Because music is my job, the only time I actually really enjoy listening to songs is when I'm travelling and fortunately this isn't always for work. Having the right playlist with me is as important as packing the right clothes or having all the documents I need on me.
The travel playlist is different from other playlists, simply because all playlists should be unique. It's not like a DJ set, where you do a build-up, raise the energy then drop it down to something chilled out - a good playlist is one that fits perfectly with the mood you want to set. You wouldn't put a ballad on a gym playlist, right?
When I'm travelling, my beach playlist is probably the most important one. It's not just that they need to be uplifting and relaxing, I actually pick songs that work as an accompaniment to the sounds of the sea - I want the whooshing noise of the waves to play out like another instrument!
The bedroom playlist is also crucial. I have problems sleeping, and the only way to stop my mind racing is background sound. I hate leaving the TV on. So I listen to music to drift off to instead. It sounds like an insult to single out a musician, but I have so much love for artists like Erykah Badu, Norah Jones, Miles Davis. They have an incredibly soothing effect on me. Like how a baby sleeps when his mother sings to him.
I know some people have motivational playlists for when they're on business trips. I don't think listening to hyped-up, pumped-up tracks before a meeting is necessarily a good idea. You need clarity. For most situations where you might feel nervous or in need of a boost, have a feelgood playlist at the ready. Happy tunes that make you think everything's fine. My go-to is Stevie Wonder. You know who yours is.
Music should always be about enhancing your own pleasure. With your own playlist, you're not showing off how in-the-know you are - you put on songs that you like. Sure, if you want to expand your music knowledge and want to get to know a new artist or genre, travelling is the perfect time to take them in. But do your research before. You don't want to fill your playlist with tracks you hope you'll like and then find out when you're by the pool you actually hate them.
I don't want to waste any time skipping tracks. From the moment I'm on the plane, I value the fact that I can spend the next few hours being totally alone with my music. A lot of the times, music is something that plays in the background. Here's when you can actually listen to the lyrics, connect with it undisturbed. Let the soundtrack take you on your own journey.
A playlist should absolutely tell a story. I like it to be specific to where I am. When I'm on a city break, going in and out of hotels with a fast-paced schedule, that's when I need edgy dance music. And I swear hip-hop doesn't sound better anywhere on earth than in does in New York, or reggae does in the Caribbean.
Ultimately, you're making the playlist for you. It's not like the mixtape you made the boy or girl you liked, or the one for your mates to play at parties. When you're putting together music for others, it's inclusive by design. When I DJ live, I never have a playlist. I know what the first record is going to be. After that I read the crowd and pick my tracks based on the vibe in the room.
So make yours personal. Be careful though, you don't want to make a miserable playlist. A lot of people travel to get away from troubles. Repair a broken heart. And I know from my years as a DJ people like listening to songs that make them sad. There's something comforting about a song that lets you have a good cry. I get that. Musicians are like friends who help you through. I go to Bob Marley when I'm happy, but I also go to him when I'm feeling low. Personally, I'd avoid including any song on the list that brings you down.
When you're on your travels - be it for work or pleasure - you want to be on a high. Achieve something, relax, or just let go. Make a different playlist for all possible moods and the music will do the rest.