Best Road Trip Songs: Hit Play Then Hit the Gas

best road trip songs header image

Ah, the open road! It beckons us to cast aside responsibility, embrace the unknown, jump in the car, and just … go.

This playlist has been sizzling on the sun-scorched dashboard of a muscle car to give you the high-octane, rock ‘n roll-fueled power you need to hit the long and winding road with all pistons firing. And though it’s near impossible (as always) to pick favorites, some roadside landmarks of note are highlighted on the road trip planner below.

Best Road Trip Songs


“Road Trippin'” by Red Hot Chili Peppers “Going Up the Country” by Canned Heat “Put the Message” in the Box by World Party “Holiday Road” by Lindsey Buckingham “Ventura Highway” by America “Road Trip” by Chance Encounter
“On the Road Again” by Canned Heat “Running On Empty” by Jackson Browne “Range Life” by Pavement “Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross “Take It Easy” by Eagles “Road Trippin’” by Band of Frequencies
“The Passenger” by Iggy Pop “Life in the Fast Lane” by Eagles “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads “Road Trippin’” (Punch Drunk Dub) by WD4D “Budapest” by George Ezra “Roadtrip” by Bassti
“Radar Love” by Golden Earring “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors “Roadtrip with the Homies” by Drips Zacheer “Summer Road Trip” by Relajacion y Guitarra Acustica “The High Road” by Broken Bells
“Runnin’ Down a Dream” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “All Right Now” by Free “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf “Roadtrips” by Raiza Biza “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson “Farther on Down the Road” by Taj Mahal
“Middle of the Road” by Pretenders “Go Your OwnWay” by Fleetwood Mac “Free Ride” by The Edgar Winter Group “Little Red Corvette” by Prince “Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley “Midnight Ride” by The Allman Brothers Band
“Can’t Get There From Here” by R.E.M. “Interstate Road Trip” by Steve Ronald Ouimette “Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire “Road Trip” by Samwise “King of the Road” by Roger Miller
“Stickshifts and Safetybelts” by Cake “Band on the Run” by Paul McCartney and the Wings “Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers “On the Road” by Keep Shelly in Athens “Good to on the Road Back Home” by Cornershop

“Road Trippin'” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

The bulk of this mix is rocking but, to get things started, we warm up the engine with the definitive ode to automobile wanderlust in the form of RHCP’s “Road Trippin'”. Anthony Kiedis and company’s homage to traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway is a rare, percussion-free, acoustic track for the Peppers. “Let’s go get lost anywhere / right here in the USA” proves an apt catch phrase as this emotive and stirring track greases the wheels quite nicely for the more raucous affair to follow (realized most immediately via Canned Heat’s “On The Road Again”).

“Can’t Get There From Here” by R.E.M.

R.E.M. has given the world a wide variety of colors, shapes, and vibes when it comes to their extensive music catalog. “Can’t Get There From Here” off their third album Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) was one of their earliest (almost) hits (of sorts), featured prominently in the early days of MTV’s 120 Minutes on Sunday nights. Augmented by an uncommon horn section, R.E.M.’s signature guitar-driven sound still comes through as Michael Stipe and Mike Mills feast on the confusion of interpreting the map in the days before GPS.

“Put the Message In the Box” by World Party

It’s hard to understand how World Party never broke through the glass ceiling of the ’90s to become a proper rock ‘n roll sensation. They had the cool, catchy songs; a Beatles-worshiping leader; and a whole lot of universal observations via said leader, Karl Wallinger. We’re till not exactly sure what message Wallinger is putting in the box, but the notion of the road being wide open to the heart of every man makes for some top-notch road trippiness.

“On the Road” by Keep Shelly In Athens

The strangely named Keep Shelly In Athens is the unique combination of Greek musician and producer RΠЯ and a variety of female singers (presently Australian novelist andpoet Jessica Bell). Adding sensuality and lyrical depth to down-tempo electronica and its derivative, niche chillwave genre, Keep Shelly In Athens provides a dreamy, electro-pop take on road trippery. As Bell muses “Out on the road / where the eagles sing with the tide / When I’m driving through my mind / I forget / all the lonely sounds / of the sun,” one can’t help but bop along for the ethereal journey.

“The High Road” by Broken Bells

Super producer Danger Mouse (aka Brian Joseph Burton) first came to fruition by deftly mashing up The Beatles’ The White Album with Jay-Z’s The Black Album to create the remarkable Grey Album. He’s since collaborated with Cee-Lo Green as Gnarls Barkley (giving us the globe dominating “Crazy” back in 2009) and produced records for Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Beck (to a name a few). His ongoing project, Broken Bells, with Jeff Mercer of The Shins has generated some of his finest work in creating beat based tunes with alternative rock sensibilities. And though “The High Road” is more metaphorical in its lyrical content, “The high road is hard to find / A detour to your new life / Tell all of your friends goodbye,” this laid-back groove keep us keeping on down the road to the bittersweet end.

May this mix help you hit your optimal speed, set the cruise control, and drink deeply from the mythical essence of life on the road (while making Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady proud)! Drive safe!