Have you ever been driving along the highway, belting out the lyrics to your favourite tune and look over at the people in the car next to you laughing hysterically? Oh, yeah, been there, done that. It is moments like these that gave us the inspiration for compiling our list of the best road trip songs ever.
We say, don't be embarrassed for having a good time in the car. It's your own little sanctuary. It's just you, the steering wheel, and the open road. Nothing makes a road trip better than a good playlist and we've compiled the ultimate road trip songs playlis for your next overland adventure. And we hope you put together your own list of road trip songs and share it with us too! We're ThePlanetD on Spotify.
Do you love a road trip? Check out our list of the Best Road Trips in the World!
Best Road Trip Songs Ever
Home for a Rest
Spirit of the West
This road trip song by Canada’s Spirit of the West always makes me want to go to London, England and hang out in the pubs. I think about all the travels we have done and when we do come home, we need a rest. Travel is exhausting and when you add pub crawling to the mix, it is doubly exhausting. I love the opening:
“You’ll have to excuse me I’m not at my best,
I’ve Been Gone for a Month, I’ve Been Drunk Since I left.
These so called vacations will soon be my death,
I’m so sick from the Drink, I need home for a rest…"
by Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars
Last year while driving around Costa Brava in Spain, the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars tune was was our go to road trip song.
We called it the song of summer and whenever it came on, we'd jive and jam in the car. Dave and I love to sing during a road trip and this one makes you want to wail at the top of your lungs.
We're gonna Uptown Funk you Up!
Sweet Home Alabama
I didn't know a lot about Lynyrd Skynyrd besides their music until I watched Muscle Shoals. This is an excellent music biography about one of the most innovative and prolific sound studios of the 60s. Everyone who was anyone recorded there. Once the Southern guitar picking begins, you can't help but move in your seat and dance a few miles down the way.
In Sweet Home Alabama, there's a stanza where they sing:
"Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they've been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you?"
I never know what they sang there or what they were referring to. Now I know!
Get the movie Muscle Shoals where the song was written and mentioned in the lyrics.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
How does one choose a favourite Red Hot Chili Pepper's song? They have so many great albums. But Californication is the perfect tune for a road trip. Heck, even the video is all about driving. I used to say, "How can anyone not name Red Hot Chili Peppers as one of the greatest bands of all time?" I mean, everything is perfection. Anthony Kiedis is a poet, Flea is a master on the bass, John Frusciante creates the most memorable and intricate guitar riffs out there today. Plus, how can you forget Chad Smith on drums. He's quiet and unassuming in real life, just like his music: Subtle and creative. Plus, he looks exactly like Will Ferrel. Nobody has the same feel or sound as the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
You've got to read Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis - this book will blow your mind about everything he and the band have gone through.
Buy the album Californicatoin. The entire disc is perfection.
Sympathy For the Devil
We've been lucky enough to see the Rolling Stones in concert three times. Dave even met the band way back in 2003 when he did lighting for a media blitz they did in Toronto. He has a lot of stories from that time and he and the crew even enjoyed a beer with Mick Jagger. This is by far our favourite Stones song. Once the funky beat starts and Mick Jagger starts to introduce himself, we're in for the duration. Even if we have to get out of the car soon, we'll leave the engine running until the final chord is played!
Buy the Rolling Stones Greatest Hits here
This song starts off slow and builds to a screeching point with Steven Tyler wailing "Dream On, Dream On, Dream On, Dream Until Your Dreams Come True!" You don't want to be in the car with us when this song is on. Both of us are yelling at the top of our lungs and banging our heads to the beat. When Dream on comes on the radio, there's no talking to either of us until the song is over.
There's nothing really amazing melodically or musically about this song by the Proclaimers, but when it comes on the playlist, everyone stops to sing along. It's one of those songs that you can't help but love. Even if you hate it! 500 miles must be included on your Road Trips Songs playlist, it would be criminal to leave it out. And my oh my, it's such a cute little love song. If anyone would walk 500 miles for you, he's/she's a keeper!
Rent Benny and Joon where the song was featured
Remember when Elaine's boyfriend refused to speak to anyone when Desperado came on the radio during a classic Seinfeld episode? Elaine decided that she loved Witchy Woman and that would be her song. Well, when it comes to the Eagles, Hotel California is our song. Don't speak to me, don't even look at me when Hotel California comes on because I am going to sing along and play air guitar to that classic solo. Man, we love the Eagles. RIP Glen Frey.
Get the Hell Freezes Over Tour where the Eagles come together live
Right about here we wanted to include Prince's Little Red Corvette, but he didn't have any songs on Spotify. Since I started making this Best Road Trip Songs Playlist with my Spotify Account, I realised that I couldn't properly include him. But if you can get your hands on some Prince music, put him on your playlist. Sad to see another legend lost, but his music lives on. Pick up a copy of Prince's Greatest Hits, you won't be disappointed. But there are some tributes happening on Spotify now.
You Oughta Know
The feminism anthem of the 1990s was written and performed by a Canadian. We owned Jagged Little Pill and there isn't a bad song in the bunch. But it's You Oughta Know that is one of the best road trip songs on the album. The staccato speech at the beginning gets you hooked for the driving beats ahead. I - Want - you - to - know. That - I'm - happy for you. I - wish - nothing - but - the - best - for - you both.
Was this sone about Joey from Full House? We'll never know. But you oughta know!
Buy the Album Jagged Little Pill, it's a good one!
See You Again
Wiz Khalifa, Chralie Puth
Why this song wasn't nominated for an Academy Award was beyond me. Everyone was shocked when Paul Walker was killed in a car accident two years ago. He died during the filming of Furious 7. I never did see the film, but this song played during his final scene in the movie, which I read all about. It seemed to be a beautiful send off to him and whenever I heard it it brought a little tear to my eye. This is a great song for a road trip and is fitting since it's the title theme for a movie about fast cars.
Watch all the Fast and the Furious Movies in this Box Set
Jack and Diane
John Cougar was the first musician I ever saw live. My brother and now sister in law brought me to a show at Copps Colluseum in Hamilton and I couldn't get enough of his music after that. I loved his rockabilly sound and to this day, the minute those first five chords ring out over the car stereo, I start rockin'. Jack and Diane is probably his best song and is all about two American kids living in the heartland. Dave and I still feel like a couple of kids when this song starts to play, bringing us right back to our childhood every time.
It was after watching Love and Mercy and The Wrecking Crew that we realised just what a genius Brian Wilson is. We even had the opportunity to see the Beach Boys live (sans Brian Wilson) two summers ago while in Orlando. They made a lot of good lighthearted songs like California Girls, Surfin' USA and Kokomo, but it's Good Vibrations that really shows the depth and musicality of the band's genius. This song has the vibe that both Dave and I love for a road trip. I'm pickin' up Good Vibrations.
Sweet Child O' Mine
Guns n' Roses
Okay, Dave and I are huge Guns n' Roses fans. When choosing road trip songs, GnR is right at the top. We know every word and both of us immediately stop talking and start singing and playing air guitar. (Or if Dave's driving, air drumming on the steering wheel.) Guns n' Roses' music holds up after all these years and it's awesome that they are finally back together touring. If anyone has tickets they want to give us, send them our way!
Who doesn't love Adele's velvet voice? Sure, "Hello" isn't a fast paced tune, but it is an excellent road trip song. Why? Because you can howl, scream and holler along. She reaches those high notes and you just want to join right along. Turn the stereo up to 11 and belt out those notes along with Adele. Don't worry, everyone in the car will be singing along, so nobody will hear you scream "Hello from the outside".
You can't have a party without the B52s. I'll never forget going to their concert in 1990. (Yes, it was that long ago.) I had no idea who they were, but a co-worker from my show at Canada's Wonderland invited a bunch of the cast along. We arrived at Massey Hall in Toronto where the crowd was filled with people sporting beehive hairdos and wardrobes straight out of Austin Powers. Once the music started, we rushed the stage and there I stood there at the very front listening to the best party tunes I've ever heard. It was all awesome until someone stole their Rock Lobster and they refused to continue until they got it back. They got it back and the party continued with Love Shack.
Coming to America
During our sort of road trip through Africa. (We cycled 12,000 km from Cairo to Cape Town in 2008.) I had Neil Diamond's Greatest Hits on my iPod. Whenever I was feeling exhausted or just overwhelmed with the scope of the day's ride ahead, I'd put on Neil Diamond's mix of mellow and fun tunes. It was Coming to America that picked me up the most. It's just so motivating. The driving beat makes you feel that you can do anything. It's all about traveling far and coming to America. I'm not even American, and it inspires me. This song captures what America used to be to so many people. Let's hope they get there again.
Carry on Wayward Son
If you are a fan of Supernatural, you'll recognize this song from the recaps they do at the beginning of most seasons. Sam and Dean are always road tripping around the American Mid West (filmed in Vancouver) in search of creepy creatures to destroy. This song by Kansas has stood the test of time, not only because of Supernatural, but it was huge during the Guitar Hero days. When they belt out their harmonies at the beginning followed by the hard drums and guitar solo, you can't help but bounce to the beat.
Get the complete series of Supernatural, this song is heavily featured in it.
The best road trip songs are upbeat and easy to sing to. If you agree with that definition, The Nights is definitely a perfect tune for your playlist. It's easy to learn the lyrics and a lot of fun to sing a long with. The song is by the Swedish DJ Avicii, but it feels more Celtic to me. It was an awesome tune on our playlist for our road trip through Ireland last year.
You can buy the single on Amazon
Man, Cake has some great road trip songs. They have a super sense of humour and their music is just simply a lot of fun. I could choose a couple of their songs for our road trip playlist, like Short Skirt Long Jacket or the hilarious Sheep go to Heaven, but Going the Distance is the song that was made for a road trip. Because that's in essence what you are doing when driving, right? "You're going the distance, and you're going for speed."
More Than a Feeling
Lead Singer Brad Delp had one of the best voices in Rock n' Roll. Dave and I love great vocalists and Boston's songs were meant to wail to. He could reach the high notes with such clarity and there's nothing more satisfying when out for a long day on the road than reaching those notes in the car and pretending to be a rock star. This is the song to do that to.
Now you may be thinking, where are all the classic road trip songs like I've Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash, or Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf. Never fear, we compiled that list a long time ago when we held a contest asking people for the best song. Here's what everyone came up with. The Ultimate Travel Song Playlist.
When on a long road trip, there's nothing better than a really long anthem-like song to come on. The miles seem to just fall away on the road. American Pie is one of those songs. A song that cuts nearly 10 minutes out of your road trip, as you sing along with each verse. There's something about knowing all the lyrics of American Pie that makes you feel like you are smart or something. When you know every word, it's impressive to others. Well, at least Dave and I impress ourselves and that's all that matters since we're usually the only two in the car!
The Guess Who
Let's stay with the American theme and go with this American classic, written by Canadians! When Dave and I got free tickets to see the Guess Who from his friend who ran their lighting, we weren't sure what to expect. Weren't these some old guys that sang songs we've never heard of? Boy were we wrong. Burton Cummings' voice is outstanding and Randy Bachman can make his guitar sing. But you'd also be surprised how many songs you know by the Guess Who. They had hit after hit. American Woman has been deemed an American Anthem, but what's funny about it is that the entire song disses America. "I don't need your war machines, I don't need your ghetto scenes". Listen closely and you'll see that they're telling America to stay away from them!
All About the Bass
When I first heard Meghan Trainor's voice I was hooked. It's so clear and fun. Have you seen her sing on Jimmy Fallon with the Roots playing kids school instruments as back up? It's amazing. That's how you know someone can sing: When they've got nothing backing them up but a kazoo and they sound awesome. This tune is so much fun. We're also fans of Your Lips Are Movin' by her as well. Meghan Trainor's tunes were made for road tripping.
Let's slow This Road Trip Songs Playlist down a little now. Africa by Toto didn't mean a lot to me until I went to Africa. They capture it beautifully in the song and it's so soothing to listen to. Wild dogs really do cry out in the night and yes, Kilimanjaro does rise like Olympus above the Serengeti. When Africa comes on, it makes me want to book a flight to Tanzania or Kenya. These country's are two of our favourite places in the world and we could go back again and again. But until we do, there's always Toto there to remind us of how much we love it.
Running on Empty
I bet you didn't know that Jackson Browne played a huge role in making the Eagles famous. He was roommates with Glen Frey and Don Henley at one point. Heck, for the longest time when I was a kid, I thought Running on Empty was performed by the Eagles. They have similar sounds because Jackson Browne actually co-wrote a lot of the Eagles songs. How do we know all this? We watched the Eagles documentary. Anyway, back to the song. Running on Empty is a road trip song, period. Come on, the album cover has a road on it!
Rent the movie The Eagles History to see the role Jackson Brown played in their success.
Don't Stop Believin'
Journey may have had a resurgence thanks to Glee, but we have always loved them. Open Arms is actually my favourite by them, but it doesn't exactly fit the bill as one of the best road trip songs of all time. It's more of a love ballad. We were both huge fans of Separate Ways, but perhaps the synthesizer is a little dated. Don't Stop Belivin' is definitely the Journey song that was made for driving. Heck it's even about taking a journey. "Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit. He took the midnight train going anywhere". Have you ever taken a road trip going anywhere?
Rent the movie Don't Stop Believin', it's so inspiring!
I Bet My Life
Imagine Dragons are quickly becoming one of our favourite bands of the 2000s. They are so versatile, with so many hits you don't even realise they are the same band. They are the same guys that sing Radioactive, Demons and It's Time. All songs are so different. But it's I Bet My Life that makes us want to bop our heads to the beat. We drove a lot through Europe last year and this was one of the big road trip songs for us to listen to.
Another One Bites the Dust
Queen is my ultimate favourite band. Metallica is Dave's. I could have just said "buy Queen's greatest hits and you'll have the perfect Road Trip playlist". However, I can only choose one, and if you want a song that picks you up when you're feeling a little groggy on the road, Another One Bites the Dust does the trick. Man, I love the bass in this song. If you watch the Queen Documentary on the BBC, you'll learn that the Bass Player, John Deacon, actually wrote some of Queen's biggest anthems, like this one, You're my Best Friend and I Want to Break Free.
I once sang this song in Belize with the local crime lord. I didn't know it at the time, but after I got off the karaoke stage, where I was joined by a random man who had a big grin on his face, I was told, he was that man. Woah. The friends you make when you sing Eminem. But this song rocks. Dave and I saw 8 Mile in the theatre and were totally impressed with Mr. Marshall Mathers' acting ability. We promptly bought the soundtrack and learned the lyrics to this song. It's one of those songs where, once you learn the lyrics, you never forget them because they are so fast and furious, you fall over yourself trying to say them with him!
Get the Movie 8 Mile on Amazon Prime
Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Who doesn't love Meatloaf? Paradise by the Dashboard Light was the song of the 70s. There are so many layers to this song and right from that first guitar lick, you can't help but get ready to start singing along in the car. Dave and I love it when it breaks into a duet and we sing back and forth. We start screaming until our vocal chords nearly break. After that song, you almost have to pull over for a break. It's that intense.
Get the album Bat Out of Hell. Every song is great.
Hey, don't hate on Nickelback okay? Everyone loves to hate this band, and yet they still have tons of top hits and sold out shows. Yes, Chad Kroeger's hair sucks with his long bleach blond locks and dark roots and his goatee does not fit his face, but Nickleback has some pretty memorable tunes. I remember listening to them sing live from The Edge Studios in Toronto for the first time when they belted out How you Remind Me. That song was their breakout hit, but you gotta listen to Rock Star. The lyrics of this song are hilarious and it was made for singing along to in the car. Who doesn't love the lyrics "I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels. Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes."
I love the positive beat of this song. Sure it may or may not be a break up song, I can't be sure about the lyrics - is it about breaking up or staying together? Who cares, it's gone a cool vibe. The video is so much fun and when this tune comes on, you instantly feel good. Andre3000 was named one of the best rappers of all time, and yet it's this little ditty that we love for a road trip. My Baby don't mess around.
Take the Money and Run
Steve Miller Band
"This here's the story 'bout Billy Joe and Bobby Sue". The Steve Miller Band's Songs were made to sing along to. Dave and I love to harmonise to their music. It's just so easy to hear the thirds and fifths. The reason we chose Take the Money and Run is because they headed down south and they're still running today. We don't plan on shooting anyone and taking their money, but we do plan on traveling forever. It's in our blood and even if we do settle down a bit, something tells me we'll always be on the move. Dave and I moved to Vancouver in 1992 and we're still moving today. Maybe not running, but definitely at a steady pace.
Back in Black
You may be thinking "No way, Highway to Hell is the ACDC song that fits in the road trip play list". You may be correct, but doesn't Back in Black have an awesome beat. That guitar at the beginning just rocks. It's no wonder Iron Man used it as the song for their opening scene as Robert Downey Jr. was driving with a band of army guys (and gal) from his arms dealing display in Afghanistan. Ever since then I've associated Back in Black with driving. Sure, he was in a Humvee and I'm usually in a mini compact economy car, but hey, I feel tough when that tune is playing.
Edge of Seventeen
The ultimate female rock voice is Stevie Nicks. This has been one of my favourite songs for years. I could only wish that I had a Rock n Roll voice. Mine was stuck in the pop world, but that didn't mean that I didn't daydream about rocking it like Stevie on the big stage one day. This rock song is great for anyone. Even Dave rocks out to it when I turn it on. It may have never made it to the top 10 when it was released in 1981, but this is the most memorable of all her songs and over time has gained more fame and glory than it had during its original release. Give it a shot and listen to it!
I Wanna Be Sedated
This is the easiest song to sing along to. It repeats and repeats but the beat keeps on going. When we're on a super long road trip, we agree, Twenty, Twenty, Twenty-Fours hours to go! I wanna be sedated. Get the Ramones on your road trip playlist now. They'll have you Ba ba baba, baba ba baba along all night long!
Bob Marley is another artist where we could just put on his greatest hits and make that a road trip playlist. But the self imposed rules of this article was to choose only one song per artist. Yes, he has more up-tempo songs that could fit the genre better, but we feel that sometimes you gotta slow down when choosing a road trip song and let the mellow feeling takeover as you drive the open road. Redemption Song is the perfect song for that occasion. It's one of those songs where you can put your vocal skills to the test and sing with feeling.
Follow You Into the Dark
Death Cab for Cutie
Sticking with slow songs, Dave and I love this one by Death Cab for Cutie. It's a love song and we love a good love song. Hey, we're both romantics at heart. One of my favourite lines is:
"You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
The soles of your shoes are all worn down"
That's how Dave and I feel, we've seen it all together and we love doing so.
Download this now for your Road Trip Song Playlist on Amazon
Life's Been Good
Another very long tune. Life's Been Good is a great road trip sing-a-long song. It goes on for a whopping 8 minutes. Do you know how many km you can cover when driving at 100km (or if you're like most people, 120km) per hour? That's right, 15km will fly right by! How does Life's Been Good fit with a road trip? Well, he does sing, My Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don't drive.
Best lyrics ever!
Shelter from the Storm
Well, since we're in the vein of 1960s music icons. We must include a little Bob Dylan. You see, you want your road trip playlist to be versatile. You can't stick with one genre or one decade. It needs to span many years and cover all music types. That way you never get bored. Shelter from the Storm is one of Bob's greatest hits and he's had many. You may choose one of his more famous songs like Blowin' in the Wind, Knockin' on Heaven's Door or Mr. Tambourine Man, But listen to Shelter from the Storm. This is a great song.
I'll never forget locking up Sherry Ott's phone (of Ottsworld's) during the Mongol Rally. She and Rick had to listen to our playlist the rest of the 10,000 km and she mentioned, if only we had some Billy Joel. I love Billy Joel, so I felt the same way! We didn't have Spotify then, so we couldn't just magically download Billy Joel in the Gobi desert, but I do agree, he makes for some great road trip music. Yes, he has a lot of hits, but Dave and I both love Piano Man. It's another long anthem type song that lets you sing along forever. With verse after verse our voices grow stronger and more powerful in the car until we're both belting out "Sing us a Song You're the Piano Man!" no you're the piano man!
From Piano Man to Old Man. Niel Young is another iconic Canadian in our list. I could do a Canadian version of Road Trip Songs, but I am afraid half of you wouldn't know the songs I am talking about. Anyone else out there know The Tragically Hip's Fireworks? Our Lady Peace's Starseed or Blue Rodeo's Bad Timing? Didn't think so. But we all know Neil Young. Even the younger generation knows him thanks to Jimmy Fallon. Old Man is our favourite. What's yours?