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Ten Songs, Ten Different Travelling Mindsets

I’m addicted to music. Sounds are probably one of the first things that come to mind when I think of travelling, from the crowded markets in Latin America to busy European cafés, from the sound of silence in the Chilean desert to the sound of the wind blowing at the top of a mountain.

I always travel with music. Long hours spent in buses, trains, boats, planes and other taught me that music is a powerful catalysis. Overcoming fears, longing for a new beginning, getting the inspiration to see more… A song for every mindset.

Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving

This is the “I’m miss travelling” song. Fucked up lyrics, but great melody. Exactly what you need when you know it’s time for you to leave again.

Paradise City (Guns & Roses)

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home

Rage and anger are the key words. Is the grass greener on the other side? I don’t care much, as long as I get to experience the other side. A plea for a better life, a better world, a better us—isn’t it what travelling is about, change?

Le Vent l’Emportera (Noir Désir)

Je n’ai pas peur de la route
Faudrait voir, faut qu’on y goûte
Des méandres au creux des reins
Et tout ira bien là
Le vent nous portera

Pendant que la marée monte
Et que chacun refait ses comptes
J’emmène au creux de mon ombre
Des poussières de toi
Le vent les portera
Tout disparaîtra mais
Le vent nous portera

One of my best travel memories. My night bus was arriving in Cancun, but there were no spring break parties. It was pouring rain and I was still a rookie in terms of long-distance bus ride, but hey, I had survived the Mexico City to Merida 22-hour-long trip! I was lost and scared in the empty bus, it was dark outside and the weather sucked. Gringo city had lost its temper and was showing its true face, an overused place turned into a party heaven.

I grabbed my backpack and got off the bus. It was warm and windy. I suddenly realized I was living this crazy trip designed to bring us all the way to South America. No turning back now, baby girl.

The song soothes my mind. It was going to be alright. It was going to be fine. So much to see…

High Hopes (Pink Floyd)

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun
Along the long road and on down the causeway
Do they still meet there by the cut
There was a ragged man that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

Travelling is about hope and taking a chance on life. We’re not runaways. We’re travellers. We chose to let down a so-called normal life to go see the world. We are dreamers and deceivers—some understand and some resent us.

Some stuff is to be left behind in order to move on. Don’t try to hold us back.

Mama Call (Manu Chao)

Can’t you hear me mama call
Can’t you hear me crawling
Can’t you hear me when I call
Can’t you see me fall
I’m a long way from home

And yet, we’re human. I sometimes miss home, miss my language (which one was it already?), miss my routine and my culture. Some nights are darker than others. Some days are brighter, too. But meanwhile, I just listen to this song, and indulge a bit of self-pity.

Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody’s looking for something’

Fellow travellers, people you meet on the road. Some have a goal, some escaped, some are wandering around. Are we looking for something or are we living the moment?

On a Day Like Today (Bryan Adams)

Is there anybody out there?
anyone that’s loved in vain
anyone that feels the same
Is there anybody waiting?
waiting for a chance to win
to give it up and start again’

Deciding to travel isn’t that easy. Chances are, by the time you manage to save the money and the energy to go back on the road, your life was fairly stable. First sacrifice you make on the road to nowhere isn’t spending $$$ on a plane ticket: it’s taking a chance on the future. Nope, no banker, no career adviser to give on a hand and to lend you his calculator on this one. Choice is yours…

The Passenger (Iggy Pop)

I am the passenger and I ride and I ride
I ride through the city’s backsides
I see the stars come out of the sky
Yeah, the bright and hollow sky
You know it looks so good tonight

Sit on a bus, pitch dark outside, fellow passengers sleeping. Looking at the window to a non-existent landscape, swallowed by the darkness. More left to the imagination. Twist and turn, fast driving, a few lights here and there. Feels good and feels safe, feels like the world is in your hand.

Desaparecido (Manu Chao)

Me llaman el desaparecido
Cuando llega ya se ha ido
Volando vengo, volando voy
Deprisa deprisa a rumbo perdido

Cuando me buscan nunca estoy
Cuando me encuentran yo no soy
El que está enfrente porque ya
Me fui corriendo más allá

A map in your hand, the traveller’s Bible in the other, making a decision about where to go next. The world is yours, go crazy, there are no border you can’t cross and no city you can’t explore. You became an evasive person, jumping from one continent to another, from one bus to another one, switching from a language to another.

You’re running because you want to, your destiny in your hand.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2)

I have climbed highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for

Eventually, one day, you’ll be back. Home? Maybe. Depends on what you call home. You’ll be full of memories, facing the challenge to adapt to the “normal” life one more time. Takes a while. But you’ll get bored, and soon will realize that there’s more to see.

The beauty of travelling lies in the fact that there’s always a new world to discover.

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