Soundtrack to my life – road trip and travel tunes

road trip and travel tunes

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How does music you help you remember your holidays?

For me some tunes can really take me back to a trip I took, even a long time ago. Road trips especially need a few great tunes for singing along to and they tend to stick in your head. These days we have a rolling medley of Mother Goose nursery rhymes (arghh – Wheels on the Bus!) and Yo Gabba Gabba (much better) thrown in with a bit of sleep inducing classical but over the years the music I’ve listened to has provided that sound track to my trip. I can still remember the sights, smells and sounds of my travels when I hear certain tunes.

Highlights of my road trip and travel tunes history

road trip and travel tunes

Grampians, Australia (1985) – Aha – ‘Take on Me’

Our Grade 6 camp was a long 5 hours bus ride to the Grampians national park. I reckon we listened to Take On Me about 200 times there and back and wondered whether Morten Harkett would be boyfriend material. We definitely belted it out as we looked at the view from the Pinnacle walk. Simple times. Great tune. Awesome video too – although clearly no iPads then..

Canberra and Jervis Bay, Australia (1985/6) – Neil Simon ‘Graceland’

Later that year we drove to Canberra and Jervis Bay as a family and were subjected to John Farnham’s The Voice on loop in between Graceland by Paul Simon. Honestly it was a long time until I could listen to Graceland again but it’s such a great album. As I know all the words and don’t mind a singalong it’s back on rotation these days. The Australian coast and Canberra are about as far removed from the dusty plains of Africa as you can get but somehow those tunes will always remind me of that trip. I can still smell the sea air and hear my brothers and cousins quoting Monty Python as we traipsed through the rainforest and down sand dunes.

jervis bay

 California, USA (1990) – The Smiths ‘The Queen is Dead’ & Pixies’ ‘Surfer Rosa’ & ‘Doolittle’

This trip warrants 3 albums because I was plugged into my TAPE* walkman the whole time. I wallowed in my teenage angst for half the trip from San Francisco to LA immersing myself in Morrissey’s maudlin lyrics and (more importantly to me) Johnny Marr’s fabulous riffs. Once again the soundtrack had very little to do with the Californian seaside vibe. I only need to hear a few bars of Panic and it reminds me of the hilly streets of San Francisco. Weird I know but that’s how it goes with songs. *Jeez, that is old technology these days. Archaic!!

Our road trip took us from san Francisco to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon down to LA. At a Walmart somewhere in the middle of the Arizona desert I discovered the Pixies Surfer Rosa and Doolittle albums and was transfixed from then on. Slightly more uplifting than The Smiths, the tunes fit the landscape to me and broke me from a fixation on British music. To this day, Kim Deal’s vocals and the thrashy guitars remain among my favourite tunes.


Byron Bay (2001) – Robbie Williams and Jamiroquai’s ‘A Funk Odyssee’

We drove pretty fast on the way up to Byron Bay in Bren’s convertible. It was an epic holiday full of ocean swimming, beach cricket and amazing feasts. We started off on our road trip through outback New South Wales blaring out the tunes of the day. Bren is one of my besties and has mostly different tastes to me when it comes to music but we managed to find some middle ground. That’s quite important when you have a 12 hour drive ahead of you! And you really want these to be fist pumping and a rousing sing-a-long tunes. Robbie Williams can be relied upon for those but I think it was Jamiroquai that we’ll always remember that trip for. What ever happened to that guy anyway?


Fiji (2006) The Killers – ‘Hot Fuss’

Just before I met my husband I went on a fabulous trip to Fiji with some special friends. In between catching ferries around islands, lounging around the pool and snorkelling in the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean we found time for cocktails and tunes. This trip will forever remind me of The Killers’ album Hot Fuss. Who knows whether the album was conceived in a tropical climate. I suspect not. But now it reminds me of cava, emergency loo stops in the dark of a tropical night and laughing in hammocks.


I’ve had to cut this post back quite a bit to be a “highlights” package – ha! I’ve had an amazing life full of trips. I feel so lucky. It’s been fun reminiscing and thanks to Spotify you can easily do that these days without trawling through dusty ads or even …. tapes!
< strong>How do you travel with music? What have been some of your road trip music highlights? And what what are you listening to these days? Release me from these kiddie tunes!

More from my Soundtrack to Your Life series

On David Bowie and heroes
The early years

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road trip and travel tunes

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