Head Out On The Highway: The 25 Best Road Trip Songs

From backseat singalongs to nomadic anthems, the best road trip songs capture the feeling of freedom that’s sometimes just a car ride away.

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The requirement for any good road trip is great songs. Whether you’re embarking on a solo trip down the highway or gathering for a vacation with friends and family, you’re going to need some tunes to keep you company along the way. We’ve collated classic driving songs from throughout the eras and assembled the best road trip songs to fire up as you head out on the open road.

Listen to some of the best road trip songs for your next vacation on Apple Music and Spotify.

25: Youngblood Hawke: We Come Running

With its driving beat and epic build up, this indie-pop song from LA pop-rockers Youngblood Hawke will get you revving down the highway. They spell it out directly, inviting the listener to head “for the open door, tell me what you’re waiting for”.

24: blink-182: What’s My Age Again?

In just under two and a half minutes, blink-182’s ‘What My Age Again’ is pop-punk perfection. This song cooks and there’s nary a second wasted, which is exactly what you want in the best road trip songs.

23: The Killers: Mr Brightside

Pomp, bombast, killer riffs and melodies is one way to set you free, even when stuck in traffic. “Mr. Brightside” from The Killers’ debut album, Hot Fuss, is the rare road trip song that can get you through the traffic blues and out of the “cage” that is the daily grind.

The Killers - Mr. Brightside (Official Music Video)

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22: Nirvana: Breed

Just like Appetite For Destruction, Nirvana’s Nevermind features an endless array of road trip songs, but there’s one standout track that sounds like burning rubber. With its blast of feedback and machine-gun intensity, “Breed” will get everybody headbanging in the backseat.

21: Sammy Hagar: I Can’t Drive 55

This is a classic highway vacation song. If the Red Rocker can’t you get to go past the speed limit (which we’re not officially condoning), nothing else will. Sammy Hagar’s breakout solo single has been blasting out of every car stereo since 1984, and has never stopped.

Sammy Hagar - I Can't Drive 55

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20: Katy Perry: Teenage Dream

When there’s a long stretch of road ahead, sometimes you want psychedelic acid rock where you can put cruise control on and zone out, but when you’re traveling on vacation with a crew, singalong pop anthems are the best road trip songs. Katy Perry’s ode to the endless possibilities of adolescence will have you sticking your head out the sunroof like a drunk teen on prom night.

19: Warren G (featuring Nate Dogg): Regulate

Few songs encapsulate an entire era better than this 1994 G-funk classic. Between Warren G’s storytelling and Nate Dogg’s smooth vocals, this is the song you can blast whether you’re cruising in your drop top or mid-sized sedan.

Warren G - Regulate (Official Music Video) ft. Nate Dogg

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18: John Mellencamp: Pink Houses

This slice of heartland rock isn’t all that it seems. John Mellencamp seems to paint the perfect picture of the American dream, but if you keep listening, it’s really the indictment of a broken system. On one hand it remains a misunderstood political song but on the other, it’s a great road trip song.

17: The Rolling Stones: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Tapping into that feeling of wanderlust, The Rolling Stones’ search for satisfaction landed them their first No.1 hit. From Charlie Watts’ propulsive drumming to Mick Jagger’s cracking vocals and Keith Richards’ fuzz-box riff, “Satisfaction” beckons you to the road and the dancefloor.

16: U2: Where The Streets Have No Name

Like the morning’s first light coming over the desert highway, this U2 anthem begins with the sound of heavenly organs that quickly build to a driving rhythm led by The Edge’s arpeggiated guitar lines. Political origins aside, the song conjures images of the American West and the open road. It’s hard not to feel nostalgia when you glide in and out of traffic.

U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name (Official Music Video)

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15: Guns N’ Roses: Appetite For Destruction

Forget road trip songs, this is a road trip album. From the menacing “Welcome To The Jungle” to the soaring “Rocket Queen” that closes Guns N’ RosesAppetite For Destruction, you won’t find an album of songs better suited to a road trip vacation than this.

14: Dr. Dre: Let Me Ride

Any G-funk track is made for driving, but this cut from The Chronic is the ultimate road trip song. Between the Parliament-sampling chorus and Dre’s evocative verses, “Let Me Ride” was tailor-made for summer driving… and is even better if you’re cruising around in a drop top.

Dr. Dre | Let Me Ride | Interscope

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13: Bob Seger: Hollywood Nights

While Bob Seger sings about “looking down at the lights of LA” in this 1978 hit, the anticipation of a night on the town is universal. Seger’s frantic vocals and epic storytelling, combined with the uptempo music, is the perfect formula to speed towards the horizon.

Hollywood Nights (Remastered 2011)

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12: Cyndi Lauper: I Drove All Night

Some people escape the “sticky and cruel” city by seeking solace in the great outdoors. Not Ms. Lauper. Her vocal calisthenics are just the motivation to drive all night to see your lover.

11: Snoop Dogg: Gin And Juice

Another slice of G-funk heaven. You don’t need hydraulics to roll with the melodic flow of “D-O-double-G.” Released during the heyday of gangsta rap, Snoop took the wild antics of his hometown, Long Beach, and turned them into an idyllic summer jam.

Snoop Dogg - Gin And Juice

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10: Jackson Browne: Running On Empty

Few artists embodied the late 70s Laurel Canyon sound quite like Jackson Browne. “Running On Empty” isn’t a hard road rocker, but Browne could turn the most mundane experiences (like running out of gas) into a metaphor for missing out on the connections in life.

9: The Beatles: Day Tripper

The Beatles have an endless catalogue of travel tunes, from “Ticket To Ride” to “Drive My Car,” but “Day Tripper” is the real road trip song. Featuring one of the best guitar riffs of all time, “Day Tripper” is not so much about a quick getaway but about trying on the hippie lifestyle for a day or two.

Day Tripper (Remastered 2015)

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8: Stevie Wonder: Master Blaster (Jammin’)

This could be included among the best vacation road trip songs for the intro alone, but the whole thing swings with a swagger that won’t (hopefully) have you swerving from side-to-side. Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Bob Marley saw Stevie moving away from his typical one-man show and inviting a whole crew to boogie down.

Master Blaster (Jammin')

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7: Willie Nelson: On The Road Again

Country music is littered with dirt-road anthems, but one of the true classics is Willie Nelson’s ode to the nomadic life, “On The Road Again.” Nelson was tasked with creating an original song for the aging rocker character he played in the film Honeysuckle Rose. Willie delivered and nabbed an Oscar nomination in the process.

6: Tom Cochrane: Life Is A Highway

Canadian treasure Tom Cochrane is a household name up north, but in rest of the world he’s best known for this highway song anthem that’s become the perfect pep talk for hitting tarmac.

Tom Cochrane - Life Is A Highway (Official Video)

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5: Prince: Little Red Corvette

Prince seemingly never suffered from either writer’s block or a shortage of sexual metaphors, as evidenced on his 1983 classic, “Little Red Corvette.” This tale of an ill-fated one-night stand was supposedly inspired by his bandmate Lisa Coleman’s pink Edsel, but “little red Edsel” just isn’t as catchy a refrain.

4: The Beach Boys: Fun, Fun, Fun, I Get Around

Both of these Beach Boys tunes helped define the 60s driving culture, particularly in the winding highways of Southern California. Tight harmonies and terrific rhythms, these songs will transport you to the windswept cliffs of the Pacific Coast Highway, driving along with the top down.

I Get Around (Stereo)

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3: Tom Petty: Runnin’ Down A Dream

“Free Fallin’” is a great singalong, but when it comes to essential Tom Petty road trip tunes, “Runnin’ Down A Dream” takes the cake. Thanks to the highway imagery and scuzzy guitar riffs, this hard-charging song is best listened to with the windows down and your foot on the gas.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - Runnin' Down A Dream (Official Music Video)

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2: Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run

No survey of the best road trip songs would be complete without The Boss. Bruce Springsteen’s entire body of work unpacks the experience of small-town living and the feeling that escape is just a car ride away.

1: Steppenwolf: Born To Be Wild

You don’t need a bike or road leather to blare this Steppenwolf classic. Most famously featured in the film Easy Rider, Jon Kay’s invitation to “head out on the highway” is a song that became an American anthem and a call for rebellion.

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Honorable Mentions

Looking for more great road trip playlist songs for your next vacation? With compulsively sing-along lyrics, these tunes are perfect for lonely highways where you just want to shout out your open car window.

John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads
The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
The Eagles – Take It Easy
Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way
Sheryl Crow – Everyday Is A Winding Road
The Grateful Dead – Truckin’
Toto – Africa
Arcade Fire – Keep The Car Running
Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack
Bon Jovi – Living on a Prayer
Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits
Don McLean – American Pie
The Allman Brothers – Midnight Rider
Outkast – Hey Ya
Rascal Flatts – Life Is A Highway
Van Morrison – Bright Side of the Road
Sufjan Stevens – Chicago
Rihanna – Shut Up And Drive
The Eagles – Hotel California
The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man
Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Simon & Garfunkel – America
Pointer Sisters – I’m So Excited
ABBA – Waterloo
Dolly Parton – 9 to 5
Billy Joel – Piano Man
Paul Simon – Graceland

Looking for more options? Check out our list of the best songs about cars and driving.



  1. Dave

    June 26, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Golden Earring – Radar Love

  2. Joe

    June 27, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Mountain Jam, The Allman Brothers Band

  3. Ivan

    August 2, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Neil Young : White Line, DriveBy, Albuquerque, Trans Am

  4. Tom

    September 21, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Radar Love

  5. Joanne Nagen

    September 25, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    John Hartford Steam Powered Aeroplane; Joe Bonamassa Drive; Govt Mule Travellin Tune; Greatful Dead Truckin;Jerry Reed’s Eastbound and Down …..as Roy Rogers said Happy Trails to you Thanks

  6. Kristyn

    September 25, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    “It’s a Car!” by Sean Morin is a little-known but extremely fitting, perfect vibe, catchy little road trip song.

  7. Mike Einhorn

    May 28, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Bruce Springfield?

  8. Terry

    September 18, 2021 at 7:27 am

    Rolling Down the Highway – BTO
    Rockin’ Down the Highway – DOOBIE BROTHERS
    Highway Star – DEEP PURPLE

    How’s these NOT make the list?

  9. Belvin Sweatt

    January 7, 2022 at 1:08 am

    You left out the best one—
    Sniff and The Tears—Drivers Seat.

  10. Brian

    January 7, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    Here is my Road Trip playlist:
    Windows are Rolled Down – Amos Lee
    Call Me The Breeze – Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Florabama – JJ Grey & Mofro
    Mustang Sally – Buddy Guy f. Jeff Beck
    Going to California – Led Zeppelin
    Hotel California – Eagles
    Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
    Tangled Up in Blue – Bob Dylan
    Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
    Joy – Lucinda Williams
    Breakdown – Jack Johnson
    Comin’ Home – Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Take the Long Way Home – Supertramp
    Till the Sun Comes Up – Jack & Weatherman

  11. Tony

    June 3, 2023 at 5:42 am

    The triffids – Wide Open Road

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