Sans iPod Tunes For Your Travels

Music is an essential element for me when traveling. This summer whether I’m hanging by the lake in Austin for the weekend, road tripping a couple states away or relaxing by the beach with family, music is always present. And with all there is to do to get ready for a vacation, making new playlists might not be at the top of your list.

Here are a couple ways to discover new music or stream tailored playlists without fighting over who’s iPod to plug in.

Pandora Radio

This is one of the more popular Internet radio providers (ie free) so you may already be familiar with the service. It is still worth mentioning though as it offers a great variety of music so no matter your taste, something should come up that you like. Most of the Internet radio services are modeled off the ‘choose something you like and we’ll play other similar songs’ model but I tend to use Pandora more to play music I am familiar with (since channels are based off me providing an artist). Giving the thumbs up to like songs and hear more like it and the thumbs down to refine my channels.

A great option on the laptop in your hotel room or streaming from the Pandora app on your iPhone. Plug your phone in to an aux jack in your car or dock it in a set of speakers and you’re good to go.

Slacker Radio

Another great option for sans iPod music, Slacker Radio is free as well so it comes with the standard six song skips an hour but has some great stations already set up. For me, Slacker leans more towards the ‘discovery’ end of the spectrum since you choose genres and stations then get music in that range.

It also has a great iPhone app to access music from your phone. Head down to the bay, get Slacker Radio cranking on iPhone speakers, pick a country station and commence your game of washers worry free of what to play next.


While on the road, hop on your laptop (or your uncle’s you are visiting) to log in to Grooveshark and access songs saved to you library or playlists you’ve created previously. Everyone can’t decide on a playlist? Make a new one up from the road or just choose a radio station to stream music. As for which station to choose… you’re on your own on that. Be sure to check out the Blackberry app as well for Grooveshark on the go (sorry fellow iPhone-ers, no app at this time).

And one of the cooler new services to keep an eye out for in the near future…


Rdio is a new social music service that allows you to discover and stream music easily. Big ups to Ben for the heads up on this. From, “We’re making a music service that takes the work out of deciding what to play next — follow friends and people with great taste in music, get inspired by what they’re playing, and listen to their playlists.”

Browse music by “New Releases”, what’s “Popular This Week”, and also what is “Recommended for You” based off your preferences. Once you’ve discovered something you like, add it to your “Collection” which you can view by artist and it makes a coold cloud diagram for you. Then follow your friends to see their collections and playlists. So if your car full of friends can’t decide on one of your playlists, create one on the go via the awesome Rdio iPhone app. Or if a laptop is an option, you can log in to stream to other people’s playlists.

My collection “cloud” so far

The downside, besides not being available yet, is that when it is available it will run you $9.99/mo for unlimited web and mobile access or $4.99/mo for unlimited web access. I haven’t decided yet whether or not I will spend the $10 a month for it but the more I play with it, the more I like it. Currently Rdio is just listed as “Coming Soon” with no date mentioned for availability. You can sign up at to receive emails with updates.

And don’t forget to keep your ears open when on vacation, listening for new, good music. One of my favorite things to do when on vacation is to listen to local radio stations, ask cab drivers what artist is playing in the car if it is good and pay attention to what is on in bars and restaurants. If something sounds cool, ask some one if they know who it is. And if they don’t know, Shazam away. That is how I found one of my favorite songs I wouldn’t have otherwise. On a booze cruise excursion in Puerto Vallarta I asked one of the guys in the crew what we were listening to. It was “El Garrote” by Los Socios del Ritmo and it was awesome. Listen to it on a boat, in the sun, with a refreshment of your choice and thank me later.