When Music Meets Travel

Listening to Music in the Woods

Fredrik Ohlander/ via Unsplash

Have you ever listened to a song and instantly traveled back in time? Music allows us to relive a particular moment in our lives and chances are that some of your best travel memories are tied to a particular song. But why does music do this and how does this affect the way we travel?

Memory and music are very connected. When you listen to music, three key parts of your brain are stimulated: the auditory, motor, and limbic regions. The auditory region processes sound, the motor region interprets rhythm, and the limbic region manages emotions.  When you listen to a song, these areas of the brain work together to not only analyze the song, but associate it with different thoughts and feelings.

The limbic region actually has multiple functions; not only does it process emotional responses but it is also the area of the brain that manages memories. Thus, if you are listening to a song while something happens, good or bad, you’ll more than likely be able to recall that memory in detail when you hear that song later on.

While traveling, you are immersed in a new environment, constantly being introduced to different sights, sounds, and tastes that you’re not normally used to. That alone could significantly shape your memory, but associating a particular moment or a specific city with music could only make the experience more vivid in the long run.

Personally, whenever I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” I’m immediately transported to the backseat of my dad old’s jeep, where we’re driving across the Piscataqua Bridge as my whole family travels towards our summer rental house in Ocean Park, Maine. I can feel the sun beating down on me through the windows, warming the seats. I can hear my mom telling us kids to hold our breath as we cross over the bridge and then make a wish. I can smell the hint of salt in the air as we roll down our windows and drive closer to the ocean. The song not only sparks a memory for me, but a full-body experience.

What would you put on your travel playlist?  Let us know on Facebook!

Topics: Music

Lauren Vinciguerra

Lauren is a Web Content Editor at EF. She dreams of going to Japan one day and eating her weight in sushi.

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