100 Essential Travel songs

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What makes a great song when you’re travelling?

That’s such an open-ended question, that if I thought about it too much, it would defeat the entire purpose of this page.

So, ignoring the fact I put “Essential” songs, consider this a subjective list. For me, the best travel songs enhance the moment. Whether you are sunbathing on a beach, beside a pool, or if you’re watching the world go by via the train window, there’s a song below for every situation.

I’ve been told I have an eclectic taste in music, so chances are, some songs you’ll love, some you might hate, but there should be something here for everyone. Please don’t judge the list from one song! These songs aren’t about subject matter, they’re about the sound and how it makes me feel, which is what qualifies them for this list.

There’s so many to chose from though, so there should be a mixture of famous songs and lesser known efforts, but chances are you won’t know them all, and if you do, we should probably be friends. I’m fairly sure I could make a second list if anyone wants, but for now I’ll stick with 100 songs.

So, in sort of/kind of order, with some links to their respective videos (if they work) please enjoy!

100. Radhira Vekaria & Adam Drake- Now

Just a nice, summer song to start off with. You might have heard this on some adverts, and honestly lots of their other stuff is perfect for this particular list.

99. Vic Mensa- We could be free

A chill, relaxing song with some great singing and some choice rap verses.

98. Angels & Airwaves- Everything’s magic

A divisive band, I don’t know many people who actually enjoy Tom Delougne’s little side project, when he first split from Blink 182, but revisiting eight years later, I’ve come to appreciate them alot more now that i’m not comparing them. This song just reminds me of summer nights out camping.

97. Iggy Pop- The Passenger

A great song, especially when you’re on the move.

96. The Heydaze- Hurt like hell

A light, cheerful sounding little number with a depressing but cute video. That’s a weird combination of adjectives.

95. Lucas Nord Ft. Tove Lo- Run On love

An upbeat, dance-y track. The video has some great visuals, although a sad underlying story as well, so I guess this is going to be a recurring theme.

94. Zed Bias- Neighbourhood 

Not the best song in the world, but dang, is it uplifting. I feel good, good, good, I feel good yes wonderful good.

93. KC & The Sunshine Band- Give it Up

Now we’re hitting some classics! This song just makes me unbelievably happy, and I hope it makes you happy too.

92. Four Year Strong- Listen, do you smell something? 

Probably should have prefaced this video with the fact that, although I listen to a huge mix of shit, my one true love is pop-punk, and FYS are one of my faves. This song in particular, makes me feel invincible, I mean just listen to that chorus!

91. WATERS- Hiccups

I’ll admit I only found this band because I thought the lead singer was Jimmi Simpson, or one of the McPoyle brothers from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but still a fantastic song and great to sing along to.

90. Donovan- Catch The Wind

The beautiful thing about music is of course it’s subjectivity. Catch The Wind can often be portrayed as a sad song, but it makes me feel hopeful, which is why it is here.

89. Beck- Sexx Laws

I’ll be real with you, this mostly just reminds me of Futurama, but also of summer.

88. The Kinks- Summer Afternoon

One of my favourite bands ever, plus it’s about summer. It’s good.

87. David Gray- Please Forgive Me

I love this song, I think it’s soothing. That’s all.

86. The Mountain Goats- Heel Turn 2

Not a song particularly linked with travelling, per say, but a cool summery sound that gives me chills.

85. The Blackout Allstars- I like it like that

Man, I can’t listen to this song without wanting to dance.

84. The Animals- House of Rising sun

Man, I love that riff. A song that fills me with excitement and mystery, which is what travelling should be about! (Probably)

83. The Lumineers- Ho Hey

Pretty sure everyone’s heard this one already, but I just think it’s a nice tune.

82. The Drums- Best Friend

Yet another happy song about something pretty sad, so I’m sure it will illicit some sort of emotion from you. It’s just a lovely sounding song though.

81. The Stranglers- Golden Brown

So we’ve had songs about death and break up, why not drugs? Still, a fantastic song, I love listening to it while moving, especially.

80. Linkin Park- Shadow of the day

RIP Chester, your songs had a huge impact on my life. This is a quiet, solemn song that I listen to when I want to reflect on life, and really, when is better to do that then when you’re travelling?

79. Belle & Sebastian- Get me away from here i’m dying

Truly a song for those who feel trapped in a 9-5 job. It worries me about just how much I relate to this song.

78. ALPINE- Foolish

Just a nice summery song that makes me think of city nights.

77. The Kinks- Village Green Preservation Society

Does this remind you of Hot Fuzz? If so, good. If not, it’s just a nice, upbeat little tune.

76. Joni Mitchell- Big yellow taxi

I’ll be honest, I also love the Counting Crows & Vanessa Carlton cover (The early 2000’s were when I shined, man) but how could I not go for the O.G, Joni Mitchell? Upbeat and just a nice listen.

75. The Nightwatchman- The Road I must travel

If you ever get a chance to see Tom Morello live, definitely do, he’s been a part of many great bands, and his solo effort is much the same.

74.  Smashing Pumpkins- Perfect

Just another nice sounding song, by your homeboy Billy Corrigan, front-man of Smashing Pumpkins who actually kind of looks like a pumpkin. Still a great tune though.

73. Eels- Fresh Feeling

You may have heard this from a hundred different sitcoms. Also does the intro remind anyone else of the PS3 start up sound? Remember that?

72. Lauryn Hill- Every Ghetto, every city

As someone who loves Hip-hop, I find there’s only a few female rappers I like, and that number has now decreased since I’ve been listening to Lauryn Hill because no-one can compare. The epitome of funk, with some great vocals.

71. Carole King- I feel the Earth move

A song that’ll get you moving, it fills me with determination and purpose. Plus it just sounds cool so y’know.

70. Aesop Rock- Daylight

Alright, let’s get some more  Hip-hop going! Aesop Rock is one of the greatest lyricists still working, and I love most of his work, and this is one of my favourites. It’s chill and resonates well with me.

69. Jackson 5- I want you back

Is this not the most cheerful song ever? I think it’s making a bit of resurgence because of Guardians of the Galaxy, and why not? If I listened to this every day I think I would just be a happier person in general.

68. Less Than Jake- The science of selling yourself short

Here’s a bit of ska for ya, I love it, super upbeat.

67. De La Soul- Three is the magic number

I love the rough sound and the upbeat beat, it’s just a great song!

66. Toots and the Mayhals- 54-46 was my number

Another happy-sounding song for the summer.

65. BØRNS – 10,000 Emerald Pools

Super relaxing, great sound.

64. Modest Mouse-Autumn Beds

Obviously, kind of an autumnal tune here, but still a nice one.

63. Radical Face- Welcome Home

Probably could have filled most of this list with Radical Face songs, so expect some more to pop up on this list. I think this has been on some adverts so you might have heard it before. It’s just a great sounding song.

62. Catfish and the Bottlemen- Homesick

Man, I love this song. I love how it has a serene start and evolves into something so much more.

61. The Dead South- In Hell I’ll be in good company

This is one of the catchiest songs ever, every-time I listen to it, I have it stuck in my head for weeks after. The perfect song to listen to when you’re somewhere dry or remote.

60. The Vaccines- If you wanna

A fun, adrenaline pumping song. Great for when you’re moving.

59. Modest Mouse- Ocean breathes salty

Obviously brings to mind the beach/ocean/sea whatever, but just a great sounding song.

58. Eels- Mr E’s Beautiful Blues

From one of my favourite albums ever, this is just such a great summer song.

57. Oasis- Half the World away

Another methodical one I think, quite fitting while you’re off gallivanting for a bit of reflection.

56. Queen- Don’t stop me now

My all time favourite Queen song. It’s on here because well, you don’t always need something quiet and melodic, sometimes you just wanna get pumped, and for me, this is the song that fulfils that quota and then some.

55. War- Low Rider

Just a great sounding song, perfect for rides in the sun.

54. Smashing Pumpkins- Tonight, Tonight

I love this song so much. It just fills me with a sense of whimsical wonder, and I hope you’ll feel that too.

53. Biffy Clyro-God & Satan

Just a relaxing as hell song.

52. Vanessa Carlton- A thousand miles

My go-to karaoke song, although nowadays it feels like every-time I play it someone shouts out “WHITE CHICKS!” although I try to ignore them. My hatred for that movie is almost as strong as my love for this song (It’s immense)

51. Say Anything- I want to know your plans

One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite bands, and also the intro to my video series, Unbound. It’s peaceful, great sounding and the ending just fulfils me. Wait, does that sound too gay? Well it’s true.

50.  Men at Work- Down Under

All i’m gonna say is, if there’s a list like this and it DOESN’T have this song, don’t trust it. Also realised I have never seen the video before this list and it might just be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, and I once saw a dog on a skateboard.

49. The Chainsmokers-Closer

Not for everyone, even someone like me who never really listens to “charty” music like this, but for some reason I love this song, even though I keep hearing it everywhere. Good for summer drives or sitting in your kitchen by yourself drinking away your loneliness (I would assume)

48. Inc- The Place

One of the most relaxing songs ever. Listen to it at the pool, or something equally relaxing, like murder, if that works for you.

47. Dido- No Freedom

Dido’s back, you guys! Oh wait, this song came out in 2013. Well, it’s still pretty good.

46. American Authors- What we live for

Again, alot of these guys I could have put here, check out Best day of my life, probably their most famous song. But this is a good’un, show it some love.

45. Cat Stevens- Here comes my Baby

This song sounds like almost tangible sunshine in my ears, I think it’s pretty great.

44. Clean Bandit- Rather be

Probably the antithesis of a travel song for many, and I think it’s pretty obvious why-great sound and uh, it’s kinda about travel? You dumb-butt.

43. Paper Lions- Travelling

Well, I mean, it says travelling right there. That’s it, I don’t even know the song. But it doesn’t matter.

(That’s a joke I love this song)

42. Max Romeo- Chase the Devil

Alot of you won’t know the original song, but you’ll know that sample (Thank you, prodigy). Well it’s just another chill one, so sit on a beach, smoke a Doobius Hagrid (If it’s legal whether you are, we don’t advocate reckless behaviour here at Unbound) and watch your troubles sweep by.

41. Jimmy Eat World- The Middle

You know and ,love this song already you liar, don’t you pretend me you don’t.

40. Say Anything- A walk through Hell

Yay, Say Anything is back! So this comes from one of my top 5 albums of all time, but it was a secret track on the special edition, so I went many, many years without knowing it’s existence, until I went travelling and heard it accidentally and got instantly addicted.

39. Earth, Wind & Fire- September

If you don’t move a part of your body to this song I will just assume you’re either deaf, dead inside or a quadriplegic.

38. The Specials- Message to you Rudy

A bit more old-school with the ska this time, from maybe one of the greatest ska bands ever. Of course, saying a ska band is better than others is like saying your dog’s diarrhoea wasn’t as bad today as yesterday. Yes I am mostly talking about Reel Big Fish.

37. Fountains of Wayne- All kinds of Time

Yes, it is by the same guys who did Stacey’s Mom, and this is the reason I will fight anyone who says they are a one hit wonder, of course you might not have heard it unless you watched ANY american TV show in 2008-2010, I think it was in scrubs, the OC, One Tree Hill and god knows what else.

36. Motion City Soundtrack- Fell in love without you (Acoustic)

This is a sunset song. The original is fantastic, but this has an emotional punch unlike many of their other songs.

35. Joe Brooks- Superman

As much as it breaks my mainly image to admit this, this is a catchy as hell song and he kind of makes me question my sexuality.

34. Feeder- Forget about Tomorrow

There are so many choices here, I should have just linked the greatest hits album stream.

33. Blur- To the End

So, as of writing this, the drummer of Blur is actually a Labour representative at Norfolk County Council, where I used to work. Nothing to do with the song obviously, the song’s great, just thought it was weird.

32. The Wombats- Moving to New York

I tried to stay away from songs representing actual destinations, but I love this song so much, it gets me pumped.

31. The Libertines- Don’t look back into the sun

Is it okay to no longer being ashamed of liking The Libertines now? Well, regardless of much a shit Pete is, this is a great summer song.

30. Noah and the Whale- 5 Years Time

This reminds me of summer as a teenager. Try not to whistle along, I dare you. Its just, it’s just so….HAPPY.

29. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes- Home

I’m not sure how many songs on the list have the word ‘Home’ within the title, but I think it’s a lot. Anyway, this is a cheerful tune that might pump some happiness into your otherwise dreary existence.

28. Atmosphere- Sunshine

Atmosphere, my absolute hands-down No.1 favourite Hip Hop artist. Each song tells a story, this time one of over-coming a hangover and discovering the beauty of the world. I relate to that pretty much every other day (I’m not actually an alcoholic)

27. Temper Trap- Sweet Disposition

If a July sunset could be summarised into one song, it would be this. You’ve probably heard it half a hundred times on half a hundred different shows and adverts, but if you didn’t know the name of it, this is for you!

26. The Pharcyde-Runnin’

Okay, now my second favourite Hip-hop artists. I love this song so much, it’s chill and somehow empowering.

25. A Great Big World- Already Home

There’s that word again. Just a beautifully written and performed song about long distance love.

24. All Saints- Pure Shores

Here is is, arguably the most travel-y song out of the bunch. If you were going to ignore the rest and listen to only this one, I would not blame you chum. You’ve seen The Beach though, right?

23. Houston Calls- I Fancy abroad

A big regret of my life is discovering this band juuuust as they split up, so I’m trying to keep the flame alive. I love this song, it’s light tone and the lyrics, it’s great. If you like them, there are still albums circulating you can pick up, they are well worth the listen.

22. Raptures of Lovers- Talk to Me

I love me some Lo-Fi, and this song is one of my favourites. It’s just such a happy sounding song!

21. Foster The People-Pumped Up Kicks

Well, we haven’t had a happy sounding song about dark subject matter in ages have we? I love this song, check out the remix with Childish Gambino as well, arguably much better.

20. Weezer- Island In the Sun


19. Coldplay-Ink

Do people still like Coldplay? Well I do, so that’s irrelevant. Here’s a song of theirs I don’t think gets enough love. Great sound, completely serene.

18. Childish Gambino- California

A bit of a weird one for some of you, but man, I love these sounds. Just great.

17. R Kelly- Ignition (Remix)

Might be a weird one for some of you, I’m putting this on here purely because of the amount of friends I made playing this in hostels and such (Mostly English people, if that says anything) of course, alot of people apparently hate this too, so try not to mesh with those blasphemers.

16. The Hics- Cold Air

Another super relaxing one for the poolside or by the beach.

15. Toto- Africa

Well I couldn’t not put this on here, could I? What’re you, some sort of craz-yperson?

14. Red Hot Chilli Peppers- Road Trippin’

Again, another obvious choice. I will let you make you’re own assumptions for when this is best suited.

13. Lilly Allen-Ldn

I accidentally set this as my ringtone and now I’m keeping it. Lyrics are once again a little dark, but can you hear that chorus???!! (Apologies if you are deaf, but you’re on a page about music, genius)

12. Bob Dylan- The Times they are a-changin’

Don’t worry if this reminds you of Watchmen. A great sounding song, and again we get a little bit of reflection. Isn’t that nice?

11. Regina Spektor- Folding Chair

Again, a heck of a lot of songs to chose from, Us, Dusseldorf, all great to hear while travelling, but I love the jaunty piano.

10. The Smiths- This Charming Man

This song should be the soundtrack for every night out in a foreign city.

9. The Helio Sequence- Mr Tambourine Man

A cover of Bob Dylan, and a fantastic one. I assume, I don’t listen to much of Bobby D, and with covers like this, I’m not sure I need to.

8. Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties-’67 Cherry Red

Actually a side project of my all time favourite band (Don’t worry-we’ll get to them soon.) I actually discovered this song half way through my travels, and after listening to it about sixteen times, it broke me down into a puddle of tears in an airport, and this is from someone who’s usually so emotionally apathetic that I never normally cry, but all I wanted to do was hug my parents after hearing this, and I still listen to it almost every day.

7. Johnny Foreigner- Salt, Pepa & Spinderella

This is a rare case of a song that I fell in love with after the very first hearing, and I still listen to it constantly after almost ten years. It kind of makes me just want to run, and keep going. Until the song stops and I have to put it on repeat.

6. Urban Cone- Come Back to Me

I only discovered this song recently, and I’m in love with it. I get the feeling it’s the soundtrack to a hundred different ‘Travel-Videos’, and well there’s good reason for that.

5. VHS Collection- Waiting on the Summer

As you can imagine, this song is summer personified. Great sound, great vocals and chorus…ahhh, why can’t it be summer all the time? I guess it kind of feels like it is when I listen to this.

4. Allison Weiss- Over You

Allison Weiss is someone who deserves so much more recognition, she is insanely talented. While this may be a bittersweet song about heartbreak, the feel of the song just makes me think of summer nights, although really, any song by her could be on this list.

3. Frank Turner- The Road

Frank Turner has always seemed a little divisive to me, like people either despise him or are one step away from going down on him, but maaaaan this song gets me pumped. Imediatley after listening to it I just want to pack my bags and book a flight the heck out of wherether I am.

2. Radical Face- Wandering

Hooray! Radical Face is back! This song…this song hit me in the gut as soon as I heard it. It’s like someone cracked open my brain and made a sweet song about how I feel being back home. It’s beautiful, serene and irresponsibly powerful. If you’ve ever felt lost after coming home, this song will let you feel like that’s not something exclusive, and hopefully it might help you like it helped me.

1. The Wonder Years- Came Out Swinging

Well here it is, my all-time favourite song from my all-time favourite band. I know we’ve had some weird choices on this list, and you might be confused why I think this is the best travel song, when most other people would choose something more chilled, like the above list was full of. Well, it’s because this song saved my life.

Listening to this song one day on the walk home from work, something just awoke within me, some sort of resilient fire, a desire to keep living and put a giant middle finger up to depression. This is my power song, what I need to listen to, to recharge. I listen to it almost every single day and have been for the past 2-3 years. I even put my travel video when I came back to this song, before it got taken down for copyright. Because travel is a miraculous privilege, but it’s not all fun. Sometimes you need a power song to keep you pushing through, and if you feel lost, maybe this could be yours too.

Phew! We made it! Thank you so much for making it to the end, I hope I’ve opened your eyes to some amazing songs out there, although I’m sure there are some you might dispute with me. Why not leave a comment, tell me what songs you think don’t deserve to be on there and what you would replace it with personally.

Thanks again, I hope you have a great day/life!

Chris xo

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