Late summer is road trip season for many across the country. While most everyone has their own playlist for the car, we put together a special collection of classic, catchy, and easy-to-sing road trip songs to get you through those long hours and to your destination. Grab your keys and crank up the volume!
1. On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
A song written about his life on tour, this quintessential road trip song was used as the theme to “Honeysuckle Rose”, a movie about an aging musician who travels with his family/band across the United States. As one of the country’s most popular tunes and an iconic travel theme, it tops our road trip playlist.
2. Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
While the metaphor may be a little cheesy, it has a catchy chorus that’s hard NOT to sing along to. The song’s use in the Pixar movie Cars helped it gain more recognition – solidifying it as a song you should listen to on a road trip, especially if you have children in the car.
3. I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
This popular country ditty has been covered by many, but Cash’s gravelly tone suggests a man who has indeed been everywhere. In four verses, 91 destinations, both big and small, are rattled off in rapid-fire succession – just listening to the song becomes a geography lesson!
4. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Born to Run is a urban-jungle cry, a love song, and the perfect anthem to escape the city and hit the road. It is not only #21 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, but it rocketed Springsteen to fame. With the throaty passion of Springsteen’s voice and the liberating wail of the sax, there is no rock song better for a road trip!
5. Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys have quite a few hits that deserve a play through on your trip (Fun Fun Fun, Good Vibrations, and Kokomo, to name a few), but Surfin’ USA is catchy and upbeat as it lists off multiple places to go surfing in Californi-a. If your destination is the beach, this song will definitely get you pumped for your getting into the water!
6. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynryd has quite a few songs worthy of road trips, but his most recognizable is Sweet Home Alabama. Interestingly enough, none of the writers are from Alabama. This southern boogie was instead written as a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and “Alabama”.
7. Hotel California – The Eagles
Written by the Eagles as an interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles, Hotel California is one of the darker songs on our list. It has memorable tune and epic ending guitar coda, voted the best guitar solo of all time, which make it a great song for the road.
8. Highway to Hell – AC/DC
While a close tie with Back in Black, we chose Highway to Hell for its relevance from AC/DC’s extensive list of songs that demand to be played while you’re cruising down the freeway. Nobody’s gonna slow you down when you’re playing this song.
9. Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf
This Steppenwolf song invokes a biker attitude, with cylinders firing and the highway beckoning. Although it’s become a little cliche thorough the years, after you’ve gotten out of the city, it’s a good song to listen to on the open road.
10. Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas
This Kansas single was #11 on the Billboard list in 1977, and has only grown more popular since! With its belting harmony, hard drums, and the guitar solo, it’s no surprise that the song became popular with younger generation through its use in Guitar Hero. The television series Supernatural has also used Carry on Wayward Son as its unofficial theme song.
11. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
As the most popular song today that was released in the 20th century, this rock anthem has all the perfect elements of a song for the road – it’s catchy, easy-to-sing, and nearly everyone knows the lyrics.
12. Here I Go Again – Whitesnake
While the lyrics speak more to break ups and it takes a while to speed up, this ’80s power ballad begs for a wide open road. Just make sure you don’t get caught speeding.
13. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Halfway into your road trip, you need a pick-me-up song, and with it’s catchy piano tune and energizing guitar riffs, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” works very well! The single was also voted “The Greatest Driving Song Ever” by viewers of Top Gear in 2005.
14. Holiday Road – Lindsey Buckingham
It’s hard to listen to this song without picturing the Griswold family station wagon charging into Wally World. The movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation, cemented this theme as a road trip song forever in the minds of 80’s kids.
15. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
It is no surprise that I’m Gonna Be is the Proclaimers’ most popular song worldwide. When this song comes on, you can guarantee everyone in the car will be thumping the surface nearest them to this catchy tune.
16. Where the Streets Have No Name – U2
The anthemic opening track from U2’s 1987 album Joshua Tree is great for any road trip. Although the song is about Bono’s vision of an Ireland without class boundaries, it has inspired many road warriors to venture where the streets truly have no name (or at least limited signage).
17. I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones
This song is great for a super long road trip. With 24 hours on the road, we all wanna be sedated! With easy to sing lyrics, they’ll have you ba-ba-baba-ing your way down the highway all night long.
18. Radar Love – Golden Earring
A man driving to his lover and communicating to her through “radar” may seem strange, but the beat prevents you from questioning it. As one of the more popular songs about driving, the bassline alone will have you nodding along and your foot pressing down on the gas.
19. Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh
This 8-minute long tune is a great sing-along song. Though it’s not strictly about road trips, the man does say his “Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don’t drive”.
20. Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
With its upbeat happiness, it’s no surprise that this song has maintained popularity through its use in movie soundtracks, most notably Ice Age and the Road Dahl’s Mathilda.
21. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
As the road begins to end, you’ll need some energizing music and this song beats every one. The theme to Rocky III will ensure that you’ll make it to your destination.