highway passing in front of the Vermilion Cliffs

The 10 Best Songs For a Road Trip

I love road trips. If I’m not on a road trip, I’m either planning a road trip or dreaming about one. Since road trips and music go together like peanut butter and jelly or in my case – cheese dip and chips, I made a playlist of what I consider the best songs for a road trip. All of these tunes make me want to grab my bag and hit the road.

U2 | Beautiful Day

How can you listen to this song and not want to take a road trip and see the country? Even though the band is Irish, their Joshua Tree album was inspired by U2’s American tour experiences. They sing about, and mention some of our country’s best features – mountains, canyons, deserts. And who hasn’t been inspired by Joshua trees? Best lyrics:

“You’re on the road
But you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud
In the maze of her imagination”

a Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park based on U2 Joshua Tree album one of the best songs for a road trip

Traveller | Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton knows a few things about writing number one songs. He’s written six! You don’t write that many good songs without some real life experience and knowing a few things about being on the road. Best lyrics:

“And I’m just a traveller on this earth
Sure as my heart’s behind the pocket of my shirt
I’ll just keep rollin’ ’til I’m in the dirt
‘Cause I’m a traveller, oh, I’m a traveller”

Hotel California | The Eagles

Could your imagine hearing the opening chords of this song and NOT thinking about being on the road somewhere. Maybe Nevada or Baja Sur where the infamous Hotel California is said to be. At the very least, it taught us gringos a new word for marijuana. Best lyrics? Why the opening lines of course.

“On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas
Rising up through the air”

Highway to Hell | ACDC

If ever there was a road trip inspiration anthem, it’s this song. It also works well when you are actually on the road trip. Play it in the middle of the night to stay awake or during the day for some serious head banging that will make everyone wonder what you are listening to. Best lyrics:

“No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me around

A Thousand Miles From Nowhere | Dwight Yoakam

What can I say about Dwight Yoakam? He just looks like he might know a thing or two about road trips. Especially if you remember those things called videos. His cowboy hat, denim jackets and guitar playing on top of a moving train through some of the most beautiful parts of the county in his video will give you severe wanderlust. Best lyrics:

“I’m a thousand miles from nowhere
Time don’t matter to me
‘Cause I’m a thousand miles from nowhere
And there’s no place I want to be” 

Trains along side Interstate-40 in Arizona

Ramblin’ Man | The Allman Brothers Band

I just can’t help myself with this one and the shameless plug for a Southern Band. The fact that they name several of the best Southern cities, hail from Macon, Georgia and mention highway 41, one of the busiest highways in the country, it was a given. Let’s ride y’all! Best lyrics:

“I’m on my way to New Orleans this mornin’
Leaving out of Nashville, Tennessee
They’re always having a good time down on the bayou
Lord, and Delta women think the world of me”

Panama | Van Halen

When David Lee Roth sings about easing the seat back, you know it’s time for a road trip. Panama is one of those feel good 80’s songs, about a car (maybe), that you just can’t help but sing along to and be inspired by. Best lyrics:

“She’s blinding, I’m flying
Right behind the rear-view mirror now
Got the feeling, power steering
Pistons popping, ain’t no stopping now” 

Peace of Mind | Boston

As I was writing this, I realized I don’t know a lot about the band called Boston. Only that I love their music and it was so hard to pick one favorite song but I think this is it. It’s definitely one of the best songs for a road trip. Best lyrics:

“And time doesn’t wait for me, it keeps on rollin’
Sail on, on a distant highway
I’ve got to keep on chasin’ a dream, yeah
I’ve gotta be on my way

Free and Easy | Dierks Bentley

With ten albums under his belt, so many of Dierks’ songs are about life on the road. His genre may be country but he includes a little bluegrass, some lovely ballads and enough sing-a-longs about trucks and driving, that anyone would be inspired to grab their keys to hit the road. Dierks continues to see time on my playlists again and again. Best lyrics:

“I could make a million or wind up broke
Free and easy down the road I go
Can’t take it with you when you go, so
Free and easy down the road I go” 

When You Were Young | The Killers

Choosing just one song by The KIllers was tough. Carry Me Home, All These Things I’ve Done, Somebody Told Me and Human are all favorites that make me want to jump in the car, roll down my windows and drive off into the sunset. Ultimately, When You Were Young won because we all wish we were young again so we could take more road trips. Best lyrics:

“We’re burning down the highway skyline
On the back of a hurricane that started turning
When you were young
When you were young”

Best Songs on a Road Trip Round-Up

So there you have it. Ten of my favorite and best songs for a road trip. If you have Spotify, here’s the link to the playlist if you want to give it a listen in real time.

Are you ready to road trip now? Read my How to Plan a Road Trip and start planning your own road trip.

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