We’re sharing some of the Passion Passport team’s most memorable travel stories in our new “Staff Stories” series. To go along with our Instagram challenge (linked here), this week’s theme is #PPTravelPlaylist — stories associated with specific songs from our travels!

Elliot (Social team)

They say that smell is the sense tied most strongly to memory, but I’d have to guess that sound is a close second. Vance Joy’s “Riptide” always triggers a flashback to driving passenger-side through the rural outskirts of Indianapolis with my buddy, Joe.

As a Midwesterner, I know the Hoosier state — especially given our new Vice President — is more often a joke’s punchline than a bucket-list destination. And it wasn’t a moment that would normally stand out, especially two years later. But the combination of the the summer breeze from the open window, the banjo, and the lyrics were all trapped in my mind.

“A lady running down to the riptide / taken to the dark side … This guy decides to quit his job and head to New York City / This cowboy’s running from himself” — just encapsulated the abandon that only travel brings — the emboldened sense brought on by being somewhere no one knows you. It was that freedom of belting with the radio at the top of your lungs when no one else is around.

Erin (Social team)

There are a few special songs that make me long for places I’ve never been to. They transport me to places I’ve only dreamed of and listening to them is like watching a movie set in Paris and feeling like I’ve lived there once before — like deja vu, or a surreal dream. “Girl from Ipanema” by Joao Gilberto is the song that comes to mind when I imagine Brazil. Arctic Monkeys’ “Riot Van” is the soundtrack for my vision of London. Charles Trenet’s “La Mer” is the sound and feeling I associate with Paris.

During my travels, I like to wander new cities by roaming through the side streets by myself. Sometimes I listen to music to remind me of my role as a traveler, an observer of the world, as if I am a painter seeking its muse, or a spy on a mission; to surreptitiously blend in like a local. “Bittersweet Faith” by Bitter:Sweet gives me that kind of vibe — of being an independent roamer on my own personal mission.  

Ruben (Social team)

Music has always been an important part of my life. Traveling across Europe for three months, I knew I’d have a lot of time to pass in between places, so listening to music became my go-to. There are a lot of artists or songs that remind me of specific cities, for whatever reason, and one of those bands is Phoenix. There’s an awesome Blogotheque show they did, and I remember this one song specifically they performed under the Eiffel Tower. So here we were, anxiously making our way into Paris via train, excited to experience one of the most iconic cities in Europe. I remember flipping through the artists on my iPod and landing on Phoenix’s album, Wolfgang Amadeus, and thinking to myself, “This is perfect!” I timed it so that I’d still be listening as we approached the city centre, and those sounds were the perfect soundtrack to beginning of a wonderful week in Paris.


Kyle (Design team)

It was my first trip abroad. I was 24-years old, heading to Europe for three months. It was before the iPhone, Spotify, or Pandora. The day before I left, I realized I had zero music on my newly bought brick-of-an-iPod. I needed new music — fast — enough not to get bored during the entire trip. I downloaded the past 12 months of playlists from http://www.birp.fm/playlist/2016/ (formerly known as blalock’s indie) that totaled around 150 songs. I had never heard of any of the artists or songs before.

It ended up being a blessing. Each new song imprinted a memory with the trip. Listening to those songs over and over solidified the association to every new destination I visited in Europe. After my trip, I lost that iPhone and all of those songs. Now, any time a birp 2012 song comes on, I am immediately transported back to the countless train, plane, and bus rides through Europe.

Emma (Editorial team)

During the last week of the summer I spent living in Tel Aviv, I went to Jerusalem by myself for a weekend. As I walked toward the train station at the end of the day along the walls of the Old City, “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra came on shuffle.

As a Jewish-American, we are constantly told that we can be at home in Israel. I don’t necessarily believe that, but I had built a little life for myself there. That summer, I spent three months working with Israeli and Palestinian kids who were imagining a better, brighter, shared future home together. It was a really emotional song to listen to while watching the sun light up the Jerusalem stone as it set on another day in one of the most contentious, vibrant, and ancient cities in the world.

Share your music-related travel stories with us via our contribute page