Guns N Roses
29. Road Trippin’ — Red Hot Chili Peppers
30. Sitting With A Stranger — Lior
31. Smells Like Teen Spirit — Nirvana
32. Summertime — DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
33. The Great Beyond — REM
34. The Last High — The Dandy Warhols
35. The Story — Brandi Carlisle
36. Time Of Your Life — Green Day
37. Tonight, tonight — Smashing Pumpkins
38. Under The Bridge — Red Hot Chili Peppers
39. Whatever — Oasis
40. Where It’s At — Beck

Create a manifesto for your journey, and compile some of your favourite songs to help you keep going. Feel free to use my favorites – all I ask is that you don’t judge me for my taste in music!

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Your thoughts on "Top 40 songs: a soundtrack for your journey"

  • This Must be the Place by Talking Heads. Came on the iPod as my wife and I traveled back to London together after getting married and now I always play it when on a flight with her. And yeah, it's a great song.

    on March 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm Reply
  • I'm very sad to say that I read through almost half that list with blank stares. I've never heard about some of these! But then again, I'm weird like that I'll have to try find some of those songs, but here are my additions to the list: Home, by Michael Bubble. Never fails to touch a nerve. Reminds you of home sweet home and all the goodness that comes with it. How Far We've Come, by Matchbox Twenty. A weird selection perhaps, but I find that uplifting tune very apt for an adventurous road trip. And the chorus! And I, believe, the world is coming to and end, so... lets hit the road! Life is Beautiful by Jason Mraz. La la la la la ... And finally, a favorite of me and Michelle - Santa Monica, by Savage Garden. I hope we'll have a chance to visit Santa Monica and find that place every bit as beautiful as the song.

    on March 5, 2009 at 2:49 am Reply
  • I'll never forget listening to Crowded House's Fall at your feet flying back into New Zealand in 2002. Beautiful work. I'd also have to add Tangled up in blue by Bob Dylan for its nomadic wanderings. The song that most reminds me of home? Either anything on Eight's EP (which no-one's ever heard) or Verona by Elemeno P -- I've spent so many afternoons in that K road bar!

    on March 4, 2009 at 7:02 pm Reply
  • 'Low' by Silverchair and 'Into the Dark' by Ben Lee for me, whenever I feel homesick for Sydney!

    on March 4, 2009 at 11:38 pm Reply
  • That's a great list. I find I listen to music traveling to a country but not usually while I'm there. I like listening to the local chatter, the hustle and bustle, and absorbing as much as I can.

    on March 5, 2009 at 3:01 pm Reply
  • And by the way, this list inspired me to come up with a similar Asian Travel Related Road Trip songs.. Do check it out!

    on March 10, 2009 at 7:20 pm Reply
    • Good stuff too. If it wasn't for youtube we wouldn't have any idea about that lot either :)

      on March 10, 2009 at 7:39 pm Reply
  • A great song to listen in the desert - Bullroarer by Midnight Oil. 'In the Desert in the dry, before the breaking of the rain The temperature in the shade had reached 110 again...'

    on April 21, 2009 at 9:25 pm Reply
  • I can't listen to Gogol Bordello without getting itchy feet to travel so that's usually my vagabond sountrack.

    on April 27, 2009 at 2:05 am Reply
  • Blech. Top 40 overplayed garbage.

    on May 6, 2009 at 3:03 pm Reply
  • Awesome list - on my way to make a playlist of them now for my trip to Asia!

    on May 20, 2009 at 12:22 am Reply
  • Thanks - will use them next time I fly

    on August 25, 2009 at 4:49 am Reply
  • Four songs by Green Day and not a one by Zappa. You need to, Unbind your mind, There is no time, To lick the stamps, And paste them in, Discorporate and then, you can begin. Try Watermelon in Easter Hay

    on December 14, 2009 at 2:10 am Reply
  • A song by Jack Johnson or two or more or his entire discography even is perfect for those long train/ bus/ plane/ boat rides!

    on March 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm Reply
  • Muse - Starlight. Perfect for a journey!

    on February 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm Reply
  • I was travelling through Borneo earlier this year and Kings of Leon 'Pony Up' came on my iPod. It's now one of my travel songs : ) Thanks for this list.

    on August 7, 2012 at 6:07 am Reply
  • Two of my favourite travelling songs are: 1. Have Love Will Travel by The Black Keys 2. See the world by The Kooks I love the energy they inspire! Happy Travels!

    on January 27, 2013 at 10:13 am Reply
  • […] of a song I found particularly catchy. Not only did I get the name of the song, but also a list of highly recommended songs, an offer to use her headphones, and an invitation to visit her in Georgia. (The country, not the […]

    on August 18, 2015 at 4:35 am Reply
  • […] – and if you don’t like it, you still can pop into one of the many nearby pubs for live music instead. Like Brixton, Kilburn is also one of the ‘real’ working-class neighbourhoods […]

    on August 19, 2015 at 3:45 am Reply
  • […] some easy software (any suggestions for a mac?) then I’ll do this. I’ve already got the music and photos picked out. It’s a great way to view lots of pictures […]

    on August 27, 2015 at 9:16 am Reply
  • Dear Stephanie, Thanks for your list of some golden classic hits to choose from I have some five or six songs from your list and rest is new for me. Traveling with a pre-selected music list is a tactful thing to do and most choosy times. As there are songs for every occasion and every time span it hard to tell which makes you feel good and when but its better keep your music list with where ever you go who knows when it may come handy for good moments. Its great to share our music interest and I like your themed articles as songs and soundtrack for a memorable journey.

    on April 7, 2016 at 1:36 am Reply
    • Hi NJ, thanks for your comment. I agree, music is important! I heard about a guy who loaded his iPod with songs he'd never heard before, and each time he was in a new place, he listened to a new song. Such a great idea for fixing the place and the song in his mind!

      on April 18, 2016 at 8:59 am Reply

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