As the saying goes, music is a universal language. For those who love to travel, it’s a powerful tool to optimize the traveling experience and connect with a destination on a deeper level. People tend to focus on foods and sight-seeing, but don’t overlook music or you will miss out. You’ll be a better tourist and have a better experience, too.
Whether that be listening to music originating from your travel destination beforehand, crafting the perfect playlist, or scoping out the local music scene, music can be a tool to more fully immerse yourself in a culture.
Listening to local music
First things first, do some research. Make the effort to learn more about the music most popular in the country you’re headed to. Look into the traditional music of the area and listen to what’s important to locals. Though you’re just a visitor, you can experience a culture through the music it has to offer. I just traveled to Spain on a school trip — think flamenco and classical guitar.
You can also go mainstream. I know for sure my classmates threw on a Rosalía playlist on repeat. A quick Google search will tell you some of the popstars or fan-favorites from a country — you never know; maybe you’ll discover your next Spotify top artist.
Building a travel playlist
Playlists are the soundtrack to your experiences — especially if you’re going solo. Something I always remember is the song I was listening to when my plane landed or what lyrics I was bopping along to as I rushed to pick up my suitcase. Take all that pre-travel eagerness and use it to go full-on playlisting mode leading up to your trip. Curate a set of songs that gets you in the mood from local artists. Of course, incorporate the songs you learned about from the country. Maybe take off the headphones and experience the natural sounds once you start exploring, though.
Finding live music on your trip
Whether it’s street performances, cultural events, or concerts, basking in the sounds of a performance is a great way to hang with the locals and learn something about what music means to them. Sing and sway the night away — a good beat and powerful vocals surpass language barriers. You can experience the euphoria of a concert and feel the bass, connecting with other concertgoers without the need to speak. Or while wandering, if you hear music nearby, make the effort to check it out.
Remember to be respectful: Even if you’re not the hugest fan of something you hear abroad, you’re just a visitor. Appreciate the music and just move on. Though really, you’re probably going to love it.
So pop in some earbuds and get going — you can learn a lot by listening. If you’re all set to explore a country, don’t forget to explore its music along the way and build the soundtrack to your travel experience.