One of the best ways to see the world and experience its many wonders is to plan a road trip. But it’s easy to zone out and get bored when driving on those seemingly endless highways. You could just throw on the radio, but you’d be missing out. A road trip is the perfect time to curate a playlist. A carefully chosen playlist can entertain you, keep you alert and on your toes, and even add to the overall experience.
Heading out on a road trip is about feeling free and looking forward to whatever comes next. The right song can seamlessly mesh those two goals together and make you forget about the day-to-day grind you’re taking a break from. Although the lyrics of this song may not be about driving, this Alanis classic grants you the freedom to sing loud and proud and put the pedal to the metal.
You could pull any song off of the legendary hip hop duo’s “Aquemini,” and it would fit perfectly on a road trip playlist. If you had to narrow it down to just one song, it has to be “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” There’s just something about the warmth of the track and the way the horns hit that makes you want to roll the window down, lean back, and vibe.
The Doobies have been around for decades, and they’ve written all kinds of fun, go-to songs about the human condition and cool places they’d been. “Rockin’ Down the Highway” was released in 1972 on the group’s second album, “Toulouse Street,” and puts you right on the road with them. The upbeat, vibrant tempo and those famous harmonized vocals are perfect for getting you in the right frame of mind for the miles ahead.
When Vanessa Carlton debuted with this song in 2002, she guaranteed she would have a spot on every road trip playlist for decades to come. Everyone loves the iconic piano riff, but the song’s driving drums and Carlton’s bubbly vocals are what make it such a legendary driving tune. When this pop hit comes over the car stereos, everyone around immediately becomes Terry Crews in “White Chicks.”
There’s little doubt that this hit song from the mid-1960s has inspired lots of behind-the-wheel adventures over the last 60 years. It’s about a woman whose boyfriend gifts her a new Mustang, and he’s lamenting that she’d rather “Ride, Sally, Ride” than spend time with him. It’s the ultimate getaway, let-your-hair-blow-in-the-wind kind of road song.
Although this catchy song was first released in 1988, a lot of people may not have heard it until it was included in the soundtrack for the 1993 romantic comedy “Benny & Joon,” starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson. The toe-tapping beat and buoyant lyrics sound best with the volume turned up, the windows rolled down, and nothing but the blacktop road ahead.
You know a jam is a good road trip song when everyone in the car loves it. “Gin and Juice” from Snoop Dogg’s debut “Doggystyle” is one of those songs. It is impossible to resist nodding along to the sampled bass line from “I Get Lifted” and rapping along to Snoop Dogg’s smooth flow, whether you’re an old hip hop head or a headbanging metal purist.
Sometimes, if the beat of a song is too fast, you might just find yourself breaking a few speed limits. Leave it to The Beatles to come up with this 1965 gem with the perfect tempo to help you avoid a speeding ticket. But fair warning, you’ll still be tapping your toes or trying to harmonize with Lennon and McCartney’s vocals, so keep those eyes on the road.
Some road trips aren’t about blaring music and belting lyrics at the top of your lungs. Sometimes you need the opposite — a song that lets you feel free and “just ride.” Lana Del Rey’s “Ride” is a beautifully melancholic masterpiece that immediately summons feelings of nostalgia and visions of a different life, making it great for those long, introspective journeys. Make sure you can handle the song's emotional weight, as tears can be a driving hazard.
Sometimes, after a long road trip of endless barren landscapes, odd climates, and an array of unfamiliar food, you dream of being back home in your own bed, watching YouTube videos and snacking on crunchy hot cheese curls. While this song may not be the most uplifting, its easy-to-sing lyrics share empathy with travelers who’ve been away for too long. The tune will serenade your journey back to familiar surroundings and remind you that there’s no place like home.