20 Songs for Every Road Trip

What's a road trip without tunes?

6 months Discovery Channel

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Road trips are arguably one of the best ways to travel. Between witnessing some of the world’s untouched beauty to deep conversations with your close companions across open road, there’s something satisfying about getting from point A to B by seeing everything in between. That being said, being cooped up in a car for 6 hours might warrant a few yawns, stiff joints, and maybe even an argument or two. The key to making it through? A killer playlist. Whether you’re looking for the classic road-trip experience, or just decided to get away for the weekend, these 20 songs will cover all your road-tripping moods.

The Traditionalist

You’ve planned this road trip from start to finish: driving times, the cheapest gas stops, the best roadside cafe. If you’re looking for that typical open-road, old-school road trip vibe, these classics are for you:

1. Jack & Diane by John Mellancamp

This song will keep those yawns away while also reminding you to savour every moment of your adventure.

2. Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond

The best sing-a-long moment of this tune isn’t even a part of the lyrics, but the instrumental “bum, bum, bum” in every chorus.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Pro tip: learn all of the words before you hit the road, because there’s nothing more satisfying than belting out every verse on point (or as sad as sitting through this six-minute classic in silence).

4. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers

This song is sure to bring everyone together, purely just by clapping, stomping, thumping (you name it) along to arguably the catchiest song of all-time.

5. Bennie and the Jets by Elton John

You can b-b-b-bet on this song rounding out journey on a positive note. Be sure have the windows rolled down for this karaoke staple.

Home for the Holidays

You’re homeward-bound! Motivate your car ride with these tunes that’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy about heading wherever you call home.

1. Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

This folksy song will have leave you whistling its catchy melody while reminiscing on its heartwarming message: home is wherever I’m with you.

2. Back Again by Flor

The indie-pop tune is perfect for a late night drive, while the simple instrumental beat creates a soft yet upbeat atmosphere.

3. Sloop John B by The Beach Boys

This traditional folk song might be about “the worst trip [they’ve] ever been on,” but head-swaying melody will make you even more excited to go home.

4. Paradise by George Ezra

You might not be headed towards an actual tropical paradise, but this high-energy sing-along will put a smile on your face regardless.

5. Homeward Bound by Simon & Garfunkel

No song captures the love and warmth of home more than this 60s classic, making it the perfect grand finale for your journey.

A Girls’ Trip

Kick off your girls’ trip with songs all about female empowerment and pure badass-ery. From 90s girl bands to powerful and unapologetic solo female artists, GRL PWR is the name of the game.

1. No Scrubs by TLC

The title says it all: this trip is a scrub-free zone. Set the mood of your girls’ getaway by blasting this girl power anthem.

2. Flawless by Beyoncé ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This bop needs no introduction. With Adichie’s powerful philosophy on the contradictory expectations society places on women, Flawless will leave you feeling like your most confident and empowered self.

3. Independent Woman by Destiny’s Child

Windows down, volume all the way up. Make it known to everyone that you and your girls are strong, independent women.

4. I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston

Even after 30 years, this dance-pop bop will have you belting those high notes you know you can’t hit but try to hit anyways because this time around is your moment, right?

5. Truth Hurts by Lizzo

Why men great ‘til they gotta be great? Lizzo’s powerhouse and unapologetic tune will quickly become the theme song of your girls’ trip.

Spontaneous Weekend Getaway

So you’ve decided to hit the open road this weekend, because why not? It might be last-minute, but avoid the generic radio tunes with these songs you probably haven’t heard before!

1. Melanin Man by Brasstracks ft. Masego

The perfect cure for the mid-journey lull or post-lunch slump. Brasstrack’s distinctive jazz hip-hop track will rejuvenate you with smooth vocals and groovy riffs.

2. Smoke by Luke Levenson ft. YEBBA

Smoke offers the perfect change of pace without putting you to sleep. The exposed guitar chords and haunting vocals will have you singing along in no time.

3. Fine by Noah Kahan

This indie-pop tune is a reassuring reminder that even if you take a wrong turn, everything will be just fine.

4. Malt Liquor by Lewis Del Mar

If you’re looking for something new, Malt Liquor is sure to keep you on your toes. With an unpredictable slew of percussion sounds and guitar riffs, the electronic yet acoustic tune is one-of-a-kind.

5. Lost/Inside Our Minds by John Vincent III

The slow build of this acoustic ballad will keep spirits up, while the rhythmic guitar will have you tapping your foot along to the beat.

Words by Anisha Nallakrishnan