There’s no excuse for not having a playlist ready for any travel situation you find yourself in.

Remember back in the old days, when music was actually stored on circular pieces of plastic?

This archaic technology was called a “compact disc” and seems quaint now in the time of gigabytes and iPods.

Now you can take your entire music collection (along with your neighbour’s) with you on the road. Which means there’s no excuse for not having a playlist ready for any travel situation you find yourself in.

Having the perfect playlist will ensure the camaraderie and admiration of others, and will result in immense personal satisfaction.

Here are 5 essential playlists for the most common traveler situations, along with a bonus backup playlist just in case.

The Roadtrip

There’s nothing worse than heading out for the roadtrip of a lifetime, and finding the only music on hand is a compilation of obscure Australian folk music (yes, I’ve lived through it).

Avoid this torture by pre-selecting a bevy of roadtrip tunes guaranteed to cross cultural boundaries no matter who’s in the car/bus/jeep.

Suggested Artists: Nirvana, Bryan Adams, Tom Petty

The Hammock Chillout

It’s afternoon. You spent the morning snorkeling the crystal blue ocean, darting among the rainbow coloured fish, tasting the salt water on your tongue. Lunch was a bowl of green curry, chased down with a Beer Chiang.

You’re tired, but satisfied. The sun has reached it’s zenith, draining your energy to do anything but relax in the hostel hammocks or lounge by the pool. It’s the perfect time to ask the employee behind the desk if you can hook up your MP3 player for some chillout tunes.

Suggested Artists: Coldplay, Air, Jack Johnson, Zero 7

The Hostel Pre-Party

It’s a big night tonight. You’ve just arrived in town, unpacked your bags, befriended the few others in your hostel room (or hotel) and have decided it’s time to hit the town.

You head out to the nearest liquor store, grab a six-pack, bottle of boxed wine, or a mickey of vodka, and return to your room, stocked up from some pre-party drinking.

What’s missing? The music of course. Your bring out your MP3 player, hook it up to the handy external speakers you picked up before leaving home, and proceed to get the evening started.

A few of the following artists should keep you pumped until a warm buzz fills your blood and you’re ready to head out into the night.

Suggested Artists: Franz Ferdinand, Beastie Boys, Sublime, White Stripes

The Jungle Meditation

You’re at an eco-lodge or hostel in the middle of the jungle. No electricity (or perhaps very limited solar). No urban sounds penetrate the peace of the locale. Monkeys, birds, insects, and wind in the trees all contribute to the lush cacophony of music.

Of course, the lodge has a bungalow or secluded clearing nearby for travelers looking to practice a bit of meditation, or even simple yoga.

You could listen to the natural jungle music, or you could enhance it with some Buddhist chanting or Indian sitar. Perfect time to pop in your headphones, or use your portable speakers that came in so handy at the hostel pre-party last week.

Suggested Artists: Thievery Corporation, Flunk, Deep Forest

The Recreational Sport

You’re walking down the beach, enjoying the sunshine and the sand, wondering what to do with your day. Read a book? Wander into town? Take another nap?

Suddenly you stumble upon a group of locals kicking around a soccer ball. They stop. Size you up. Then wave you over to join in.

Or perhaps you’re at a hostel with a few mates, one of whom has the motivation to borrow the volleyball from behind the check-in desk, and gather everyone for some recreational volleyball. What would enhance the moment? Some high-energy background tunes.

Suggested Artists: Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada, Daft Punk

Bonus Playlist: Bob Marley

Should you accidentally forget to cover all your playlist bases, and you find yourself without one for a certain situation – you can always fall back on the eternal Bob Marley.

From the taxi driver in Calcutta to the scowling old man in an Albanian pub – everyone knows Bob.

So don’t be caught unawares – at the minimum have Bob Marley and the Wailers: Greatest Hits. There’s nothing quite like a good solid shoutout of “Oooo yeah!” to earn immediate kinship with other travelers and locals.

Any common travel situations I missed? Share in the comments!