With the right company and the right playlist, a road trip can be a helluva good time. After all, they say it’s not the destination but the journey to get there that’s the real experience. And the perfect playlist of songs can help you conquer any trek – one track at a time.
So while the weather keeps warming up and you start planning your summer road trip, make sure you’ve got the right tunes to not only set the tone but maintain it throughout your journey. You bring the snacks, we’ll provide the songs.
Here are the top 15 travel tunes (in no particular order) for your next road trip.
Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
If Wayne’s World taught us anything (besides when to schwing), it’s that four or five friends, a car and Bohemian Rhapsody were made for each other.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Fortunate Son”
Maybe it’s just the beat or maybe it’s the scene of helicopters flying through the jungle in Platoon; whatever it may be, it’s hard to resist rolling down the windows and blasting the track when this CCR classic cues up.
Johnny Cash – “I’ve Been Everywhere Man”
From its slow build to right when the full head-bopping band hits, it’s impossible to ignore the catchiness of the tune – and for a road trip, it couldn’t be more fitting.
Smashing Pumpkins – “1979”
Some songs were just meant to be driving tracks. Right when “1979” hits the speakers, its soothing guitar riff makes you want to stick your feet out the car window, and when the bass chimes in, you can’t help but stick your hand out to catch some wind waves.
Journey – “Don’t Stop Believing”
Whether you’re cutting a rug at a wedding, closing down a bar at 3 A.M. or riding in a car, literally anywhere – when “Don’t Stop Believing” comes on, everyone chimes in. Every. One.
Tom Petty – “Free Fallin’”
“Runnin’ down a dream” may fit the road trip bill better in terms of theme, but it’s impossible to resist cranking up the stereo and singing along when “Free Fallin’” comes on.
Tom Cochrane – “Life is a Highway”
In the mid-2000s, Rascal Flats breathed some fresh air from the open road into this 1991 classic road trip track, but the original still holds up just fine. You want the ultimate travel song? You may have just found it.
Alanis Morissette – “Ironic”
When you’re on a long road trip, you can’t help but get a little antsy. That’s where Alanis’ angst anthem can soothe some unsettled nerves. Fun fact: Ironically, “Ironic” isn’t ironic at all. And that statement wasn’t ironic either.
Lynryd Skynryd – “Sweet Home Alabama”
An American classic that just has that summer time travel vibe to it. It’s a sad, sad shame the band was killed in a plane crash. But don’t worry, there’s no omen while listening to this in your car on your road trip.
Steppenwolf – “Born to Be Wild”
Out on the open road, sometimes you just gotta get your motor runnin’. You gotta head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure … whatever comes your way. Steppenwolf’s ode to adventure is the perfect road trip anthem.
Rihanna – “Shut Up and Drive”
The song title pretty much sums it up. Throw in a catchy beat and Ri-Ri’s vocals and you’ve got a song you can’t help but to belt along to.
Oasis – “Wonderwall”
Don’t deny it, every time “Wonderwall” comes on in your car you do your best Liam Gallagher impersonation, but it just ends up sounding like bad British karaoke. It’s cool. We all do.
Katrina & The Waves – “Walking on Sunshine”
It doesn’t matter what kind of ‘mood’ you’re in, when “Walking on Sunshine” hits your car’s speakers you can’t help but to smile, bounce around and sing along – making it the perfect road trip pick-me-up tune.
R.E.M. – “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”
If you’re like everyone else, you don’t know the fast part of the verse, but you routinely chime in during the last couple words of every verse and during the chorus you rock out. It’s a great track as you drive across the vast spoils of America from point A to point B, and everywhere in between.
Katy Perry – “Teenage Dream”
Sometimes you just need a little K.P. to get you through your journey and “Teenage Dream” never fails to disappoint. Even if you hate pop music, you can’t help but be drawn in by this track’s utter catchiness.
Didn’t see your favorite travel tune on the list? Well, maybe it made honorable mention:
Counting Crows – “Mr. Jones” – you can tell each other fairy tales on your ride to wherever
John Mellencamp – “Jack & Diane” – Freedom. America. Country. That is all.
Mumford & Sons – “I will wait” – That folk rock, tho
AC/DC – “Highway to Hell” – because you know, driving on a highway to hell sounds so inviting.
Bob Seger – “Old Time Rock & Roll” – We dare you not to hum the piano part … double dog dare you
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Scare Tissue” – the music video is a road trip, it was meant to be
Steve Miller Band – “The Joker” – So many good travel tunes from SMB, this one just made the cut
Lady Gaga – “Just Dance” – You may be in a car, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shimmy
Elton John – “Rocket man” – Why not, like for real. EJ knows what’s up.
Billy Joel – “We Didn’t Start the Fire” – See “We Didn’t Start the Fire” description above
The Cure – “Friday I’m in love” – Countdown your days of the week while on the open road