The 16 Best Travel Songs of all Time

2.79min read

Published 19 January 2016


The theme of travel is a constant in music history and our own lives (who didn’t sing The Wheels on the Bus as a kid?) Joking aside, travel inspires, motivates and makes us dream. No wonder songwriters infuse lyrics with place names and faraway lands. This list of travel songs will get you in the travelling mood (or get stuck in your head as “earworms” as you embark on your travels – we apologize in advance.)

Warning: these songs are catchier than Taylor Swift with a cold.

1. London Calling – The Clash

The perfect London anthem, you might catch yourself singing it as soon as you depart for London Heathrow Airport. To me, it’s like a pub pint—no trip to London is complete without it!

2. Aeroplane – Red Hot Chili Peppers

You can substitute RHCP’s Road Trippin’ depending on your mode of travel. (Heading to the Golden State? Add Danny California and Californication to your Chilis download.)

3. One Night in Bangkok – Murray Head

Ever booked a trip to Thailand, then quoted lyrics of this song to your travel agent, ‘I get my kicks above the waistline, Sunshine’? Or, maybe that was just me.

4. Istanbul not Constantinople – They Might Be Giants

I animatedly began singing this playful ditty as soon as I booked my trip to Istanbul, Turkey. And yes, I looked like a turkey doing it.

5. Africa – Toto

“As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti” is a pretty inspirational description to cue up on your African travels playlist.

6. Empire State of Mind- Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys

Jay Z’s dramatic cadences and Alicia Keys’ soaring crescendos match the energy and towering sights of the majestic city to which this song pays homage. Play this as you step out in NYC and your state of mind will be, “Yeahhh! I’m really here!” If you’re more of a traditionalist, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York will do the trick.

7. Come Fly With Me – Frank Sinatra

Speaking of Ol’ Blue Eyes, this is a classic that I’m sure our grandparents sang while boarding a plane (if they were lucky enough to) and still retains its retro charms.

8. I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys

Here’s another nod to a great East Coast city (although this one might be more anger-inducing than the awe-inspiring New York themed songs. If it does agitate you, replace this with a tune by the soft rock band Boston.)

9. Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

The lyrics of this melody spark the imagination about distant places. The sound of his voice and accompanying ukulele will transport you to Hawaii or a peaceful Polynesian island.

10. Leaving on a Jet Plane – Chantal Kreviazuk

This is one of many re-makes of the original by Peter, Paul & Mary. Figured I’d throw in some Canadian content, not that this blog is regulated by the CRTC or anything! It’s a nice, soothing version as you ascend in a jet plane.

11. Kokomo – Beach Boys

Maybe this blog should be called ‘catchy’, not ‘best’ travel songs. While there is no such place as Kokomo, there is of course Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas… and just like that, the song gets in your head, and like those destinations, is hard to leave. We just hope our travel agents don’t have this on a mental loop every time they book Caribbean vacations.

12. Rio – Duran Duran

They were actually singing about a woman named Rio. But they did say “she dances on the sand,” which makes me think of Rio de Janeiro, and the word Rio gets this song in my head. The same band’s Planet Earth also fits the theme, if you’re curating an ‘80s travel playlist.

13. Down Under – Men at Work

Speaking of the ‘80s, here’s another awesome, timeless track! A Vegemite sandwich never sounded so good. A perfect soundtrack to your Australian travels.

14. Around the World – Daft Punk

Procrastinating packing? Play this catchy song while you roll n’ fold and it will be sure to get you movin’ and groovin’ and in travel mode, promise.

15. No Cars Go – Arcade Fire

This song fires up your engines and a desire to see new places (particularly ones you can’t drive to.)

16. Roam – B-52s

The upbeat joy of this song makes one want to get up and go! Not to mention lyrics like, Fly the great big sky, see the great big sea / Kick through continents, bustin’ boundaries / Take it hip to hip, rock it through the wilderness / Around the world, the trip begins with a kiss” Go ahead and roam.

If these songs have you whistling a new tune, maybe it’s time to take off somewhere– contact a Flight Centre travel agent for the best travel deals. If that’s not in the cards, download these songs to get you in the wanderlust spirit.

Do you have a favourite travel song to add to this list? We’d love to know what it is!

Flight Centre

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