There is nothing more soul-affirming than cranking up the music and hitting the open road. From classic rock belters to modern-day magic, the point of the road trip playlist is to keep you awake, feeling alive, and moving. The perfect playlist for those long and lush road trips will always include lyrics that are easy to sing along to and keep you energized for the miles ahead.
The best driving songs should straddle that line between nostalgia and the need to move.
With a little bit of Classic Rock and a little bit of Indie vibes, here are our suggestions to add to your next epic road trip playlist…
Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
We’re on the road to nowhere, come on inside. Taking that ride to nowhere, we’ll take that ride.
Because we all know it's not the destination that matters but the journey.
LA Woman – The Doors
Drivin’ down your freeways, midnight alleys roam, cops in cars, the topless bars, never saw a woman so alone…
Jim Morrison, the dark side of the American dream, the sixties – The Doors makes for epic driving music.
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Sprung from cages out on highway 9, chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin’ out over the line
The boss. Say no more.
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom
The open road is the best place for a Stevie singalong.
We Belong - Pat Benatar
We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
Pat Benatar was originally an opera singer before she (and her hair) became a hit in the 80s music scene. Her voice can not only carry a tune but can also belt out an anthem at the top of her lungs. If you put this song on your list of road trip songs, then you will be singing at the top of your lungs too.
Passenger - Iggy Pop
I ride through the city’s backsides, I see the stars come out of the sky, yeah they’re bright in the hollow sky, you know it looks so good tonight…
Capturing the secret thrills of driving without a purpose.
Sinnerman – Nina Simone
Sinnerman where you gonna run to?
Dazzling, dramatic, and ready to make you feel the pulse of movement in a thousand ways.
Marinade - DOPE LEMON
Well, do you want me, Just how I am?, Do you need me, Where I stand? Let's go steady, Let's make a plan, Marinade on that for a while
The cruisy sounds of his voice combined with the quirky lyrics make it easy to sing along to this song. It sort of sounds like it was meant to be listened to on a long summer drive with nothing but the wind keeping you cool.
Born to be Wild - Steppenwolf
Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure, and whatever comes our way
The opening credit song to Easy Rider is a road trip classic.
Going Up the Country – Canned Heat
I’m gonna leave this city, got to get away, all this fussin and fightin man, you know I sure can’t stay
Melodic summer magic and the promise of brighter days over yonder.
Little Red Corvette – Prince
Little red corvette, oh baby your much too fast…
Sexy and sublime, exactly the feels you need when putting your foot to the gas.
Celebrity Skin – Hole
When I wake up in my makeup, it's too early for that dress
For when you want to go full throttle with attitude, Courtney Love salutes you.
Texas Sun - Khruangbin and Leon Bridges
You say you like the wind blowing through your hair, Well, come on, roll with me 'til the sun goes down
If there are lyrics more perfect for a drive across the country, then I haven't found them yet. This song is the kind of song where you let your hair down, roll down the windows, and wave your hand through the wind as you cruise down the highway. If you haven't heard of Khruangbin yet, then I know that you will love them. Everyone does.
On the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
I left my home in Georgia, heading for the Frisco Bay….
For those drives that feel aimless and beautiful and steeped in the soul of wandering.
Dream On - Aerosmith
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear, Sing with me, it's just for today, Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away
Arguably one of the most popular songs that Aerosmith has ever made, Dream On is an anthem that feels just so damn good to sing to. When you've got a tiring long road ahead, this is one of those great songs that will bring you back to life.
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now, And this bird you cannot change
This long song is perfect for long road trips. Known by boomers and millennials alike, it is a fun song to sing with all of your heart by one of the best rock-and-roll bands that the US has ever known.
Heavy, California - Jungle
They say heaven's waiting for ya, So I'm heading for California
If you haven't heard of Jungle yet, then you're in for a treat. Their first album was self-named and every album since has been an improved version of their last. And when you're not driving, then you have to watch their official music video for some seriously mesmerizing dance choreography.
Living on a Prayer - Jon Bon Jovi
Take my hand and we'll make it I swear, woah-oh, living on a prayer
Jon Bon Jovi is the absolute epitome of 80's rock band, both in his hair and his raspy voice. What makes this one of the best road trip songs is that you can belt at the top of your lungs every time the chorus comes around.
American Girl - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Make it last all night (Make it last all night), She was an American girl
Tom Petty (RIP) has a unique voice that sounds like he's singing out of the side of his mouth, making him one of the most identifiable singers of the 20th century. His band has track after track of upbeat singable music so that you can take it easy, baby, and make it last all night.
How to Pick the Best Road Trip Songs for Your Next Drive
Want to make your own epic road trip playlist? We answer some of your biggest burning questions so that you can hit the highway for some groovy travel this month.
How long should a road trip playlist be?
A good road trip playlist will last for as many miles as you need to drive without repeating itself. So if you have to travel for 600 miles, then a playlist that lasts for 10 hours will do the trick. You could also change playlists every few hours to mix up the style of music you want. After all, throwing Classic Rock in with the likes of Jungle or Khruangbin bight make for a strange mix... or exactly perfect, depending on who you're asking.
What is a good road trip song?
A good road trip song is one that you can sing along to. And if not, then it's a song that makes you feel like you're in a cool music video with a sepia tone filter. Either way, the best driving songs really come down to the way you want to feel while you drive, how much time you have to enjoy the trip and the place where you are headed. To us, the songs listed above are some of the best road trip songs that you could blast on your car speakers.
How do I make a good driving playlist?
Road trip playlists are deeply personal, even if trivial. What may be great for you could be torturous for your travel partner, so a good driving playlist will accommodate the preferences of everyone in the car. For this reason, a lot of people stick with the classics, such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Prince, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Grateful Dead. A lot of variety also makes for a good playlist. Mix in one-hit-wonders alongside new music that is fun to bob your head to. Add in a new version of a classic hit as well as a quirky tune that only the biggest music nerds would know about. The idea is to make it fun to listen to and to get you amped up for the many miles (and time) that you will be spending on the road.
What to listen to on long drives?
Whatever you want to! But we've curated a few of our favorite travel playlists for you to listen to on your next road trip.
- Khruangbin and Other Cool Chill Shit
- 70s Road Trip
- Neo-Psychedelic Rock
- Indie Rock Road Trip
- Road Trip 2020 - Best Hits
What are some of the best road trips in the USA?
We're a bit road-trip-obsessed over here, so we've got a few pre-planned drives and travel tips ready for you here:
- 5 Epic USA Road Trips for Your 2020
- The Best US National Parks to Add to Your Next Road Trip
- Europe's Most Aspirational Road Trips
- How to do Road Trips Right
- How to Plan a Safe and Sublime Weekend Away
Which hot hits are making your road trip playlist? Share your favorite singalongs with us in the comments and lets crank up the volume.