10 Best Road Trip Songs
Choosing the best road trip songs is essential to any successful journey. Without a carefully curated playlist, the memories of your trip will have no signature soundtrack -- and you'll be at the mercy of your passengers' musical tastes.
It's imperative to choose the right tracks for your mix -- not only road trip songs that reflect your wandering ways, but also songs that will be fun for the whole crew to sing along with. To help you compile an effective road trip playlist, we've put together a list of 10 can't-miss country songs to get you started.
Kick off your mix with a classic traveling tune. "On the Road Again" is a Willie Nelson staple that encapsulates the simple freedom and happiness of the lifestyle of a carefree wanderer. In this song, life is not as complicated as we make it out to be -- playing music with friends is all it takes to be content. This old-school country song has a guaranteed spot on our best road trip songs playlist.
Road trip songs are not just about the road itself. To create a high-quality compilation, you must also include songs everyone can sing along with during the trek. Darius Rucker’s hit version of Old Crow Medicine Show’s "Wagon Wheel" is the perfect choice for such an occasion. You’ll be humming the chorus long after you’ve reached your destination.
"Highway Vagabond" is one of the key tracks from Lambert's epic double album The Weight of These Wings, and it's a must for the best road trip songs. The loose, easy feel of the track is perfect for driving and Lambert's lyrics capture the feel of a long road trip: "Highway vagabonds, living like hippies / Moving right along to the next big city / Okay, jump off the exit / Truck stop, rest stop, next stop Texas / Caravan like a wild west show / I don't care, man, as long as we go."
There's nothing worse than being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic -- especially on a road trip. Rodney Atkins feels your pain in his hit, "Take a Back Road." Though this relaxing tune may not actually give you a back road escape to freedom, it may at least help calm your nerves while you wait.
This timeless tale of a ramblin' man is an easy pick for a road trip mix. Released in 1996, Johnny Cash's cover of the 1962 Hank Snow song features his signature gravelly voice and a classic chugging train beat, setting the tone for a voyage on the scenic route as you weave your way through the continental U.S. You might not be able to hit all the places on Cash's list, but hey, you have to start somewhere.
Dierks Bentley actually documents a road trip in "Every Mile a Memory," a mid-tempo track that takes a look back at a relationship as the narrator hits the open road. "Country roads, old theater marquee signs / Parkin' lots, and billboards flyin' by / Spanish moss, little hick town squares / Wild roses on a river bank / Girl, it's almost like you're there," he sings, reminiscing about better days.
If anyone knows what it’s like to put miles behind them on the interstate, it’s touring musicians. "I Play the Road" describes what it’s like to be on the road all the time -- the good and the bad -- and reflects that keep-on-keepin'-on feeling of pushing on toward your next destination. It’s a perfect road trip song, both in its folk-country style and highway-weary lyrics. The stellar key change toward the song's end will give you that little boost of energy you need to get through to the next exit.
From the first note of "Cruise," it's nearly impossible to not join in. It's perfectly singable -- let's be honest, the verses and bridge are really just short intermissions between catchy choruses -- but that's what makes it great. Even if one of your passengers has been living under a rock and never heard the song before, they will be belting it along with everyone else in no time. On top of being a first-rate country-pop tune, "Cruise" even describes exactly the scene you're trying to create: windows down, radio up, cruisin'. No respectable list of road trip songs would be complete without this track.
This song instantly transfers you to a sunny day on the open road, wind blowing through your hair, without a care in the world. The simple joy of the mandolin and guitar hooks make it impossible to be anything but happy when this song is blaring; its driving four-on-the-floor rhythm is energizing. "Days Go By" makes us feel like today, we could do anything, which is exactly what you want in a quality road trip song.
It's a somewhat obvious choice, sure. But we challenge you to turn on "Life Is a Highway" while driving down the interstate and not feel like all is right in the world. Its timeless guitar riff will perk up anyone's ears. Rascal Flatts' cover of the Tom Cochrane classic is refreshing, and Gary LeVox' vocals bring a smooth, cheerful tone to the song. It’s the ultimate tune to accompany a cross-country adventure, which is why it tops our list of the best road trip songs.