The best road trip songs evoke a sense of liberation, sometimes just a car ride away, from backseat singalongs to blaring anthems.
Great songs are a must for any good road trip. Whether taking a solo trip down the highway or planning a vacation with friends and family, you’ll need some music to keep you company. We’ve collected classic driving songs from all eras and compiled the best road trip songs to listen to as you hit the open road.
The magic of road trip music
Every great road trip has a soundtrack. If you’ve ever been on a fantastic and memorable road trip, you’ve probably got a song, album, or artist that brings it all back. Only a few notes can evoke the sights, smells, and memories of that particular time in your life.
Indeed, science shows that music played during significant events in our lives helps us recall those images more vividly. Experts explain that “music helps since it provides a groove and rhyme, and sometimes assonance, which helps to unlock that details with cues.” The song’s structure, as well as the melody and images evoked by the lyrics, help us remember it.
So, when it comes to long road trips, music is more than just entertainment. It also aids in the preservation of precious memories for future generations. Another study on music listening in cars found that many people enjoy listening to music while driving because it makes the journey feel shorter or helps keep the kids entertained.
Preparing a playlist for the road trip
Once you’ve decided to prepare your music for travel listening, you have a few options to consider. However, car safety should also play an important role when preparing music in the car. When driving, you should avoid being distracted by looking at devices such as your phone.
For safety sake, prepare your playlist and set it to play before you get in the car. When making your playlist, consider your preferences, your passengers, the landscape you’ll be driving through, and your final destination. Epic music, for example, is ideal for driving through breathtaking scenery.
Some folks may choose to listen to the radio while driving. Again, it’s smart to set the radio to your preferred station and adjust the volume levels before departing to avoid distractions on your journey. Although safety is a concern when preparing music for a drive, listening to music has little or no effect on safety levels. Nearly 80% of drivers reported never getting lost or missing a turn or green light while listening to music.
An OG Playlist for Road Trips
- Prince’s Little Red Corvette
It doesn’t take a B.A. in poetry to figure out that this ditty has nothing to do with automobiles. Coupés are women in Prince’s world; the horsepower and gas in his lyrics are euphemisms for racy things that have nothing to do with races, either! The beat is slow, with synthetic drums echoing into the distance, just as the Purple One begs his one-night stand to extend it to two, three, or more nights.
- Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City
When you’ve found your Paradise City during your trip, you know it’s time for this hard rock classic.
- Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again
Has your relationship recently hit the rails? There’s nothing like a road trip to cheer you up. You’ve made your decision. You’re not wasting any more time. So tease your hair, put on your pleather, and blast this 1982 hit—don’t get stuck in traffic.
- Don’t Stop Me Now and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
Nothing can stop you with these epic rock songs blasting from your speakers! (Play them both!)
- The B-52s’ Love Shack
“Arrive in my Chrysler! It’s the size of a whale and is about to set sail!” On this all-time excellent party song, Fred Schneider booms. It’s difficult to dance like no one’s watching when you’re driving, but Love Shack will liven up any road trip.
- Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light
It’s one of the best couples rocking duets to be singing at the top of your lungs while driving down the highway – and (if you listen to the album version) at over 8 minutes long, it’ll keep you entertained!
- Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama
Singing along to Southern Boogie Rock will wake you back up if you’re starting to feel a little droopy.
- When the Going Gets Tough by Billy Ocean
We understand that any road trip has its bumps. So, when the going gets tough, turn on this song.
- Arcade Fire’s Keep the Car Running
If there’s one thing that defines Arcade Fire’s sound, it’s urgency—and nowhere is that more apparent than on Keep the Car Running, from the band’s super noir, grandiose 2007 album ‘Neon Bible.’
- The Grateful Dead’s Truckin
Let us pause to recognize that this road trip song has been designated a national treasure by the United States Library of Congress. Mmmm. The catchy, bluesy shuffle, written and performed collaboratively by Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and lyricist Robert Hunter, turns the band’s misfortunes on the road into a metaphor for navigating life’s constant changes.
It’s Science, Man
The Pandora research study’s findings clearly show that travelers incorporate music in some way or another during their travel experience.
Music is an important, if not critical, component of any road trip. The power of music will assist you in concentrating and recalling some of the best memories from your trip. Keep safety in mind when deciding what music to listen to and how to listen to it. And don’t get too carried away singing – music will be both a safe and enjoyable part of your road trip this way.
Find your perfect Road Trip vehicle at any one of Car Credit’s Tampa Bay locations:
3923 East Hillsborough Avenue, Tampa
2902 West Hillsborough Avenue, North West Tampa
2008 US Highway 19 North, Holiday
108 North US Highway 41, Ruskin