I prepare for my next travel adventure the way expectant mothers prepare for their newborns. I book my trip several months in advance. I buy pretty, new things. I regularly take out my new gear and stare at it, eagerly anticipating the day I can use it. I read books to learn about the location’s history and people. I practice pack weeks in advance to make sure everything will fit and assess whether I need anything else. I purchase a journal with a printed cover aptly themed for my destination.
One of my favorite pre-vacation rituals is to research the top songs in that country and spend the weeks leading up to my travels listening to them. A couple years ago I was headed to Ecuador and learned that a little ditty called “Despacito” was popular there. I instantly loved this song before it became a summer staple on the U.S. airwaves.
My listening paid off by helping me connect with the locals. In practicing my Spanish with the cab driver on the way to my hotel, I was initially discouraged when I asked him “¿Estás de Quito?” and he replied “No speak English.” Curse my gringa accent! We rode in silence. About ten minutes later the song Despacito came on the radio and I exclaimed “¡A mi me gusto esta canción! Es my favorito.” The cab driver perked up and we chatted the whole rest of the way to my hotel.
Here are some of my favorite music discoveries either before or during my trips:
India – Bollywood EVERYTHING. My favorites include:
India Waale from Happy New Year
Say Shava Shava from Kabhi Khushi, Kabhie Gham
Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire or anything by A.R. Rahman
Chammak Challo from Ra. One
Ganpat from Shootout at Lokhandwala
Gallan Goodiyaan from Dil Dhadakne Do
Luis Fonsi – Despacito and beyond
Hey DJ by CNCO
Tu defecto es mio by No Te Va A Gustar
Quien me ibe a decir by David Bisbal
Que Vida la Mia by Reik
Celebra la Vida by Axel
Home among the gumtree by John Williamson
Waterfalls by Bag Raiders
Nentori by Arilena Ara
Yed El Henna by Fnaire
Ygoulou Mabghaw by H-Kayne
Hayat by Aymane Serhani
Johnny Clegg – Scatterlings of Africa, Asimbonago, Spirit is the Journey.
Tuks – 525,600 Minutes is an amazing rendition of the Broadway showtune.
Nizalwa by Thandiswa
Shosholoza byLadysmith Black Mambazo
Sombao by Gloria Bosman
Songs for the desert
Hard Sun by Eddie Vedder
Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga
R. Carlos Nakai – all of it
I’m headed to Egypt and Jordan next. What should I be listening to get into the spirit of the journey?