Whether you’re hitting the open road or leaving on a jet plane, you need a playlist to compliment your journey. From John Denver’s timeless ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ to Frank Sinatra’s romantic ‘Come Fly With Me,’ enhance your journey with these songs about traveling on this ultimate travel playlist.
- Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf
- On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
- Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
- Good Life – OneRepublic
- I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
- Around the World – Daft Punk
- Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
- Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Kokomo – The Beach Boys
- Roam – The B-52’s
- Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & the Pips
- Truckin’ – Grateful Dead
- A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton
- Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
- On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons
- Travelin’ Man – Ricky Nelson
- Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
- Havana – Camila Cabello
- Have Love Will Travel – The Sonics
- Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts
- Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
- The Passenger – Iggy Pop
- King of the Road – Roger Miller
- Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
- Take It Easy – Eagles
- Going Up the Country – Canned Heat
- Hopeless Wanderer – Mumford & Sons
- Come Fly with Me – Frank Sinatra
- End of the Line – Traveling Wilburys
- California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & the Papas
- New York State of Mind – Billy Joel
- Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf
‘Born to Be Wild’ is a road trip requirement since it’s an ode to both car culture and motorcycle culture and the freedom that comes along with the traveling lifestyle these enthusiasts lead. This hit coined the phrase ‘heavy metal’ when it featured the phrase “heavy metal thunder” in its lyrics. The song became a counter-culture staple when it was featured in the popular 60s biker movie Easy Rider.
Related: Enjoy the drive with these good road trip songs.
On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
Country singer-songwriter Willie Nelson wrote this song while on a flight with the director of an upcoming movie he was set to star in, Honeysuckle Rose. While they chatted about the song they needed for the film, Nelson scribbled what came to him on an airsickness bag. Nelson’s ‘On The Road Again’ was a huge crossover hit though the movie didn’t do well, and is practically a requirement for every travel songs playlist today.
Related: Say hello to the best goodbye songs.
Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
Guitarist Dickey Betts sang lead on this autobiographical track, which also paid tribute to country music legend Hank Williams’ tune ‘Ramblin’ Man.’ Not only did Betts move around a lot as a child due to his father’s work, but he also drew inspiration for the song from his adulthood as a traveling musician.
Good Life – OneRepublic
Originally written about his trip to London, OneRepublic writer Ryan Tedder revised the lyrics with a universal approach before releasing it. With a catchy whistle melody and relatable lyrics, ‘Good Life’ had significant staying power. Due to its wide use in several movies, popular TV shows, and advertisements for theme park giants like Walt Disney, it was still charting in the top 10 even two years after its initial release.
Related: This song is featured on our playlist of happy songs.
I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
This autobiographical hit is one of Johnny Cash’s most licensed songs. His version was used in Comfort Inn commercials, and later on, cover versions of the song were used in Choice Hotel commercials and USPS ads. Nordictrack used ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’ in one of their ad campaigns. Cash proves he really has been everywhere as he uses the verses to list all the cities he’s visited.
Related: Find this song on our playlist of location songs.
Around the World – Daft Punk
Their 1997 debut album, Homework, featured ‘Around the World,’ which is easily one of a Daft Punk fan’s favorite songs. French electronic duo Daft Punk got their name after reading a negative review of one of their first singles released under a different name. The reviewer called their music “daft punk.” The duo loved the idea so much that they rebranded their music and recorded their first official album, Homework, in their home studio.
Related: Vibe with this playlist of songs with cool bass lines.
Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ is a relatable song for anyone taking a cross-country road trip or missing home and longing to get back to their roots and a simpler time. Singer-songwriter John Denver is often inspired by nature, and themes of natural elements can be found throughout his original work. Though the song specifically mentions West Virginia, Denver had no connection to the state when writing the tune.
Related: Sing along with more good country karaoke songs.
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Who would have thought one of Alabama’s most-coveted theme songs was written by a band from Florida. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ode to the southern state is one of their biggest hits and is so much fun to sing on a road trip! Though they were from Jacksonville, FL, they released ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ as a tribute to Muscle Shoals, the studio they recorded at during the 70s.
Related: See more of the best male karaoke songs.
Kokomo – The Beach Boys
Best known for their pristine harmonies and squeaky clean sound, The Beach Boys’ ‘Kokomo’ is the ultimate vacation song. Featured in the movie Cocktail, this was a comeback song for the group giving them their first #1 hit since their earlier single ‘Good Vibrations.’ Referencing popular travel destinations like the Bahamas and Key Largo, the feel-good song is great to add to your vacation playlist.
Roam – The B-52’s
Featured at the beginning of HBO Max’s movie, ‘The Little Things,’ this 80s pop hit stresses the importance of traveling to break down cultural barriers. Upon its release, the younger demographic latched onto it for its anthemic call to break free, spread your wings, and find your own way in the world.
Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & the Pips
A classic about heartbreak, this Motown hit features a woman singing about her man giving up on his dreams and heading back to his home state. ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ is a grammy-awarding winning hit that many different artists have covered, including Aretha Franklin, The Indigo Girls, and Neil Diamond.
Truckin’ – Grateful Dead
This Grateful Dead tune has a double meaning. When it was released in the early 70s, the heyday of the counter-culture lifestyle was taking place. Hippies, drifters, and vagabonds (which often included musicians) heavily relied on mysticism for artistic inspiration. Sometimes, waiting on something you have no control over could be quite depressing. The band was also busy fortifying their legacy as a tireless touring act. All of these circumstances went into the writing of ‘Truckin.’
A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton
Though Vanessa Carlton originally started out as a trained dancer, her piano skills and sugary-pop sound gained her stardom with her first hit, ‘A Thousand Miles.’ This classic song is about doing whatever it takes to spend time with your special someone. It spent many weeks in the top spot on MTV’s popular music countdown show, Total Request Live.
Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
After a rural California road trip with his fellow bandmates, Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis wrote this song. A track on their Californication album, this tune helped solidify a more mature, grown-up songwriting style for Kiedis. It’s a rare Chili Peppers track that doesn’t feature any percussion. They were initially going to have Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones play organ on the recording, but Jones’ price tag was too high.
On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons
Though it reached significant international success, ‘On Top of the World’ didn’t chart high in the US. The song captures the joy you feel when you’re finally able to celebrate success after years of hard work and overcoming obstacles. It was licensed for use in a couple of different soccer video games, including FIFA’s release. Artists have also covered the song at presidential inaugurations.
Travelin’ Man – Ricky Nelson
This #1 hit in the US featured a star-studded recording cast, including Elvis Presley’s backup singers and Glen Campbell on guitar. Written by singer Jerry Fuller, he hoped Sam Cooke would want to cut it. But when he brought it to Cooke’s manager, it was a no-go. Ricky Nelson’s bass player heard the tune being played through the studio wall and asked Fuller if Nelson could record it. Fuller pulled the demo tape out of the studio trash and happily obliged.
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Though Tracy Chapman reached mainstream success in the 90s, she wasn’t just another pop artist that was a musical product of the decade’s particular taste. She fused several genres with her songwriting style, including blues, pop, and R&B. She wasn’t afraid of tackling tricky subject matter either. ‘Fast Car’ offers an emotional, dynamic look into tough choices marginalized groups are faced with. She performed with greats like Eric Clapton and B.B. King during her reign.
Havana – Camila Cabello
Pop singer Camila Cabello declares her love for Havana, Cuba, in this mainstream hit loved by former US President Barack Obama (he mentioned the song in an interview when asked what he was currently listening to). The song tells the story of a woman who’s fallen in love with a well-to-do man who has whisked her away from her beloved Havana to their new home in “East Atlanta.”
Related: Go to our playlist of more songs with a place in the title.
Have Love Will Travel – The Sonics
A punk-rock anthem with big, distorted production, The Sonics’ ‘Have Love Will Travel’ has become a garage-rock classic spanning decades. Since its initial release in the 60s, many artists have covered the song, including Bruce Springsteen. The Sonics’ version has been featured in many movies, including Ford v. Ferrari and John Wick. The song was named after the popular western show Have Gun, Will Travel.
Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts
Originally written by Canadian artist Tom Cochrane after an inspirational trip to West Africa in partnership with World Vision, a famine relief organization, it’s an uplifting anthem that will help you tackle your day. Rascal Flatts renewed love for the catchy song when they recorded a popular version of it for the animated movie, Cars.
Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
Talking Heads’ ‘Road to Nowhere’ offers a peppy outlook on an otherwise doom-filled future featuring only two guitar chords throughout the entire song. Drawing on world events at the time and society’s nihilistic tendencies, the band stayed optimistic with the production’s upbeat feel and lyrics while referencing an otherwise grim future.
The Passenger – Iggy Pop
While Iggy Pop was staying in Berlin, Germany, with David Bowie, he wrote’ The Passenger,’ while they tried to kick their drug habits. Unfortunately, their detox trip wasn’t successful due to Berlin’s very active nightlife scene. It’s a song written for society’s lonely outcasts, and Pop felt particularly lonely when he wrote this tune. When Pop began recording the album Lust for Life which the song would appear, Bowie sang backup vocals.
Related: Drive over to our playlist of car songs.
King of the Road – Roger Miller
Roger Miller’s hit song ‘King of the Road’ scored him five Grammys in 1965. Written over two months while on tour, this single embodies the happy-go-lucky vagabond lifestyle that was en vogue at the time. The paper he wrote the lyrics on for the song is currently hanging at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
Related: If you like this song, you’ll love our classic country playlist.
Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival
CCR frontman John Fogerty wrote this track about their hectic tour life in the 60s. They made their money on the road, playing countless festivals and shows across America. With an early classic rock feel, Fogerty laid down the basic elements of the song in the studio and later revisited it. The recording features him playing many of the instruments you hear, including piano and horns.
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
This cheery single about seeing the one you love no matter the distance you have to travel was a popular late 80s UK hit. It became a hit in the US after being featured in one of Johnny Depp’s early films, Benny and Joon. The Proclaimers’ Scottish accents present throughout the tune make it an easy-to-remember karaoke favorite.
Take It Easy – Eagles
Eagles band member Glenn Frey needed new songs for their upcoming album. One day, he heard his neighbor, Jackson Browne, working on a new tune. Browne told Frey he was having trouble finishing it, and Frey joined him to try and help. That songwriting session produced fan-favorite, ‘Take It Easy.’ With an early country-rock feel, the song’s setting is in Winslow, Arizona, making the small town a popular tourist stop along Route 40 in the southwest.
Related: Relax with the best retirement songs.
Going Up the Country – Canned Heat
Beloved by the hippie movement and played live at the infamous Woodstock festival, Canned Heat’s ‘Going Up the Country’ features a story about a long journey to an important, spiritual place. Though it was a big hit at Woodstock, their set was cut from the movie featuring footage of the festival due to the band’s uneven, quickly thrown-together performance. Band member Alan Wilson who sang vocals on this track took his life when he was only 27.
Hopeless Wanderer – Mumford & Sons
After having only two months off over five years touring non-stop as a band, Mumford & Sons came together in Nashville at a rural farmhouse for several days of songwriting sessions. Ultimately, ‘ Hopeless Wanderer’ was written between a bit of partying and rest. It is a song about all of the people you leave behind while out on the road.
Come Fly with Me – Frank Sinatra
One of Frank Sinatra’s most popular hits, ‘Come Fly with Me,’ was the perfect compliment to his classy, sophisticated brand. As Sinatra croons, he invites the listener to come with him to travel the world. This romantic tune was released in the late 50s during the height of the Baby Boom in America. Its positive outlook on life coincided with America’s cultural spirit at the time. People were excited about the future and how one could affordably travel to see the world.
Related: Soar above the rest with these flying songs.
End of the Line – Traveling Wilburys
The Traveling Wilburys were a popular supergroup in the late 80s and early 90s comprised of songwriters Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. From their Volume One album, ‘End of The Line’ has a train theme throughout the lyrics and within the hook referencing the last stop while traveling. For Roy Orbison, this track was released posthumously.
California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & the Papas
‘California Dreamin’ is a tune about homesickness co-written by Mamas and Papas bandmates and husband-and-wife duo Michelle and John Phillips. She moved to New York with John after they got married, and she was missing the warm, sunny climate of her home state of California when she began working on this tune during a particularly cold New York winter. It is a rare pop song that features a flute solo where a guitar solo would generally be.
New York State of Mind – Billy Joel
Billy Joel wrote ‘New York State of Mind’ in about an hour. After moving back to New York after spending several years in California, he penned this tune about his love for the empire state. Using Ray Charles to influence the song, Joel sat down at his piano to flesh out the melody. Though it was never officially released as a single, ‘New York State of Mind’ is one of Joel’s most popular songs.
Related: Wishing you could head to the Big Apple? Listen to these songs about new york.
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Stevie Nicks lends her powerful vocals to this popular Fleetwood Mac single released on their Rumours album. Bandmate and on-again-off-again boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham wrote the song to Nicks about their breakup. She wasn’t too thrilled about singing it due to the cold nature of the lyrics. She attempted to amend some of the lyrics for fairness, but Buckingham refused.
Related: This song is also on our playlist of ex-boyfriend songs.