The Power of the Playlist

Of the five senses, hearing retains memory the best. This is one of the many reasons that music is so powerful.

And no matter where you travel, there’s always music.

Because music holds memory so well, I put together playlists after most of my trips. It’s pretty easy to remember the songs because there’s a lot of repetition (thanks American music industry!), but I do jot down the names in my journal to help.

As I write this post on the beach in Punta del Este, I’m listening to my South East Asia playlist. It was astonishing how much American pop music we heard through the region. In Vietnam, we couldn’t escape Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. In the small town of Hoi An, my friend and I happened across a teenager sitting on the floor of a fabric shop, just belting out Bad Romance with her eyes closed and bopping her head like crazy. It was pure enjoyment for her.

Another interesting music moment was when we turned on our TV in Siem Reap and watched a Pitbull music video with Khmer subtitles. Mind blown.

Pitbull music video with Khmer subtitles

Listening to my playlists brings back so many happy memories from my travels. It’s another way, in addition to photos, videos, books and souvenirs, to keep your trip alive.  Make soundtracks of your adventures.


I finished writing this post but kept listening to the SE Asia playlist. Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” came on. Everyone has special songs that they will love forever and have many memories tied to it. This is one of mine.

My friend and I were at Angkor What? Bar in Siem Reap and I spent most of the night talking to the manager and drinking super cheap beer. We bonded over our love of Winamp. I asked him if he could play Hot in Herre for me and let us dance on the bar. He said he would play the song, but we could only dance on the tables. Fair enough. Before the first verse ended, we had jumpstarted the dance party at the bar.  I cherish the memory of how we started a dance party in Siem Reap with one of my favorite songs. We danced until the bar closed for a night.

Angkor What? Bar dance party

What songs are a must on your travels? Share below!

Tips for Pale People

Once upon a time, when I was a young girl, I would frolic outdoors everyday in the summer. And I would develop a beautiful tan. In a cool twist, a portion of my hair in the front would get bleached by the sun.  It was awesome.

As I got older, I spent less time frolicking outdoors and more time indoors, studying and then working. I would go on vacation and try to come back with a bronze glow. Instead I would come back painfully red.  To add insult to injury, the painful redness would simply disappear, leaving me pale as ever.

It took many years, but I finally came to accept the fact that it was best to remain pale on vacation than become sunburned for no reason.

Here are my tips for my fellow pale travelers:

  1. The shade is your friend. Walk in the shade. Put your beach chair in the shade. Make sure to eat in the shade. Try to wait in lines that are in the shade.
  2. Use strong sunscreen applied multiple times a day. I always use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 100+ with Helioplex. I know that anything above SPF 50 is marketing BS, but I can’t help myself.
  3. Good outerwear. Clothing with UPF50. A hat. A swimsuit with maximum skin coverage (it’s really difficult to put sunscreen on everything if you’re traveling alone). A swimsuit cover-up with UPF 50.
  4. Medications that warn you about greater sun sensitivity are not joking around. I got a slight burn on my face because I forgot to put sunscreen on it in the morning when I was taking malaria pills.  The pain was unbearable that day.
  5. Don’t worry about looking foolish. No one looks more foolish than me!
Pale people can enjoy the beach!

Did I miss any tips?  Please share below!