Incorporating music into travel

Incorporating music into travel

I recently came across an interesting article; the gist was that more and more frequently, music is driving Millenial’s vacation choices. As I reflected on some of the statistics found in that study, I realized music is a large component of my adventures. This post will discuss how incorporating music into travel can lead to an enriched experience and maybe take you places you wouldn’t otherwise go. 

Getting all cultured

Music is a key aspect of culture in some places of the world and it would do you a disservice if you didn’t at least try to experience it like the locals do. 


For example, when we visited Bali we made sure to go to a legong dance performance where musicians play traditional gamelan music. During the performance we saw, around half a dozen gamelan players sat on the floor and hit hammer-looking things at drums and metal bowls. It was very percussive and when combined with the dancing semi-trancelike. (Or maybe I just had major jetlag.) I have not purchased any gamelan CDs yet, but it was really cool to hear the type of music people have been playing in this area for the last 2,000 years. Yeah, it’s that old. 


I’ve been to Salzburg, Austria, twice and both times had a really good time incorporating music into travel. On trip number one, we were visiting the Mirabell Gardens and just happened to stumble upon a local performance where older Austrians in traditional wear danced around to some musicians playing acoustic instruments. It was serendipitous and super cool to see. On the last trip we took, our friend C scheduled an AirBnb Experience to take yodeling lessons. We had so much fun! The teacher was delightful and our class had B, C and me, along with four older Austrian women. One interesting thing did happen: the locals were WAY better than us at yodeling Austrian songs. But when it got to a yodel that was more country/western, we rocked it! Their jaws all dropped when we all of a sudden didn’t sound like howling coyotes. 

yodel class
What better way to enjoy the Alps than to yodel?


When we visited Belgrade, B and I learned that you could go see an opera at the Serbian National Opera house for about $5. Now, we didn’t see an opera that was specific to Serbia (it was La Traviatta), but performances like these have a rich history of being performed in Europe. I specifically recommend attending performances in Eastern Europe because you can see world class talent at rock bottom prices. $5! And that was even an upgrade to the nice seats. 

belgrade national opera
Who needs to know the end anyway?

Funny sidenote about seeing La Traviata. It was sung in Italian and since we were in Serbia the subtitles provided were in Cyrilic, which means we understood none of the words (spoken or written). We figured there were three acts and after what (we felt) was the third act, we got up and left when the lights came on and people started clapping. I didn’t quite follow the story so I looked it up back at our hotel and it turns out we left before the third act even started. Whoops. 


In the millennial article, one in four people said they would travel internationally to a concert of a band they like. B and I haven’t made it to a show in a foreign country, but we have definitely had fun incorporating music into travel in the U.S. to watch some bands. 

Concert dictates the travel

When we took a giant road trip of the Southeast, we planned our route based on when the Randy Rogers Band was going to record a live album in Helotes, Texas. About a week later, we saw the Turnpike Troubadours were going to be playing in Memphis, Tennessee. Those things gave us the framework for all our other destinations and stops along the ride. 

Have vacation, will concert

On our way back from Morocco, B and I were flying in and out of New York City. Our flight arrived late and we knew we were going to have to overnight it and then continue westward the next day. American Aquarium just happened to be playing that night, so we went straight from the airport to the subway to the show. I’m sure we smelled delightful to all our fellow concert goers, but luckily there’s enough going on in dive bars that no one really can pinpoint the source of smelliness. 

Incorporating music into travel NYC American Aquarium
We got up close and personal at this rocking’ show on our layover

I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but on that same trip home from Morocco, we flew from NYC to Denver to watch another concert and then finally made it back to Boise the next day. What can I say…we were younger. 


Festivals are a delightful way to blend travel and music. There are loads of these shows now (mainly during the summer). I’m guessing they bring in a ton of money, bands like them cuz they get to hang with their friends in other bands, and concert goers like them cuz they get to see lots of bands all at once. 

A few of our main summer activities usually revolve around festivals, be it the Braun Brothers Reunion or Wheatstock in August or the Highway 30 Fest in June. These festivals are all located within a few hundred miles of Boise. It seems like festivals are becoming more and more popular, no matter the size of the town. The Wheatstock festival I mentioned earlier? That thing takes place in a town of 184. There isn’t even a gas station or ATM around, but they have great music!

incorporating music into travel small town concert
Small town sponsors are part of the fun of small town festivals.


You can still incorporate music into your travel, even if you don’t get to see a live performance. How? By creating a trip soundtrack! It’s really fun to find good music that has some reference to the places you are going. When we crossed Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, I had “Hurricane” by the Band of Heathens all ready to go. And when we drove into the majestic Blue Mountains in Australia, I had “Blue Side of the Mountain” by the SteelDrivers all keyed up.

I have some friends who would create trivia playlists for each other for their road trips. The one who didn’t make the list had to listen to the songs and guess the common theme. For example, if I played Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the FooFighters the answer would be ‘bands from Seattle.’ Music can make or break a road trip, so make sure you are primed and ready with your tunes before you get in the car.


If music is a big part of your life, it is a no brainer that incorporating music into travel will enrich your experience. So what about it? Did the article describe you? If so, make sure you include music in your next adventures. And if you have other good ways of combining music and travel, please share! 

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