The Best Driving Songs: 18 Songs About Road Trips and Travel

Keep reading to hear my choices for the best driving songs to blast as you’re traveling around the country on a road trip.

Since I’m obsessed with music, I decided I need to start working more music articles into my travel blog. I’ve already written a Guide to the Bonnaroo Music Festival and a review of the Beale Street Music Festival. Now, it’s time to get serious about road trip music.

I take road trip songs very seriously. Now that everyone has a phone with Spotify and Youtube, that means mixtapes and mix CDs are becoming less common. But when I set out on my 46-state road trip a few years back, I needed the ultimate road trip mix.

best driving songs for road trips

The Golden Rule: Driving songs must be about road trips and travel

If you Google “road trip songs,” you’ll get a bunch of lists containing random songs like “Back in Black” and “Bat Out of Hell.” While these are fun songs to blast from your stereo, they have nothing whatsoever to do with traveling. I only want songs that actually deal with having crazy travel adventures or being behind the wheel!

I also intentionally left out songs that focus on specific locations. “Sweet Home Alabama” is cool, but what if you’re driving through Oregon? Then it becomes completely pointless. The more universal the song, the better!

With those rules in mind, here’s my playlist of the best driving songs for road trips:

1 Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
2 Roam – B-52’s
3 Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf
4 Driving My Life Away – Eddie Rabbitt
5 Moab – Conor Oberst
6 On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
7 Life in the Fast Lane – Eagles
8 No Particular Place to Go – Chuck Berry
9 Adventure – Be Your Own Pet
10 Everyday is a Winding Road – Sheryl Crow
11 Route 66 – Depeche Mode
12 Stickshifts and Safetybelts – Cake
13 I Can’t Drive 55 – Sammy Hagar
14 I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
15 Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
16 Roadworn & Weary – Supersuckers
17 Ramblin’ Man – Allman Brothers
18 Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me? – Keith Urban

Some of these are iconic travel songs, like “Life is a Highway” and “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Others are by bands that you may never have heard of, like Be Your Own Pet. And you have to love the cheesy nostalgia of “Drivin’ My Life Away” by Eddie Rabbitt!

Since this post was originally published, I’ve been reminded of a few other great road trip songs that I would consider adding to this list. Such as “Home” by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, “Drive My Car” by the Beatles, and “No Particular Place to Go” by Chuck Berry.

Which ones did I miss? What are your favorite driving songs and road trip songs? Leave a comment and let me know!

25 thoughts on “The Best Driving Songs: 18 Songs About Road Trips and Travel”

  1. Chaim Mattis Keller

    I see I’m quite late to this party. I’m a veteran family road tripper (just did four weeks from New York to Los Angeles and back last August) and I enjoy reading about others’ favorites as well.

    But more to the point – one song you’re missing here is “Movin’ Right Along” from the Muppet Movie soundtrack. Don’t think less of that movie because it’s Muppets – it’s a fantastic American road trip! It’s also wonderful to sing “America the Beautiful” while driving across the iconic American landscapes.

  2. Great post, thanks! We just used your whole list for our trip from DC to Houston, and added some add’l non-location specific suggestions below. You HAVE to have “Convoy”! We also had a
    a zillion location-specific songs in our playlist and realized that there must be more songs about the state of Texas than any other location in the world!

    – “CONVOY”!!!, C.W. McCall
    -“Going Up The Country”, Canned Heat
    – “Midnight Rider”, Allman Bros
    – “Rocket 88”, Ike Turner w/ Jackie Brenstow
    – “Slow Ride”, Foghat
    – “Road to Nowhere”, Talking Heads
    – “Low Rider”, War
    – “A Horse With No Name”, America
    – “Trucking’”, Grateful Dead
    – “Magic Carpet Ride”, Steppenwolf
    – “Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Cyndi Lauper & Ann Peebles
    – “I Drove All Night”, Cyndi Lauper
    – “Hold On, I’m Coming’”, Sam and Dave
    – “East Bound & Down”, Jerry Reed
    – “West Bound and Down”, Jerry Reed
    – “I’ll Take You There”, Staple Singers
    – “Crossroads Blues”, Robert Johnson
    – “Travelin’ Band”, Credence Clearwater Revival
    -“Highway to Hell”, AC/DC
    – “Driving Towards the Daylight”, Joe Bonamassa
    – “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, John Denver

  3. Hey gr8 songs you’ve added here, I’m gonna download all btw how about ‘high way to hell’ by ac/dc I always listen to this song when I’m on a trip its one of my all time best..

  4. Life is a Highway. In my opinion, the best version for road tripping is the one by Rascal Flatts from the movie CARS. As for the Tom Cochrane version, ah… not so much but I’ll take either song because they are both upbeat and very appropriate to sing while driving long distances!

    Road trips can be amazing as long as I have access to good music and my trusted friend, which is the best radar detector!

    I am not one who has the need for speed but I sometimes get really into my music or the scenery while driving that I forget myself and before I know it, look down and OH DARN, I am speeding. Just to add that extra reminder, I carry along my handy ipod & of course, radar detector.

  5. Tom Petty! Especially running down a dream, but so many others are pure classics and perfect for long drives.

  6. Yep, I put Tom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway at the top of my list too. He filmed the video for his amazing road trip tune in one of our all-time favourite road tripping places in Canada, the badlands of southeastern Alberta. An amazing place to drive where there’s no traffic (literally), lots of big sky,
    plenty of good – looking cowboys (well to me, anyway), and the best steak money can buy.

  7. What about Pet Shop Boy’s “Go West?” I suppose it only works if your heading to the left coast.

    We tend to listen to background music – dubstep and electronica mostly – so that we can have the awesome conversations that tend to happen in a road trip. Unless, of course, we are singing along to “In The Heights” or crying while listening to “Next to Normal.” Seriously.

    Fun post.

    1. Good suggestion, guys! I actually listen to a lot more than just “road trip songs” when I travel… especially atmospheric stuff like Sigur Ros, bluegrass, techno, and so on. I have a bunch of “essential ’80s” mixes that I play, which include a lot of Pet Shop Boys…

      In this post I was focusing on “the ultimate road trip cd,” but perhaps I should do a more general post discussing the best music to travel to. I bet the responses there would be all over the map.

      1. Oh god. We didn’t think this is what you actually listen to! Can you imagine 9000 miles of “Life is Highway?” 🙂

        Love the essential 80’s mix. i just through together a mix of Smiths, The Cure and Joy Division for a recent drive to Portland. That stuff feeds the soul.

  8. I like Motorhead’s “(We Are) The Road Crew.” Definitely recommend you check it out – great traveling lyrics with the typical Motorhead sound!

  9. Perfect timing! I’m just beginning to plan a road trip for August and I’m going to have to add some of these to my list. I know they don’t have specific driving themes, and I’m going to date myself here, but there are a few Dire Straits and Heart songs that I always want to blast when I’m on a road trip.

  10. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    We have awful taste in music. And we drive a lot, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get tired of our collection! Lady Gaga, 10-minute techno mixes, Ace of Base, Sublime’s first album… they’re okay on their own, but not when you’re listening to them all the freakin’ time. 😛

    So anyways, I have no suggestions to offer. None. Not a one. But I am definitely going to download all the songs you mentioned above!

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