Good Travel Tunes for Good Memories

Studies have shown links between sound and emotional memories. This probably doesn’t surprise anyone who has had pleasant flashbacks every time their favorite high school summer tune comes on the radio. On my most recent trip to Japan, I stumbled across this phenomenon as a surprisingly effective way of anchoring precious travel memories.

I love listening to chill electronica when on public transportation and ended up listening to the same album A LOT throughout my entire time in Japan. Emancipator’s Soon It Will Be Cold Enough was my choice for that trip. Now, I think of Japan every time I hear it. But I don’t only think of Japan, I feel the same way I felt on the Shinkansen bullet train on my way to Kyoto–the uncertainty flitting around in my chest and solid satisfaction resting on my shoulders–it comes back to me like I’m there.

I made this realization a few weeks after leaving Japan while I was in Cambodia.  So, decided to do an experiment: I listened to one album on repeat in each country I visited. The result? Strongly anchored emotional memories that are connected by album and country. It’s better than a photograph and has continued to make a huge difference in how I experience my travels.

The efficacy of this technique will probably vary from person to person, but I can’t stress how vividly I remember and feel my anchored travel memories. Try it the next time you travel somewhere and have a lot of downtime for listening to music (e.g. buses, trains, and planes).


Listen to one album or playlist repeatedly during a trip to anchor emotional memories and remember your trip more vividly.

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