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12 Amazing Songs That Inspired Us to Travel

When we polled AFAR staffers about the tunes that best capture their travel inspirations, memories, and ruminations, the results ran the gamut from country and pop to hard rock and classic folk. The 12 selections, annotated below, are so strong that we’ve compiled them into another AFAR Media Spotify playlist: AFAR’s Favorite Travel Songs, Vol. 1. Click on over and check out our eclectic soundtrack, which just might fuel your own travel dreams. And come back to our Spotify page for more. 

I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash is a personal favorite because it’s Johnny Cash and because one day I’m going to learn me all the lyrics by heart! Makes me want to get in a car and tour the U.S.A. every time I hear it.—Mary Garvin, sales director, AFAR Collection 

Death Cab for Cutie’s “Little Wanderer” addresses missing your loved ones while on the road, with a thread of technology communication issues thrown in to modernize the theme.—Lou LaGrange, director, AFAR Custom

“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake always plays through my head as I’m heading to the airport. I travel so much that at times, this song feels like my anthem.—Jen Murphy, hotels editor 

My favorite exhortation to travel comes from Pearl Jam. The song “Breath” includes the lyrics “I suggest you step out on your porch…Run away my son. See it all. See the world.

“If I knew where it was, I would take you there…there’s much more than this…see the world.” Unlike a lot of lyrics by my favorite band, it’s pretty direct. Some airline should license it and put it in a commercial. Don’t tell Eddie Vedder I said that.—Jeremy Saum, executive editor

Jackson 5, “Going Back to Indiana.” I remember when I was young, Indiana was somewhere I’d never been. When Michael Jackson sang about going back, I got jealous. Early wanderlust!—Barry Brown, executive director, sales

Rusted Root, “Send Me On My Way.” Not only is it upbeat and fun, but because I listened to it during my travels it reminds me of my adventures through the Galapagos Islands.—Samantha Juda, audience marketing specialist

Belle & Sebastian, “Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying.” Any time I start feeling antsy and stationary, I put this song on, and it is almost enough to embody traveling; I am able to escape the repetition of my day-to-day.—Michaela Trimble, AFAR brand manager

I love how Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” describes the in-between moments of travel—looking out the window, stopping for a cigarette, “counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike,” and searching for meaning.—Alex Palomino, photo assistant

British folk-rocker Richard Thompson writes ballads that break your heart even as they skewer the absurd foibles of human behavior. “From Galway to Graceland” tells the poignant if pathetic tale of an Elvis-obsessed woman who journeys “from the west coast of Ireland to west Tennessee…to be with the King.” Travel doesn’t get any sadder.—Derk Richardson, senior editor

I love “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. There’s something about it that transports me to somewhere in the Smoky Mountains—dive bars, friendly Southern folk, and forests. It’s more about being a trucker, but hey, that’s technically a kind of travel too, right?—Danielle Walsh, associate editor

I first heard “Return of the Grievous Angel” by Gram Parsons when I was living in Poland, of all places. I’d never been to the United States, never even considered going there, and had no idea what calico was or whether Cheyenne even existed—but the song spoke to me. There’s a real sense of expansiveness and adventure—“’Cause I headed West to grow up with the country”—but also of frustration with life on the road and of pining for home. I think this sums up a duality of travel nicely—and, no matter how many roads you go down, down, down, they all lead to the same place in the end.—Nick Rowlands, guides editor

James Taylor, “Carolina On My Mind.” I feel like James Taylor and Suzanne Vega were my own childhood soundtracks, and I had a roommate once in London who said his parents moved to North Carolina because of this song.—Lily Soysal, marketing and special projects director

Want more? Check out the 17 books that inspired us to travel!

Photo by Malinda Boody Nichols