30 Of The Best Songs About Road Trips

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

While we love being at home or in places where we usually go on a regular basis, road trips hit differently. It satisfies our need for escape, to find a place that’s a breath of fresh air.

So when nature and open roads call your name, you need a soundtrack to match. Did you know that researchers have found that music can greatly enhance the travel experience, making your trip feel shorter and more enjoyable?

That’s why we’ve come up with 30 of the best songs about road trips to make every trip a memorable experience. Don’t hit the road without this playlist!

1. “Life Is A Highway” By Tom Cochrane

It’s no wonder why the highway is used as a metaphor for the journey of life in Tom Cochrane‘s “Life is a Highway.” We traverse the roads and experience ups and downs, twists and turns, and unexpected detours along the way.

It’s this mixture of positive and negative experiences that makes life an adventure. The roads represent the path to self-discovery and new experiences.

The song encourages us to embrace our journey. And like the song says, we need to make the most of every moment. It becomes all the more meaningful with people to accompany us on this road trip.

2. “On The Road Again” By Willie Nelson

Many musicians spend most of their time on the road. Willie Nelson captures that idea in his 1980 song “On the Road Again.”

The song celebrates the joy and excitement of a musician on a road trip. He loves making music and sharing it with the world, which often involves being in different places. But this is one of the parts of being a musician that he loves the most.

Truly, going from place to place has its allure. The song captures the spirit of wanderlust as the narrator is excited about seeing a new place but at the same time, sad that he may never see it again.

3. “Take It Easy” By Eagles

In our next song, the narrator sings about his quest for love. Eagles released “Take It Easy” in 1972 from their self-titled debut album.

Thematically, the title is the narrator’s advice for himself after being preoccupied by the idea that seven women all have feelings for him. Four of them want to possess him, two want to stone him, and one claims to be a friend.

In the context of road trips, the narrator hits the road in his attempt to “loosen my load.” The line “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy” means he should not let his thoughts control him.

4. “Ventura Highway” By America

Taking a road trip is synonymous with feelings of freedom and adventure. Just listen to America‘s “Ventura Highway,” and you’ll know what we mean.

The song follows the road trip that the narrator takes on a highway in California. There is no Venture Highway in real life, but the songwriter based it on the Pacific Coast Highway.

The lyrics reflect the sense of adventure with being on the open road. The song depicts the singer’s desire to explore new horizons and be in a different place. It also captures the allure of a road trip and experiencing the beauty of the West Coast.

5. “Born To Be Wild” By Steppenwolf

For bikers, the ultimate road trip anthem is Steppenwolf‘s “Born to be Wild.” The song was written by Mars Bonfire, who was inspired when he saw a poster of a motorcycle erupting out of the earth with fire around it. The poster had the words “Born to Ride.”

The lyrics describe the feeling of being born to ride and the thrill of riding a motorcycle. They evoke feelings of liberation as the singer traverses the open road.

With its heavy guitar riffs, this track has become synonymous with the freedom and adventure of going anywhere you want. It encourages listeners to embrace their wild side and explore new places.

6. “Route 66” By Chuck Berry

A song that pays tribute to one of America’s highways is Chuck Berry‘s “Route 66.” This is a pathway that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The song perfectly captures the spirit of adventure and exploration as the narrator advises his listeners to take the route he took to Los Angeles. The lyrics mention various cities and states that occupy more than 2000 miles of road.

The song also conjures up images of cruising down open roads, passing through small towns, and experiencing the diverse landscapes that make up America’s heartland.

7. “Highway To Hell” By AC/DC

Not only is “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC a staple rock and roll song. It’s also one of the best anthems for a road trip, the way it captures the spirit of hitting the open road.

Listening to this song gives you the feeling of freedom and being on an adventure. Despite the title, it talks about the excitement of having new experiences and discovering new places.

“Highway to Hell” metaphorically represents the rebelliousness and thrill of embracing life’s challenges head-on. Whether you’re on a cross-country road trip or simply cruising down the highway, blasting this classic song will instantly ignite your sense of wanderlust.

8. “Road Trippin'” By Red Hot Chili Peppers

Think about taking a trip with your favorite people. Sometimes it’s not the destination that matters but the experience you get while on the road. Such is the idea behind Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Road Trippin’.”

This song perfectly captures the joy of hitting the open road. It tells us to leave our worries behind, enjoy the journey, and appreciate the beauty of the world around us.

Moreover, this song with “road trip” in the title encourages people to take risks and try new things. It is about living life to the fullest and making the most of every moment with your trusted friends. The song’s laid-back feel makes it perfect for a road trip.

9. “Holiday Road” By Lindsey Buckingham

Road trip enthusiasts will appreciate Lindsey Buckingham‘s “Holiday Road.” When you listen to the song, you can’t help but smile and sing along.

With simple and repetitive lyrics, “Holiday Road” is the greatest vacation song ever. The title is used as a metaphor for life’s journey and is an invitation to escape the mundane life and take a memorable trip. It encourages listeners to embrace the joy that comes with discovering new places.

No wonder this song became an anthem for travelers and is often associated with summer vacations and road trips.

10. “I Drove All Night” By Cyndi Lauper

In our next song, “I Drove All Night” by Cyndi Lauper, the narrator is willing to go to great lengths just to be with her loved one.

The song highlights the narrator’s determination and longing to be with her lover. She is “dying to get to you,” and this desire to be with him drives her to hit the “long straight road ahead” to see him.

The driving beat, and Lauper’s passionate performance mirror the excitement associated with road trips. Through this song, we learn to pursue what we want with dedication and determination.

11. “King Of The Road” By Roger Miller

The timeless country song “King of the Road” by Roger Miller is a perfect addition to our list. Released in 1965, it describes the experiences of a hobo who travels from place to place. The song became an anthem for travelers and is often associated with the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

In the lyrics, we find a hobo who may not be rich materially (“a man of means, by no means”) but enjoys his freedom. A hobo is a migrant worker who travels and works. In the song, the narrator describes himself as the “king of the road.”

And by being such, he embraces his nomadic lifestyle. He has the freedom to be where he wants to be and enjoys the simplicity of life. The open highways and the fact that he is not tied to a certain place truly add allure to this lifestyle.

12. “Going Up The Country” By Canned Heat

There’s something healing and relaxing about the country. When you’re tired of the rat race of the city, then “Going Up the Country,” as Canned Heat‘s song says, might be the answer.

This bluesy anthem captures the spirit of adventure, freedom, and the allure of the open road. The narrator plans to go somewhere he has never been before and encourages his lover to join him.

Where he is going is “Where the water tastes like wine,” and they can “Stay drunk all the time.” This reflects a sense of excitement for what lies ahead of them.

13. “I’ve Been Everywhere” By Johnny Cash

One of the ultimate road-trip anthems is Johnny Cash‘s “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Someone who can say this has been to many adventures that come with traveling and exploring new places.

The song is from the perspective of a hitchhiker who grabs a ride in Winnemucca, Nevada. He and the kindly driver get to talking about the dusty and sandy road, to which he says that he’d been everywhere and seen enough.

Turns out he’s a frequent traveler who’d been from Reno to Minnesota, from Baraboo to Dodge City. He’d reached countless cities and even “crossed the desert’s bare” and “breathed the mountain air.”

14. “Ramble On” By Led Zeppelin

Up next is a song that holds a deep meaning in relation to road trips. Led Zeppelin‘s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page co-wrote “Ramble On” and released it in 1969.

To “ramble on” means to go from place to place, never settling in one place long enough. This is a concept that Plant embraced, particularly in his career after Led Zeppelin. He went from one project to another and even rejected the idea of a Led Zeppelin reunion.

Thematically, the narrator is in search of something meaningful such as love. He follows his heart to find his purpose and fulfillment. He has no time to stay in one place but desires to go “’round the world” in search of that one special girl.

15. “Running On Empty” By Jackson Browne

When you say you’re “running on empty,” it means you’re exhausted. But for Jackson Browne, his 2019 single “Running on Empty” has a more literal meaning.

Browne was inspired to write the song at a time when he was recording his album The Pretender. He drove back and forth to the studio with no gas, not bothering to gas up since the studio was nearby.

In the lyrics, the narrator feels the adrenaline as he watches “the road rushing under my wheels.” It mirrors the years he spent touring as an artist. He longs for stability amid the nomadic lifestyle of a musician on tour.

16. “Freeway Of Love” By Aretha Franklin

It’s a shame to waste the perfect weather and a beautiful day, especially when you have nothing else to do. Aretha Franklin suggests getting in your car and hitting the “Freeway of Love.”

This song, released in 1985, lends vibrant energy to our list of songs. In the context of road trips, “Freeway of Love” stirs a sense of joy and adventure. The narrator invites her lover on a road trip of a lifetime where they can discover new places.

In the song, the freeway of love is a metaphor for the path of love with no restrictions. And traversing the love highway stirs feelings of falling and being in love with the person you are traveling with.

17. “Going Back To Cali” By LL Cool J

If there’s an ode to a particular place and road-tripping, it’s LL Cool J‘s “Going Back to Cali.” The song was released in 1988 and is about taking a trip to sunny California.

The narrator plans to do that by driving a black Corvette with the top down. The song is full of imagery of being behind the wheel with the rear tires spinning and him listening to a cassette.

All in all, “Going Back to Cali” celebrates the vibrant culture of the state. The narrator is encouraging his listeners to hit the road and pay Cali a visit.

18. “Roadhouse Blues” By The Doors

Up next is The Doors‘ 1970 single “Roadhouse Blues.” You better listen to lead vocalist Jim Morrison when he says, “Keep your eyes on the road, Your hand upon the wheel.”

This energetic and bluesy rock song embodies the freedom and spontaneity of being on the road. The narrator invites his listeners to accompany him to the Roadhouse for a good time.

Morrison refers to Topanga Corral, a nightclub located near where he lived. The drive to the place involves twists and turns, which makes for a really adventurous road trip.

19. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” By John Denver

Did you think, for a minute, that we have forgotten about John Denver‘s classic, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”? After all, this song takes you on a journey through rural landscapes.

Released in 1971, this classic song is often heard playing from car radios as drivers hit the open road. The lyrics depict the desire to return home or find solace in a place where one feels connected to their roots.

This resonates with people who yearn for simpler times or seek refuge amid hectic modern lifestyles. The song evokes feelings of nostalgia and a longing for simplicity and nature. It urges you to travel to picturesque country roads and escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

20. “The Long And Winding Road” By The Beatles

As The Beatles‘ “The Long And Winding Road” will show you, not all road trips are fun and exciting. Some are riddled with loneliness. The bittersweet nature of the song owes it to the fact that The Beatles were on the verge of breakup when Paul McCartney penned the song.

The lyrics describe the sad feeling of being on a long and winding road and how it can be difficult to find your way. The title here could be a metaphor for the journey of life, which consists of ups and downs and twists and turns.

The road here symbolizes the path we take through relationships and experiences. Sometimes it’s a straight, flat road. Other times, it’s winding, and we feel lost.

21. “No Particular Place To Go” By Chuck Berry

Another Chuck Berry song to grace our list is “No Particular Place to Go.” It captures the spirit of hitting the open road with your loved one with no specific destination in mind.

The lyrics tell a story of freedom and adventure as Berry sings about driving around with his sweetheart. It’s about enjoying the thrill of the ride without any particular place they need to be. What’s important is being together and taking advantage of the spontaneity of the moment.

This song reminds us that sometimes the best journeys are those where we can simply enjoy the experience of being on the road, letting it take us wherever it may lead.

22. “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” By Billy Ocean

The catchy and playful song “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean was released in 1988 from the album Now That’s What I Call Music 11. It revolves around a man’s attraction to a woman and his desire for her to join him on a ride in his car.

The lyrics find the man being smitten by a woman he spots while out and about. Her beauty takes him, and right then and there, he is determined to pursue her.

The song expresses a sense of urgency as he invites her to get into his car and partake in an adventure with him. He is a confident and determined man who yearns for her to be a part of his life (“get outta my dreams”).

23. “Road Trippin'” By Dan + Shay

A song with “road trip” in the lyrics is “Road Trippin'” by country music duo Dan + Shay. This is the ultimate anthem to play when you and your besties go on a road trip together.

From the lyrics, you can glean a sense of freedom, adventure, and partaking in shared experiences with the people you love. The lyrics describe the excitement of riding in a car, putting your hands out of the window, and enjoying the wind on your face and hair.

This song celebrates the liberation and happiness that comes with taking a road trip. It encourages listeners to embrace the spontaneity of discovering new places and creating memories with trusted companions.

24. “Road Trip” By Maddy Ice

Up next is a song that mentions “road trip” as a way to leave worries behind. Maddy Ice‘s “Road Trip” was released in 2020 from her Summer Vibez album.

Thematically, the narrator urges her listeners to leave everything, including worries and monotonous life. Embarking on a road trip might be the answer to finding a better life somewhere.

Through the simple lyrics, the narrator shows how freeing taking a road trip can be. Feel the breeze, or maybe pull the windows down, as she traverses the highway. A different world awaits wanderlust and road-trippers.

25. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” By Tom Petty

Taking a road trip can be a metaphor for going after your dreams and embracing the journey of life. This is what Tom Petty‘s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” is all about. It explores themes of determination, adventure, and optimism.

The song opens with the narrator recalling one particular day with the sun up ahead. He was behind the wheel, with him and a friend listening to the radio. It was the perfect day for road-tripping.

But he was not just driving down the road. He was following the lead of a mystery and a dream that seemed to escape him. But behind the wheel, he felt like he could do anything.

26. “(It’s A) Long Lonely Highway” by Elvis Presley

Traveling through the road of life can feel like “(It’s a) Long Lonely Highway,” as Elvis Presley‘s song claims. This melancholic song depicts isolation and loneliness as the narrator travels through a long and desolate road.

Being alone can get really lonely, and it’s felt more when on a road trip without anyone with you. The solitary journey seems to be longer than usual, and the silence can be deafening and intolerable.

As the narrator embarks on a journey on his own, the road becomes a metaphor for the challenges he faces. The song captures that raw feeling when you’re longing for company.

27. “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses

Road trips and a paradise seem to be the right combination in Guns N’ Roses‘ 1989 single “Paradise City.” It can be interpreted as a commentary on the American Dream and the idea that anyone can achieve success if they work hard enough.

In the context of road trips, the narrator seeks a better life and embarks on a journey that’s similar to road trips. He asks to be taken home, which in this case is the paradise city “Where the grass is green, and the girls are pretty.” The paradise city is a metaphor for a place where he finds safety and comfort.

The song is perfect for a road trip because it captures the spirit of adventure and the desire to explore new places. It’s a song about taking risks and chasing your dreams, which are both important themes when it comes to traveling.

28. “Ramblin’ Man” By The Allman Brothers Band

Another song that captures the spirit of road trips is “Ramblin’ Man” By The Allman Brothers Band. Released in 1973, this classic will surely resonate with both adventure seekers and wanderers.

In the lyrics, the singer makes a statement about being born a rambling man. He pays tribute to the nomadic lifestyle and the freedom he enjoys from taking road trips often. Good for him, earning a living does not require him to stay in one place.

In the last verse, he’s leaving Nashville, Tennessee, for New Orleans. He’s in search of adventure on the bayou and new experiences in new places.

29. “Heads Carolina, Tails California” By Jo Dee Messina

The up-tempo song “Heads Carolina, Tails California” by Jo Dee Messina is perfect for a road trip. The song is about the excitement and adventure that comes with taking a road trip with the person you love.

The lyrics depict the spontaneity of deciding to leave through a coin toss: heads for Carolina and tails for California. It doesn’t matter where they end up. Whether they settle in the mountains or by the ocean, what’s important is that they’re together.

At its core, “Heads Carolina, Tails California” portrays the idea of embarking on a journey without a fixed destination. At the end of the day, it’s really all about the experience and the person you share the journey with.

30. “Graceland” By Paul Simon

Being on the road can provide you with much-needed contemplation about things. That’s the idea behind Paul Simon‘s “Graceland.”

In the lyrics, we find the narrator driving down the highway following the Mississippi Delta. He’s on his way to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, along with his nine-year-old son from a failed marriage.

But this is not just a physical journey they’re taking. The song is a metaphorical journey of self-discovery and healing. He is looking forward to being accepted and received once he has reached his destination.

Summing Up Our List Of Road Trip Songs

Did you like our compilation of songs today? We hope you did as much as we enjoyed going through each song.

What we like about the list is the variety of songs that are not just about the physical journey. Some of them are metaphors for the journey we take through life. They stir in us a sense of freedom and adventure by being on the road.

Whether you like classic rock anthems or modern hits, there is no shortage of songs to add to your ultimate road trip playlist. So buckle up, roll down the windows, and let these songs be the soundtrack for your next journey.

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.