SUITCASE’s Editor-in-Chief Kate Hamilton introduces the new issue.

We are all born with rhythm inside of us, even if the average dancefloor might seem to disagree. Our breathing patterns, sleep cycles and strides are all regulated by the heart, which pumps out an ongoing, ever-present beat.

Reflecting the body’s innate sense of rhythm, many of us fall into regular patterns of behaviour – we eat the same thing for lunch every day, return to familiar holiday destinations and get our news from sources that reinforce our own views. While routines might be grounding and comforting, they can also constrict and confine us. In this age it is all too easy to exist within a bubble, and it’s important to break free from the patterns we create for ourselves; to travel and switch up the beat.

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A journey to Africa often means following a well-trodden safari path, but this approach can lead to a blinkered experience. A sprawling metropolis that runs on a heady mix of humidity and traffic, Ghana’s capital is at first glance overwhelming. But with a little guidance from Accra’s warm and friendly people, you’ll discover a city that brims with entrepreneurial spirit. Embodying energy, passion and diversity, music is the glue that binds the place together.

Vienna is also famous for its musical output. More celebrated composers have lived in the Austrian capital than in any other place in the world, and the streets pulse with the weighty presence of some of the greatest thinkers of days gone by. That’s not to say that the city is resting on its laurels. International architects, creative entrepreneurs and contemporary artists are playing Vienna’s creative legacy forward, fashioning perfect harmony between old and new.

Meanwhile Colombia’s third-largest city dances to a sultry salsa beat. Still stepping out of the shadows of a reputation for drugs and violence, Cali has a gritty, untamed energy that captivated the heart of the Emmy-nominated documentary maker Kate Horne. She found that music here has the ability to bridge boundaries and bring communities together. The result is an “ageless, classless melting pot of cultures”

By contrast, music is used as a proud and pure symbol of national identity in Corsica, a Mediterranean island that remains unhappily part of France. Here, patriotic strains of thought course from a history of militant rebels, vendettas and bandits through to the present-day tradition of polyphonic singing. Intrepid travellers, however, are sure to find a warm heart underneath Corsica’s somewhat scratchy surface. As one west-coast native told our writer Bex Hughes: “Corsicans are a bit grouchy, but if we like people then we really open our hearts and the doors to our houses.”

French Polynesia also demands that travellers work a bit harder to discover its true charms. This chain of jewel-like islands in the South Pacific hums with crashing waves and beating drums, and is a picture postcard of paradise. But it can be difficult to get beyond the tourist track, and our Digital Editor, India, relished the chance to spend a few nights in a homestay (rather than a honeymoon hotel) on the wild, unspoilt isle of Maupiti.

The Rhodope region of Bulgaria, however, wears its heart on its sleeve. Here, nature is protected and folk traditions have been preserved (it’s not a place where you’ll find the latest speakeasy bar, and it’s not trying to be). Named the European Capital of Culture for 2019, the city of Plovdiv is a centre of historical tourism, while the boutique retreat Villa Gela champions affordable luxury in the hills.

With our travels tied up, we turned our focus to home and profiled eight women carving out the future face of London’s music scene. From the soulful sounds of Ray BLK to the pioneering rap of Little Simz, these women find constant inspiration in their respective neighbourhoods, and through their eyes we too saw our city afresh.

The ability to view the world through the perspectives of others is at the very heart of why we travel. It is all very well to dance to the beat of your own drum, but if we refuse to listen to the tempos of others, then what are we really creating beyond background noise? By travelling outside our comfort zone, by learning from the rhythms of other cultures and, in turn, evaluating our own patterns we develop from a steady beat towards a more complex and inclusive melody.

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