Travel and adventure are healing to the human spirit. Seeing new places and having new experiences is always exciting. If you’re planning a trip, listening to songs about traveling is always a great way to get even more excited about the trip.
The list of songs below will certainly get you mentally prepared for your trip. We’ve included a wide range of songs from all music genres, so we’re confident you’ll find many songs that you love. If you’re interested, we also have a perfect playlist for vacations.
Table of Contents
1. Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf
“Born To Be Wild” is a road trip classic. The song is the third single of the American-Canadian rock band Steppenwolf in their eponymous debut album and their most successful hit. Initially written by musician Mars Bonfire as a ballad, the track is a pure rock performance, with the song lyrics even spelling this out as “heavy metal thunder.” Its memorable riff, pulsing beat, and motor-on-the-highway lyrics have made the song an anthem to both biker culture and mosh pits. It’s a great song to put on while the car rolls down the streets to start a good long drive. This song was a massive hit and won the RIAA gold record award. Pretty much everyone has heard this song, and even today, it’s very popular.
2. A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton
|Album||Be Not Nobody|
The debut single from American pop artist Vanessa Carlton, “A Thousand Miles,” placed the singer at the top of the charts and on the road to commercial success. The song is friendly to the ear from the first hook, with its tinkling piano keys played by Carlton, meshed with a harmony of strings. Carlton wrote the song inspired by a crush to whom she never managed to confess. Music can speak more than simple words do, and building from its origin story, the song encourages a journey just to meet that special someone. Fun fact: the song was prominently featured in the cult hit comedy film, “White Chicks.”
3. Leaving On A Jetplane by Chantal Kreviazuk
|Album||Armageddon: Motion Picture Soundtrack|
The song “Leaving On A Jetplane” traces a history of several recordings in its lifetime. Created by singer-songwriter John Denver in 1966, the song experienced a jump in popularity when it was recorded and released by the American folk group Peter, John, and Mary. The song was then tapped to be part of the soundtrack of the disaster film “Armageddon.” That 1998 version, performed by Chantal Kreviazuk, blew up as much as the film it was part of. The lyrics are melancholic, a tale of someone taking a journey away from a loved one. Quite a sentimental track for your travel playlist. This is one of my personal favorite songs about flying away.
4. Paris by The Chainsmokers
|Album||Memories…Do Not Open|
The track “Paris” is a single from the debut album of the American electronic dance music duo the Chainsmokers. The track utilizes common elements in the duo’s arsenal, including chill keyboard, sounds reminiscent of their massive hit single “Closer.” The final output is a more subdued sound, a level swaying rhythm with no sudden drops, with tinkling beats and light synths, featuring uncredited vocals by American singer Emily Warren. The song spins a tale of young lovers tumbling about in Paris, wild and free and hiding from their parents, with a promise of “if we go down, we go down together.” “Paris” was a massive hit and peaked at rank six on the Billboard Hot 100.
5. Adventure Of A Lifetime by Coldplay
|Genre||Pop rock, disco, funk|
|Album||A Head Full of Dreams|
“Adventure Of A Lifetime” brings a fresh, funky beat to the somber, soulful tunes that the British rock band Coldplay is quite known for. The lead single from the 2015 album “A Head Full of Dreams,” the song features chirpy synths mixed with percussions and female vocals before Chris Martin comes in to sing. Happy and upbeat, the lyrics repeat “like I’m alive again,” speaking of an adventure taken and shared with a loved one. Described by Martin as “a more colorful, more joyful sort of thing,” the album’s lead track was welcomed by critics as one of Coldplay’s best offers.
6. Road Trippin’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers
The name speaks for itself as a track for your travel playlist. “Road Trippin’” comes off of “Californication,” the widely successful seventh studio album from American rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers. The album marks the return of guitarist John Frusciante, and the lyrics of the song pick up an anecdote from this reunion. The words tell of a road trip taken by the band along the Pacific Coast Highway, wherein they enjoyed surfing at the Big Sur with their returning guitarist. The song is purely acoustic, played with no drums, featuring somber guitars and somber vocals, the sound and words contemplative of a trip to the coast with friends.
7. Sleep On The Floor by The Lumineers
Folk rock band, The Lumineers, features the song “Sleep On The Floor” in their second studio album, “Cleopatra.” The song is mellow and sounds gentle, the twanging guitars playing well with the cello, and the eventual entry of drums speeds things up. It is a call to leave everything behind before it is too late before one is burdened by expectations of family and faith. “Pack yourself a toothbrush, dear,” the lyrics sing. The song speaks about necessary travel, a life’s journey to independence, but maybe a less dire message is to just let things go and hit the road.
8. Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles
From his popular and critically acclaimed album “Fine Line,” the second single, “Watermelon Sugar,” is a sultry, stand-out track. The song opens to speedy acoustic guitar strums, soon meshing with electric guitars, drums, and horns and driven by a catchy melody. The song got its title from the book “In Watermelon Sugar” by Richard Brautigan. Styles has spoken of how the lyrics are about the heady rush of meeting with someone for the first time. These words, the song’s bright notes, and the music video featuring Styles at the beach together transform the song into an open invitation for a summer trip.
9. Kokomo by The Beach Boys
Popular beach song “Kokomo” was first released as a single in 1988 before making it into the original soundtrack of the romantic comedy-drama film “Cocktail.” Performed by American rock band the Beach Boys, the song became a number-one hit, charting on Billboard and becoming one of the band’s most popular tracks to date. The song features a chill percussion intro followed by the smooth, now-iconic croonings of Aruba, Jamaica, and more Caribbean islands. Although Kokomo is an imagined island utopia off the Florida Keys, the song’s vivid imagery of a seaside getaway makes the track a perfect travel companion.
10. Location Unknown by HONNE featuring BEKA
|Album||Love Me/Love Me Not|
English electronic music duo HONNE found continued success with the album “Love Me/Love Me Not,” from which comes the track “Location Unknown.” Featuring English artist and frequent collaborator BEKA, the Brooklyn session version of the song is calmer, softer, and more sentimental, devoid of HONNE’s signature synth-happy sound. The raw piano chords float with the seamless medley of BEKA’s soulful voice and Andy Clutterback’s honest vocals. The lyrics tell a tale of traveling too much, perhaps, being away from someone beloved for too long, and the heartfelt vow to return despite not knowing when the desired reunion would occur.
11. Take Me Back To London by Ed Sheeran featuring Stormzy
|Genre||Pop, hip hop|
|Album||No.6 Collaborations Project|
Some travels have gone on too long that one misses the comforts of home. This might look a bit different for a popular, successful artist such as English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who must have been enjoying touring the world, but it’s a relatable sentiment. “Take Me Back To London” is the eighth and final single from his “No.6 Collaborations Project” album. The track has Sheeran’s signature sound merged with spitting hip hop and rap care of rapper Stormzy. The two Brits swap words and rap about places they have been and things they have missed back home in London.
12. seoul by RM of BTS
|Genre||Hip hop, Kpop|
For his second mix-tape release, RM of renowned Kpop supergroup BTS teamed up with British duo HONNE for the track “seoul.” The album, titled and stylized as “mono.”, peels off layers in the Korean rapper’s musicality, revealing soulful sounds and lyrics. “Seoul” is no exception. The synth sounds at the intro are thumping yet gentle. James Hatcher of HONNE revealed this was his vocal, “loaded into a sampler and played on a keyboard.” RM’s lyrics opine about the city he calls home, utilizing the “soul” wordplay and delivering a thoughtful track. RM’s bittersweet feelings about his home city pose a unique invitation to see it for yourself.
13. Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver
|Album||Poems, Prayers & Promises|
“Take Me Home, Country Roads,” also known simply as “Country Roads,” is an ode to West Virginia from John Denver’s 1971 album “Poems, Prayers & Promises.” Co-written by Denver with fellow American singer-songwriters Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, “Country Roads” has been a success since its release and remains to be Denver’s most popular song to date. The song was inspired by a drive home wherein Nivert was behind the wheel while Danoff played his guitar. The drive got the songwriters thinking about growing up in West Virginia and going down the small country roads, sentiments reflected in the song’s lyrics, melded with the guitar’s country twang.
14. Pure Shores by All Saints
|Album||The Beach: Motion Picture Soundtrack|
Stylized as a dream pop song with its swaying synths and electronic production, “Pure Shores” is a critically and commercially successful track for the English-Canadian girl group All Saints. Created for the film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the song was composed based on a 40-second clip from the scene where DiCaprio and co-star Virginie Ledoyen were swimming underwater. The music video themes merge the song’s ambient beats with the movie’s adventure suspense premise, with All Saints shown walking at Wells-Next-The-Sea beach at Norfolk, singing a haunting call. It’s not your typical summer song, but a great track all the same.
15. Around The World by Daft Punk
|Genre||French house, disco|
“Around The World” is a stellar example of what electronic duo Daft Punk is best at, that is, a pumping beat, straightforward lyrics, and vibes. Perfect for dancing in the club as much as it works as a wake-up track on a long drive, the song is a house and disco classic. The lyrics only contain the three words “around the world,” said in repetition 144 times. The robotic vocals, bass, and synths mesh to create a song that sounds perfectly on loop, duly credited by critics as something genius. The song is heralded as one of Daft Punk’s greatest tracks.
16. Have Love, Will Travel by The Sonics
|Album||Here Are The Sonics|
As much as it is a popular slogan peppered all over wall decals and social media, “Have Love, Will Travel” is also a song that enjoyed several incarnations. Written and recorded in 1959 by American blues singer Richard Berry, the song has since been performed by a long list of artists such as punk vocalist Stiv Bators, rock band The Brando’s, and more recently, blues rockers The Black Keys in 2003. The song’s best-known recording, though, was by garage rock band The Sonics. The lyrics speak of going out on a journey and finding love, a universal message that easily transcends decades and genres.
17. The Passenger by Iggy Pop
|Genre||Garage rock, proto-punk|
|Album||Lust For Life|
“The Passenger” by the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop, is a garage rock and proto-punk staple. Written by Iggy and guitarist Ricky Gardiner, the song has several inspirations, from the Jim Morrison poem “The Lords” to rides taken by Iggy on the Berlin S-Bahn railway and touring with David Bowie. Iggy explains the experience as driving around in a car “ad infinitum,” a feeling encapsulated in the lyrics and the song’s laidback rhythm. The passenger gets into a car and rides, observing the views, what he sees, and how it makes him feel. The song is a mainstay in Iggy’s live performances and has been featured in movies, video games, and TV shows.
18. Roam by The B-52’s
The track “Roam” spelled success for American New Wave band The B-52’s, becoming their second and final US top 10 hit and earning the band a Grammy nomination. The song is the fourth single from “Cosmic Thing,” the same album carrying another hit, “The Love Shack.” The lyrics encourage a trip around the world to wherever the wind calls, crossing boundaries with love and a kiss in your pocket. The music video itself is a trip, filmed with vocalists Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson singing and dancing to the funky beat against the backdrop of colorful travel-inspired videos and animation.
19. Traveling by Utada Hikaru
Japanese-American singer Utada Hikaru made her breakthrough in the US market with her 2009 English album “This Is The One.” Also known as simply Utada, the artist’s Japanese discography spans wider and includes the boppy, dance-pop song “Traveling” from her acclaimed and best-selling album “Deep River.” The song takes notes from house music, a party tune enriched by the contrast of Utada’s full tone and soulful vocals. At first read, the lyrics are a call to travel, heading for anywhere far to shake the troubles away. Critics have pointed out underlying themes of dreams and nightmares, too, adding layers to the song’s meaning.
20. Beautiful Day by U2
|Album||All That You Can’t Leave Behind|
From the album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” by Irish rock legends U2 “Beautiful Day” Released in 2000. The song was a commercial success, achieving multi-platinum status, and has since joined the lineup of the band’s most prominent hits. The song takes the listener back to U2’s musical roots, harkening back to their earlier sounds. Lead singer Bono described the song as about finding joy despite losing everything. The lyrics describe “not moving anywhere” and being on the road with no destination, but then give the reminder that “it’s a beautiful day, don’t let it slip away.”
21. Sailing by Christopher Cross
Released as the second single of his eponymous album, “Sailing” was written and recorded by American artist Christopher Cross. A commercial hit at the time of release, the song was further popularized by NSYNC when the boy band included their harmonized take in their debut studio album. Cross spoke of writing the soft rock song inspired by an older childhood friend who would take him out sailing to escape the angst that comes with adolescence. The lyrics expand on this inspiration, singing about how sailing takes one away to peace and freedom from the trials and burdens of the day.
22. On Top Of The World by Imagine Dragons
Upbeat, happy track “On Top of The World” is the third single from the album “Night Visions.” Performed by American rock band Imagine Dragons, the song has pop rock, skippy beats featuring guitars and piano instrumentals, a change from more serious tracks on the album such as “Bleeding Out” and “Hear Me.” The song speaks of climbing mountains, crossing rivers, and paying one’s dues without cutting corners, a story of physical and emotional travels until one achieves dreams and hence reaches the top of the world. The rock band relates the message to their accomplishments and triumphs through the years.
23. Empire State Of Mind by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
|Album||The Blueprint 3|
“Empire State Of Mind” by American rapper Jay-Z features vocals of singer Alicia Keys. Considered one of the best songs of 2009, the song features a sample of “Love On A Two-Way Street” by R&B group The Moments and a piano loop that distinguishes the song. Keys’ distinct voice adds sultry layers to the hip-hop track. Written as a tribute to New York City, Jay-Z’s rap enumerates things to see and hopefully not see, the beautiful and the ugly, names of homegrown legends, and more from a varied list of what makes New York the city that it is, and what makes it well worth the visit.
24. Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz
Sometimes the itch to travel comes as more than an urge but as a necessity. “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz evokes this feeling, the yearning to take off and be free. “I want to get away, I wanna fly away,” croons the American rocker. The barreling guitar riffs and follow-through percussion demand attention, sweeping under to a clapping beat as Lenny sings the verse. Lenny was apparently playing around with a chord progression, amps on, and the session was recorded. Despite the album having already been completed, the new song was added to the tracklist. “Fly Away” has since been a hit and a travel jam.
25. Wanderlust by The Weeknd
“Wanderlust” is a song from “Kiss Land,” the debut album from Canadian singer-songwriter and record producer The Weeknd. It samples the track “Precious Little Diamond” by Dutch disco group Fox the Fox, the line repeated in the lyrics. An R&B track with disco stirrings, the atmospheric vibe and thumping beats evoke a strong desire to leave and travel. The Weeknd is known for dark lyricism and themes of escapism in his music, and “Wanderlust” fits the bill, likely connecting to the album’s exploration of the tour life as experienced by the artist. A Pharrell Williams remix of the song is featured on a later release.
26. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Sweet Home Alabama” is a country rock anthem by the American band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Although none of the songwriters were from Alabama, the song was conceptualized and written as an answer to Neil Young’s 1970s songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama.” Amid controversy stirred by the song, “Sweet Home Alabama” became one of the band’s major hits. Years after its release, band member Gary Rossington said that it was, at its essence, about the Alabama experiences that the band had seen on their tours. “Where the skies are blue,” the lyrics declare against the twanging riff that the song is known for.
27. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
|Genre||Rock, folk rock|
|Album||Sunshine on Leith|
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by Scottish duo The Proclaimers took its time to be a commercial success. Released in 1988, the song did not get wide acclaim until its inclusion in the 1993 romantic comedy film “Benny and Joon” starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson. The song has since graced popular media, such as American shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How I Met Your Mother,” and remains to be a staple in live performances by the Proclaimers. A solid marriage of pop and folk rock, the song builds on a low, snappy beat, with the acoustic duo backed by drums. Written by Craig Reid while waiting to travel to a football match, the lyrics make a vow of rolling and walking 500 miles just to be with someone.
28. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place by The Animals
“We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” is ranked as one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Best Rock Songs. Written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and performed by the English rock band the Animals, the song is considered iconic. The kind of song that fostered self-reflection, its lyrics meant different ways to different people, grounded on the relatable urge to get out of one’s current situation. Travel to leave, not to necessarily go somewhere, was likely the sentiment that resonated. The song was a popular request in high school dances, graduation parties, and even among the United States Armed Forces stationed in Vietnam during those times of conflict.
29. Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
|Album||Fever to Tell|
“Maps” is a punk rock track by American band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, from their 2003 debut album “Fever to Tell.” The song received wide critical acclaim and has been covered by multiple artists, as well as sampled by Beyonce in her song “Hold Up.” Distinguished by its electric intro, the song centers on repetition in the guitar riff and the lyrics, with lead singer Karen O wailing, “wait, they don’t love you like I love you,” amidst calls to pack up, go, and don’t stray. The song is inspired by Karen’s relationship with Angus Andrew, frontman of the rock band Liars, with the music video showing Karen’s real tears at the thought of missing him.
30. Maps by Maroon 5
“Maps” by Maroon 5 comes from the American band’s widely successful 2014 album “V.” An upbeat pop rock track swayed by guitar licks and subtle drums, the song’s dancey beats wrap around the angstier lyrics and is a definitive departure from the band’s earlier funky, alternative sounds. Adam Levine sings of a journey to search for love that has been lost but must be found. “I wonder, where were you? When all the roads you took came back to me.” Levine’s distinct vocals deliver a promise to follow “the map that leads to you.” The song quickly claimed the number-one spot during its release.
31. Runaway by The Corrs
|Album||Forgiven, Not Forgotten|
The Irish sibling quartet, The Corrs, delivered a distinct musicality in their songs. “Runaway,” the band’s debut single from their 1995 album “Forgiven, Not Forgotten,” is no exception. The siblings mix rock with classic tunings and hints of traditional Celtic music via electric guitars and drums, marrying with the violin and lead singer Andrea Corr’s strong, melodious vocals. Written by the sisters Andrea, Caroline, and Sharon, “Runaway” speaks of a hopeless, consuming kind of love that demands running away together. Andrea has shared this was the first song she performed in front of her parents and that she was a bit embarrassed by the sensual lyrics. If you like this song, you’ll most likely love our article on songs about running away.
32. Goodnight, Travel Well by The Killers
Some travels have to be taken in isolation with no ticket to return. This is explored by the song “Goodnight, Travel Well” by the American rock band the Killers. The haunting track is dedicated to member Dave Keuning’s mother, who had passed away at the time. The song’s meaning absorbed an additional layer from the succeeding health diagnosis of frontman Brandon Flowers’ mother. In an interview, Flowers remarked that the song travels from being the darkest thing the band has done “before shooting up to the clouds at the end.” It is a perfect description of the emotional journey one takes with the song.
33. Why Georgia by John Mayer
|Album||Room For Squares|
“Why Georgia” is the third single from the American songwriter’s debut album “Room For Squares.” Much like the alternative, poppy tracks in the no-skip album, “Why Georgia” is easy on the ears and tugs on the heart, driven by Mayer’s raspy voice and the acoustic guitar stirrings he was known for at the start. The lyrics describe driving up the 85 and the thoughts that can visit one during an idle, coasting ride. The song swells to its chorus, asking again and again, “am I living it right? Why? Tell me why?” A song made for musings and your identity crisis playlist.
34. Ready To Run by One Direction
|Genre||Pop, pop rock|
“Ready To Run” is the first promotional single from the popular English boy group’s 2014 studio album “FOUR.” The boy band performed the track in their “On The Road Again” tour. “FOUR” received positive reviews, with praise for the maturity of the boys’ songwriting and lyrics, merging with the comfortable sounds of their musical style. The song has been interpreted as being in a place where one does not belong and being ready to run to get away. “Escape from the city and follow the sun / ‘Cause I wanna be yours / Don’t you wanna be mine?” the boys croon in harmony.
35. One For The Road by Arctic Monkeys
“One For The Road” is a song from the 2013 studio album “AM” by the English rock band Arctic Monkeys. All tracks in the album were written by frontman Alex Turner, who has been lauded for being a sort of genius in finding rhyme in unexpected places between words. “One For The Road” is a rock track with bluesy layers featuring backing vocals from producer Josh Homme. It starts with high-pitched woo-woo’s from the band drummer Matt Helders, joined by the intro guitar riff and hard drum beats. “Will you pour me one for the road?” asks the song, a prelude to something or a final drink before a trip.
36. Run Away With Me by Carly Rae Jepsen
Canadian artist Carly Rae Jepsen released “Run Away With Me” in 2015, the second single off her album “Emotion.” Bursting with synth, this dance-pop track is a departure from Jepsen’s earlier bubblegum pop leanings, such as in the song “I Really Like You.” Jepsen’s sultry vocals match well with the song’s synth and saxophone layers, crooning about running away with someone “when the lights go out.” The song was a runaway hit (pun intended) with music critics, with Jepsen being lauded for her marked improvement as an artist, likewise for her ability to evoke feelings from words in a song.
37. Shut Up And Drive by Rihanna
|Genre||New wave, dance-pop|
|Album||Good Girl Gone Bad|
Rihanna released “Shut Up And Drive” in 2007 from her third studio album “Shut Up And Drive.” The song is upbeat and New Wave, with the 1970s and 1980s musical influences including a sample of New Order’s 1983 single “Blue Monday.” True to the song’s title, it incorporates layered guitars made to sound like zooming cars. Critics have called the lyrics fluffy and goofy. With a descriptive story, the song likens the search for a lover to find a driver who could step up, though a simpler read would be about zipping down the road like it’s a racetrack, taking a ride in a fast car.
38. California Gurls by Katy Perry
Recorded by American singer Katy Perry and featuring rapper Snoop Dogg, “California Gurls” is an ode to California, where both artists were born and raised. Perry has mentioned that this is their answer to “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, which in turn is an ode to New York. Bubblegum, disco pop with electropop and new wave influences, the song was named the summer anthem upon its release in 2010. “You could travel the world, but nothing comes close to the golden coast,” the song boasts, promising heavenly views, fun parties, and unforgettable people in Perry’s beloved California.
39. Come Away With Me by Norah Jones
|Album||Come Away With Me|
American singer and pianist Norah Jones burst into the scene with the slow, piano-led tune “Come Away With Me.” Hailing from her Grammy Award-winning debut album of the same name, the song was featured in the soundtrack of the film “Maid In Manhattan,” a romantic comedy led by Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes. The lyrics invite someone to “come away in the night,” may it be via bus, or a walk, on a cloudy day, or up the mountaintop. The song and the rest of the album deliver acoustic pop, with jazz, blues, soul, and funk influences, dominated by Jones’ alluring voice.
40. Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
|Album||Full Moon River|
American rockstar Tom Petty’s solo debut album featured the lead track “Free Fallin’,” released in 1989. The song was created by Petty and English singer Jeff Lynne, who also does backing vocals for the track. Famously covered by John Mayer in his album “Where The Light Is,” it is one of Petty’s most recognized tracks and is also considered his best. The lyrics make references to the San Fernando Valley and were reportedly written not about a particular person but rather about the view he enjoyed in his frequent drives in the area. The echoes of “now I’m free, free falling” with the folksy guitar paint a vivid picture of such a drive.
41. I Left My Heart in San Francisco by Tony Bennett
|Album||I Left My Heart In San Francisco|
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” is considered the signature song of traditional American pop and big band legend Tony Bennett. Released in 1962, the song is considered a cultural heritage and is one of the official songs of the city. Songwriter Douglass Cross imagined two lonely writers in Manhattan missing San Francisco, and thus the lyrics speak of wandering in Paris, Rome, and Manhattan, and despite recognizing the beauty of these places, the heart still misses the cable cars, the golden sun, and the blue, windy sea. It is a song about traveling home, probably the sweetest journey there is.
42. Cups by Anna Kendrick
|Album||More From Pitch Perfect|
The musical comedy film “Pitch Perfect” was a cult hit when it was released in 2012, highlighting Anna Kendrick’s prowess as a lead actress and a musical performer. Kendrick performed the song “Cups” in the movie while playing a cup game that served as the song’s grounding percussion. A folk-pop song, “Cups,” incorporates lyrics from the 1931 song “When I’m Gone” by the folk group the Carter family. Kendrick’s version blends folk guitar stirrings with xylophones, handclaps, and the beat of the cup against a surface. The lyrics speak about leaving for a trip to the mountains, to rivers, to see the views, and how the singer will be missed while she is away.
43. Fearless by Taylor Swift
|Genre||Country pop, pop rock|
From the 2010 album of the same name, “Fearless” was written by pop superstar Taylor Swift while on tour. In this country pop and pop rock track, Swift explores the feeling of diving headfirst and taking the courage to fall in love, set against the backdrop of a perfect first date, going on a drive with someone special. Swift released what she calls “Taylor’s version” of the song and the album in her efforts to re-record her music following a dispute with her previous record label. The song has been praised for its musicality and production, joining the ranks of hits in Taylor’s acclaimed discography.
44. Africa by Toto
The song “Africa” hails from the album “Toto IV” by the American rock band Toto. Released in 1982 to praise and acclaim, the song experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, spurred in part by a cover done by American rock band Weezer. The song was created by David Paich, Toto’s principal song maker, who had shared that the initial idea was about a person’s love for Africa. While Paich himself had not been to Africa at the time, the song was based on documentaries he’d seen of the place and was also inspired by how his teachers had done missionary work in Africa.
45. Malibu by Miley Cyrus
The track “Malibu” is the lead single from the album “Younger Now,” the sixth from Miley Cyrus. The country-pop star was previously known for upbeat tracks. “Malibu” shows a departure from this, with the mellow track led by guitars and Cyrus’s solemn voice. Written by Cyrus, the track is about her then-fiance, Liam Hemsworth, which she describes as the freedom in “finding a new love in an old love”, told through lyrics that describe the beauty of the waters and sunset of Malibu. The song has been described as SoCal soft rock, a calm, subdued track that sounds stripped back and pure.
46. Passenger Seat by Stephen Speaks
|Genre||Pop rock, acoustic rock|
|Album||No More Doubt|
American acoustic pop-rock band Stephen Speaks is best known for singles such as “Out of My League” and “Passenger Seat.” From the band’s debut studio album “No More Doubt,” “Passenger Seat” is an ear-friendly acoustic number, mellow and sweet from its guitar riffs to the soft, breezy melody. The song speaks of the consuming feeling of being in love and describes it as going on a drive with one’s beloved and knowing that in their company, everything in life is complete and alright. A romance tale at its core, the band shares that the song was also inspired by Song of Songs from the Bible.
47. On The Road Again by Willie Nelson
“On The Road Again” is one of the most popular songs by country rock singer Willie Nelson. Nelson was starring in the romantic drama film “Honeysuckle Rose,” about an aging musician who had failed to achieve fame, and was asked to write a song to go with the film. The output is “On The Road Again,” a charming country rock ditty describing the joys and thrills of an artist hitting the road to perform and meet friends. The song had a recent refresh when Nelson recorded it as a duet with Canadian rock artist Alanis Morissette, released together with the announcement of Morissette’s 2022 tour.
Related Article: Songs About Starting Over
48. Big Sur by Alanis Morissette
|Album||Havoc and Bright Lights|
Alanis Morrisette has been well known as the pop-grunge queen of the era thanks to her genre-defining 1995 album, “Jagged Little Pill.” The Canadian-American artist’s musicality has evolved since then, evident in her eighth studio effort, “Havoc and Bright Lights,” and its bonus song, “Big Sur.” Softer, mellower, and less angry confessional, “Big Sur” takes the listener down Highway One, down roads leading to the surf and sea of Big Sur, “enthralled by the redwoods.” The beat is gentle, matched by Alanis’ vocals. Co-written by Alanis with Guy Sigsworth, she notes the song as her “ode to Big Sur with all its majesty.”
49. Malibu Nights by LANY
Music and travel provide comfort in the darkest days. Such was exhibited in the album “Malibu Night” from pop rock indie darlings LANY. Band member Paul Jason Klein shared having his “heart completely shattered” following his breakup with fellow artist Dua Lipa, and thus he turned to music. Like the rest of the songs in the album, the same-named track “Malibu Nights” was first written on the piano, and it retains soft melodies with Klein’s raw vocals. The song speaks of the depth of loneliness of losing someone and resolves to chase it away on a drive, “chasing Malibu nights.”
50. Home by Phillip Phillips
|Album||The World From The Side Of The Moon|
American Idol winner Phillip Phillips hit the road and the charts with his debut and coronation single “Home.” Released in 2012, the folk-rock track was made fit for the artist and his signature raspy voice and impressive skill with the guitar. The song features a bright tempo and an upbeat message. Co-writer Greg Holden shared how it is about reaching out to a friend who is going through a difficult time, described by going down an unfamiliar road together, with the promise that one is not alone. A commercial success, “Home” broke records and became the best-selling Idol coronation song.
51. (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 by Nat King Cole
A jazz classic, “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” by Nat King Cole, has withstood the test of time as a road trip song. Initially released as a single in 1946, wherein it climbed the charts, the track was since included in Cole’s albums “After Midnight” and “The Nat King Cole Story.” Considered a timeless masterpiece and jazz standard, the song was spurred by a cross-country drive from Pennsylvania to California. The 10-day journey inspired songwriter Bobby Troup; hence the lyrics mention places on the way from Missouri, Amarillo, New Mexico, to San Bernandino, as the tale of the drive heads to California.
52. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
Singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman released the song “Fast Car” as the lead single of her self-titled debut album. Her performance in Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday tribute concert brought notice to the song, boosting its popularity. With powerful words set against folk rock strummings, Chapman sings of a gritty yet hopeful narrative of lifting oneself out of current circumstances, set against a journey into the city. “You’ve got a fast car,” the song begins. “Any place is better / Starting from zero got nothing to lose / Maybe we’ll make something.” “Fast Car” received four Grammy nominations, winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Chapman.
53. I’ve Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash
The song has literally been everywhere with its versions and recordings through the years. Written by Australian country singer Geoff Mack in 1959, the original lyrics to “I’ve Been Everywhere” spoke of one’s journey that went through Australian towns. Since then, the song versions have highlighted places in Western Australia, North America, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, and even Texas. A popular recording is one by country rocker Johnny Cash, who released the song as part of his 1996 album “Unchained.” No matter which version you choose for your travel playlist, the fun, springy track of a winding adventure is surely good company.
54. Road To Nowhere by Talking Heads
|Genre||Pop rock, new wave|
“Road To Nowhere” by Talking Heads was written by band member and principal songwriter David Byrne. Included in the rock band’s 1985 album “Little Creatures,” the song starts with the intro by a gospel choir, and then the synths and guitars come in, setting up a joyful tune. Introspective and hopeful, the lyrics explore the feeling of both knowing and not knowing. It can be seen as something that applies to both travel and life when you think you might know where the road leads and what came before it, but not much is certain. Byrne has described the song as a “resigned, even joyful look at doom.”
55. Midnight Train To Georgia by Gladys Knight & The Pips
“Midnight Train to Georgia” is a Grammy-winning song by Gladys Knight & the Pips, known as Knight’s signature song. Before Georgia, it was a “Midnight Train to Houston,” based on a conversation that songwriter Jim Weatherly had with actress Farrah Fawcett. The Georgia version was eventually recorded by Knight, a soulful R&B track with lyrics about leaving, getting up, and taking the trip back to a simpler time and place. Versus the travel songs that inspire the listener to venture into the great unknown, this song speaks of taking stock of dreams chased and deciding to head back and recuperate.
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56. Wherever You Will Go by The Calling
Post-grunge band The Calling burst into the scene with the song “Wherever You Will Go.” Off their 2001 debut album “Camino Palmero,” the track proved to be a success, hitting to top of the charts in several countries and making it the band’s most famous track. Brought to life by the bold, strong voice of lead vocalist Alex Band and driven by electric guitars, the song is both a promise and a request to be with someone, wherever that may be. Traveling alone can be wonderful as much as it can be lonely, and this song can be a fortifying soundtrack to such a journey.
57. Somewhere Only We Know by Keane
|Album||Hopes and Fears|
Conceptualized as the kind of song one will enjoy on a drive, “Somewhere Only We Know” is a hit song by the English alternative rock band Keane. A piano rock song, lead singer Tom Chaplin’s vocals soar over the hammering of piano keys. The lyrics inspire a circling back moment, evoking the feeling of having traveled for so long and the weight of such a journey, and then leading to questioning the things that are there. The band members share that although they created the song after returning to the small town of Battle from London, the message can be interpreted as referring to any place or emotion.
And as always, let us know if there are any songs we should add to this list in the comments section below.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Butler, Pennsylvania. I’ve been obsessed with music and audio gear for as long as I can remember. I started this website to help people find professional advice related to a wide range of audio topics. We have a number of Audio Engineers on our team who have been designing and fixing audio gear for decades.