MUSIC: The Soundtrack of Your Next Vacation

Written by Nicole Enberg Vaz


It’s almost summer and that means travel season is upon us. Whether you are on a road trip or an international flight, travel brings challenges that we have all experienced. Travel delays? Check. Food poisoning? Check. Jet lag? Check. Unexplained allergic reaction from a sunburn? Check. Despite these hiccups, traveling is about adventure and discovery, which is why I make it a point to go on a big trip at least once a year.

I find that the moment before you board a plane or get behind the wheel, there is always a built-in opportunity to reflect on your life, try new things and open your mind and senses to a new environment. I personally love feeling like a real foreigner in another country, which is harder and harder to experience as an American these days. But whether you are heading to the nearest big city or slipping off to Europe for a week, a good trip just isn’t complete without a bomb ass playlist to carry you along the way. And obviously, Spotify is a game changer because yes, music is that important when you travel.

Certain songs mark very specific times in our life and help cement those moments in time. I find this is especially true when I’m traveling to a new country or returning to a place of particular significance to me. A great playlist has the ability to mark that special moment forever…a first kiss, a big surprise or a moment of pure joy.

I was recently in London visiting my sister. The trip was the ultimate opportunity to put together a random mix of songs that just made each day a little better as we bopped around her garden and hit the city. While I like to listen to everything, here are some of my recent Spring-to-Summer favorites that deserve a nice shout-out (in no particular order):

No Diggity by Chet Faker. Yes, the original version of this song is dope. But Faker’s sexy and mellow cover is even better than Blackstreet’s original 90s R&B hit. And yes, I rocked out to this jam during middle school dances like nobody’s business. Thankfully, this version doesn’t seem to conjure up any awkward pre-teen memories. Trust me, I can’t stop playing this on repeat — and I never say that about cover songs. Light some candles, open a bottle of wine, and decide for yourself.

California Soul by Marlena Shaw. A classic soul song that fills my being with the Southern California sunshine that I was fortunate enough to have in my life for 18 years. This beat will put a smile on your face, and probably your sister’s too.

Jealous (I Ain’t With It) by Chromeo. What’s not to like about Chromeo? I was fortunate enough to hit up their concert a couple years ago in NYC and I hope they come to Boston (my new hometown) sooner than later. This particular song is all pop – perfect when I need an energy boost after a long flight or a little extra motivation to crush an outdoor run.

Alone in Kyoto and Playground Love by Air. Two songs that remind me of studying abroad in London a million years ago. Both songs are featured in two of my favorite Sofia Coppola movies, Lost in Translation and The Virgin SuicidesAlone in Kyoto is a big musical component throughout Lost in Translation – one of the best films I’ve ever seen in how it depicts the complete sensory overload one experiences when you land in Japan for the first time. Air is a group that just makes me want to pack up and go somewhere far away. Perfect for a long train ride or car trip, I love their unique sound and uncanny ability to transport me back to a special time in my life.

So Nice (Summer Samba) by Astrud Gilberto. I love Samba music, especially in the Summer. Whether you are partying across the Atlantic or just sitting by a pool reading a book, this song and many others are the perfect accompaniment to warm weather and a good cocktail. I cook to a Samba mix frequently –  its relaxing, sexy and soothing. Plus, I personally feel that a little dancing in the kitchen makes my food taste better! I also have a soft spot for the great Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto & Stan Getz’s version of The Girl From Ipanema. And my brother Andrew also does a banging job singing this song in both Portuguese and English.

AC/DC and Billy Joel (anything!) Always loved AC/DC and I’m seeing Billy Joel in concert this summer which is going to be amazing. He’s truly a legend, a master song writer and performer. And his ballads resonate with all ages. I rocked out to Uptown Girl as a kid on my way to softball practice and I still listen to it (and all of his other hits) today.

Final Song by M0. I heard this song for the first time after I finished watching one of my favorite episodes of my guilty pleasure, HBO’s Girls. Season 5’s ‘The Panic in Central Park’ was so moving and emotional, depicting lost love and being in between two places in your life. I think this song does this too.  Final Song is a love letter of sorts that mixes pop, house and something else I can’t quite put my finger on. I’ve been feeling a little sentimental lately so maybe that’s why it resonates. Anyways, at first listen, its easy to see why some might dismiss this as a girly pop track, but honestly, who cares? I think it’s so much more.

Whether your next trip is to the grocery store down the street, a nearby lake or a remote beach overseas, just make sure to enjoy it. Life is an adventure and music definitely helps us get there. Create the soundtrack of your life. Happy summer listening!

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