10 Songs for Your Next Road Trip

Summer is the season for road trips, which means a lot of us will be spending a lot of time on the road in the next few months. And nothing ruins a road trip like a bad playlist (followed in close second by that mystery meat you ate at that roadside café).

Make your hours in the car more bearable with this roundup of songs that celebrate life on the open road, will keep you awake, and won’t make you want to stick your head out the window after one listen:

1. “Life Is a Highway,” Rascal Flatts (2008)
I like this updated version of the 1991 Tom Cochrane tune, which also appeared on the Cars soundtrack. It’s an upbeat track about leaving your troubles behind in search of adventure. Sounds good to me.

Best Lyric: There’s a world outside every darkened door / Where blues won’t haunt you anymore

2. “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen (1975)
This song is all about running off with that special someone in the name of love. It’s not exactly a fairy tale, but it does capture the spontaneity of a road trip. And besides, it’s The Boss.

Best Lyric: Oh, will you walk with me out on the wire? / `Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider

3. “Home,” Song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (2009)
They say home is where the heart is. And no song better sums that up than this one. Road trips are times to bond with loved ones that make you realize the people in your life will always be more important than things.

Best Lyric: Well, hot and heavy, pumpkin pie / Chocolate candy, Jesus Christ / Ain’t nothing please me more than you

4. “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” Nat King Cole (1946)
There’s no road (or song) in America more synonymous with road trips than Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Santa Monica. This song has been covered by everyone from Bing Crosby to John Mayer and you really can’t go wrong with any version.

Best Lyric: Won’t you get hip to this timely tip / When you make that California trip / Get your kicks on Route 66

5. “Little Red Corvette,” Prince (1982)
OK, this song probably isn’t one to sing along with when the kids are in the car. But it has “Corvette” in the name, so it totally works. Save it for an adults-only road trip unless you want to do some explaining.

Best Lyric: Little Red Corvette / You need to find a love that’s gonna last

6. “Road Trippin’,” Red Hot Chili Peppers (1999)
Leave it to some of California’s most famous rock stars to pen a seriously catchy tune about a road trip taken along the Pacific Coast Highway. Listening to the words, it’s so easy to picture yourself on the west coast, even if you’re stuck in traffic in Ohio.       

Best Lyric: Now let us drink the stars, it’s time to steal away / Let’s go get lost right here in the USA        

7. “On the Road Again,” Willie Nelson (1980)
If there’s one person you can bet has some fun on the road, it’s Willie Nelson. His song about traveling the country making music always helps me forget about the less-fun parts of road trips, like stinky rest stops and trying to sleep upright.

Best Lyric: We’re the best of friends / Insisting that the world keep turning our way

8. “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” John Denver (1971)
Vacations are fun and all, but the feeling of pulling up to your own home after being away is hard to beat. Play this one as you drive back from your adventure and you’ll be singing along in no time at all.

Best Lyric: Drivin’ down the road, I get a feelin’, That I should’ve been home yesterday, yesterday

9. “I Can’t Drive 55,” Sammy Hagar (1984)
For all the inner speed demons out there hauling the family cross country in a minivan, this one’s for you. Crank this rock tune up to help you enjoy the thrill of the open road, even if you’re being pelted in the back of the head by wayward snacks.

Best Lyric: Go on and write me up for 125 / Post my face, wanted dead or alive / Take my license, all that jive / I can’t drive 55

10. “Here I Go Again,” Whitesnake (1982)
If you like taking solo trips, this song from British hair metal band Whitesnake is your anthem. You don’t need anyone to find adventure and have a good time and for that, I tip my hat full of anxiety to you.

Best Lyric: And here I go again on my own / Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known / Like a drifter I was born to walk alone

What music do you like to listen to on a road trip? Share your go-to tracks with us in the comments.