Road Trip Songs - Create Your Own Soundtrack

There’s nothing like flying down the road listening to great music. There are those road trip songs you sing along to (badly, in my case, so I save this for when I’m alone), those songs that bring back memories, those songs that psych you up, and those songs that make you boogie in your seat!

One essential item to do before hitting the road - if you love music as much as I do - is to select your songs and create a "soundtrack" for your vacation by either burning CD’s or loading an MP3 player. You’ll enjoy your road trip more and every song will bring back memories of your adventure long after it’s ended.

Podcast Sign

Creating your soundtrack should be a group project with every passenger participating. This will guarantee that there’s something for everyone on it, making it truly yours as a team (which is what you definitely are if you’re on a road trip). You can get together and do it as a project, or if your calendars are too busy, have everyone submit their list of suggested tunes.

If there’s any disagreement about a suggestion, put it to a vote: majority wins. Not everyone is going to like every song, so don’t get bogged down trying to find songs that 100% of the group likes. Only eliminate a suggested song (that’s passed a general vote) if someone in the group deeply hates that song. One song that I absolutely hate is Paul Lekakis’s "Boom Boom Boom Let’s Go Back to My Room" from the 80’s. If I was forced to listen to that song, I would literally jump from a moving car to get away from it!

Here are suggested types of songs for your compilation:

  • Road or travel-themed songs like America’s "Ventura Highway" or Sheryl Crow’s "Every Day is a Winding Road". Include songs about cars or hotels or anything that has to do with your trip.
  • If there’s one about your destination, include it – if you’re going to Disneyland, include Dada’s "Dizz Nee Land". Any songs about states you’re passing through work, too. I love the Pretender’s "My City was Gone" when I’m passing through Ohio or "New York, New York" when I’m near Manhattan.
  • A must-have for any road trip is a recent hit/release that you can connect to your trip. It date-stamps your trip in your mind while adding a fresh element to the older favorites in your mix. Whenever I hear Eddy Grant’s "Electric Avenue" I’m fourteen again and on a road trip through Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Suddenly, I’m flat-chested and becoming friends with my recently divorced mother’s boyfriend’s daughters. We smoked our first cigarettes and unsuccessfully tried to meet boys near the motels where we stayed. I see it all again when I hear that song – the dusty towns, the ratty arcades, and the brilliant colors of the desert.
  • Each passenger should select one song to be their "theme song" for the trip. That’s "their" song when it comes on. This really adds a personal element to your song selection and it can be a lot of fun figuring out which song to choose. Even better, have each person choose something they will do whenever the song comes on. Let your imagination go wild – from doing a little dance, to putting on a hat, to running around the car when it’s stopped at the next red light – make it fun and a little crazy!
  • When you’re selecting, make sure that you’ve got mellower songs mixed with higher energy songs. A whole bunch of mellow songs will make you want to take a nap, and a collection of dance songs will make you jittery and annoyed eventually. A good rule of thumb is to have about two or three of each level of energy songs: You start with a two high energy, have a medium energy song, then two mellow songs before bringing it back up.
  • Try to keep like with like as far as types of music, so that you’re not all over the place in terms of style (Country, Rap, Disco, Rock). If you have a wide variety, try to keep them in small bunches. For example: have a few dance songs together, then a few country songs together, and then a few rock songs together. This keeps it from being too jarring. Just imagine going from some gentle soft rock song to heavy metal – yikes!
Hopefully, you’ll be able to compile a long list of songs; the longer the road trip, the more music you’ll need. If this feels like too much effort, just imagine being on the road, trolling the radio stations and finding….nothing! Not one song you can stand to listen to. You’re all talked out with your gang and you’re taking a break from playing road trip games. Wouldn’t you love to have some great tunes to play?

With your road trip soundtrack in hand, you’re ready for that moment, and ready to roll! Check out this list of the best road trip songs ever for more inspiration.


Return from Road Trip Songs to Planning Road Trips Home