10 Travel Songs to Inspire Your Summer Playlist

Posted on June 1, 2010 by

Summer is firing up my spirits as I get busy drawing up travel plans for the next few months. This week’s sponsored post features a list of classic travel songs that not only fire up your wanderlust but also give you inspiration for your next summer holiday!

Running out of ideas for where to spend summer this year? Musicians have sung about their favorite destinations for decades, and the great songs over the years are as good a source of inspiration for holiday ideas as any other. Take a look at these top tunes to help pick your next holiday abroad.

1. Rio – Duran Duran

Rio de JaneiroFlickr photo by SlapBCN

Dancing on the sand has never been the same since Duran Duran captured their feelings about Rio de Janeiro. The song was written as an ode to band’s experiences while on tour in Brazil in the 80s.

2. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley

Las VegasFlickr photo by Stuck in Customs

Any destination which is recommended by the King is well worth a visit. Sin City lives up to its reputation with one of the best nightlife’s in the world. Long live Las Vegas indeed.

3. Barcelona – Freddie Mercury

BarcelonaFlickr photo by MorBCN

Commissioned for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Freddie Mercury combined his own unique vocal talent with the excellent operatic voice of Montserrat Caballé. The song was one of Mercury’s most successful hits without Queen and a brilliant advertisement for the Spanish city.

4. America – Razorlight

Pike Peak Mountain, U.S.Flickr photo by Beverly and Pack

America was the title track from Razorlight’s second album of the same name. When there’s, “nothing on the TV, nothing on the radio,” – take a holiday to America.

5. Vienna – Ultravox

ViennaFlickr photo by em-si

Synthesizer pop at it’s very best – Vienna combines a classic piano melody with 80s synthesizer backing. The song took its title from the 1948 film The Third Man, which is based around Austria’s capital city.

6. New York New York – Frank Sinatra

clip_image014Flickr photo by Andrew Mace

Frank Sinatra’s classic tune has inspired untold holidays to America. Millions of tourists flock to the Big Apple to see the Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building and various renditions of this song by street performers.

7. Stranger in Moscow – Michael Jackson

MoscowFlick photo by Eldar

One of MJ’s slightly less well-known songs, Stranger in Moscow achieved critical success but failed in terms of record sales in comparison to his big hits like Billie Jean, Black or White and Thriller. The song taps into Jackson’s loneliness during the 90s as he toured Russia.

8. Africa – Toto

clip_image018Flickr photo by Swiv

Easily the best known song of Toto, Africa was a massive hit in 1982. As a holiday destination Africa is a pretty big place to explore, but the Serengeti National Park mentioned in the song is in Tanzania. Perfect for a far-flung safari.

9. Amarillo – Tony Christie

clip_image020Flickr photo by Bones

Amarillo is a city in Texas, with a population of around 200,000 people. It is largely unextraordinary but should you need to find the way to Amarillo, it’s in between Albuquerque and Oklahoma on Interstate 40.

10. Down Under – Men At Work

SydneyFlickr photo by Lih Rom

Going down under to Australia is a unique experience, as the lyrics of Men at Work have already pointed out. Look out for thunder, chunder and vegemite sandwiches in equal proportions. A marvellous country, with one of the world’s friendliest populations.


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

22 Responses to “10 Travel Songs to Inspire Your Summer Playlist”

  1. Jay June 1, 2010 3:34 pm #

    Great Article, has deffinitely given me some inspiration… will be singing new york new york all the way to time square..tk care guys

  2. Jane June 1, 2010 3:38 pm #

    What a great list. I'm humming them all together in my head now! Barcelona might be my fave on the list…

    • admin June 2, 2010 12:54 am #

      Thanks Jane! Yeh I can’t seem to get New York New York outta my head now…

  3. Kate June 2, 2010 3:34 am #

    How about Holiday in Cambodia by the Dead Kennedys? Maybe not terrible atmospheric but it was a blast to be playing it in a hotel in deepest Rattanakiri ;o)

  4. Difly June 2, 2010 8:19 am #

    Yes and how could you have missed out Hotel California?!

    • admin June 2, 2010 4:31 pm #

      Oh yeh, that’s my fav! How could we forget that?!

  5. Lomax June 2, 2010 3:32 pm #

    er, Freddie Mercury died in 1991. Not quite sure how this figures into the chronology of No.3

    • Nellie June 2, 2010 3:45 pm #

      yeh he died but that doesnt mean the song should be forgotten. When I was in Zanzibar, I could see that the Tanzanians missed him alot. The list isn't draw up in any sort of order. What's your favorite travel song by the way?

  6. Spencer Spellman June 3, 2010 3:40 pm #

    Toto, brilliance

  7. Lori June 3, 2010 12:22 pm #

    Wow, what a great selection, Nellie! I just made a playlist in my computer wit these songs! Wonderful!

  8. Michael Hodson June 6, 2010 5:22 pm #

    was on a 3 day Uluru guided tour (as the oldest person on the trip – only person that went to high school when Men at Work were fairly big) and they played "Down Under" all the time on the truck stereo system and dedicated it to me every time. Somehow. . . I still love that song.

    • Nellie June 6, 2010 8:11 pm #

      When I was on a 3-day hiking tour in the Kakadu (Northern Territory), our guide played the same song, 'Down Under', the whole time as well! Ha!

  9. David Whitley July 2, 2010 5:10 pm #

    There are certain songs I always associate with certain places because they were on all the time while I was there, rather than they're about the place. Drops of Jupiter by Train is Sydney, anything by Scooter is Germany, Burn Your Name by Powderfinger is the Australian Outback etc.

    But in the vein of the topic – how about Do You Know The Way To San Jose (Dionne Warwick), London Calling by The Clash, Turning Japanese by The Vapors (I think – and yes, I do know what the song is about :) ) and Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple (it's about Montreux in Switzerland).

  10. Jomar Lipon June 12, 2011 2:51 pm #

    You should include the song Coming Home to Manila for Philippines

  11. shawna August 9, 2012 10:45 pm #

    I hate to be that person, but Rio is about the first time they came to America. They even mention the Rio Grande in the song.

  12. Tom October 24, 2012 3:38 am #

    Great post music and travel go so well together – I love it when musicians write about their experiences of travel – although one point Rio by Duran Duran isn't actually about Brazil at all but this is a common misconception :)

  13. LasVegas August 19, 2013 10:31 am #

    So true :) I was humming down under al the time while in Australia.. They really hit a spot


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