18 must-have songs for your road trip playlist this summer

jacoblund/Getty ImagesRoad tripping.
  • Due to the coronavirus pandemic, summer travel will look different this year, as more people will forego planes and trains for road trips.
  • As any experienced road-tripper will tell you, picking the music is one of the most important parts.
  • Insider picked 18 songs that are perfect for any adventure, from “Drive My Car” by The Beatles to “Ride Wit Me” by Nelly.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As summer approaches, it normally would mean that summer vacations are also on the horizon. This year, however, due to COVID-19, social distancing, and self-isolating, it seems like road-tripping will be the way to go for many people.

Crafting a road trip playlist is something of an art form, and can really make or break the hours (or days) spent inside your car. We’ve created a playlist of 16 songs that are all about driving, travelling, the open road, and adventure – and two that are just mandatory road trip songs.

Keep scrolling to see the 18 best songs for your next road trip.

Some songs demand to be blasted right at the beginning of a road trip — AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” is one of them.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesAC/DC.

Listen to the song here.

On the other hand, some songs need to be listened to while staring out of a rainy car window, like “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for dcpKelly Clarkson.

Listen to the song here.

No song is more enthusiastic about a long drive than Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.”

Shelly Katz/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesWillie Nelson.

Listen to the song here.

No road trip playlist is complete without the Nat King Cole Trio’s ode to the most famous highway in the US: “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.”

Metronome/Getty ImagesThe Nat King Cole Trio.

Listen to the song here.

Either Tom Cochrane’s original version, or the cover by Rascal Flatts, of “Life Is a Highway” is a must-have —maybe both!

Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty ImagesTom Cochrane.

Listen to the original version here and listen to the Rascal Flatts version here.

“Little Red Corvette” by Prince will make you feel cool, no matter what car you’re driving.

Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty ImagesPrince.

Listen to the song here.

The Beatles had no shortage of songs about travelling, driving, and cars. “Day Tripper” is one of the two best ones.

John Pratt/Keystone/Getty ImagesThe Beatles.

Listen to the song here.

“Drive My Car” is the other.

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty ImagesThe Beatles.

Listen to the song here.

From one British boy band to another … “Ready to Run” by One Direction also deserves a spot for all the millennials and Gen-Z kids getting dragged along on the trip.

Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic/Getty ImagesOne Direction.

Listen to the song here.

“Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant will make you feel like you’re flying down the highway.

Hayley Madden/Redferns/Getty ImagesEddy Grant.

Listen to the song here.

So will Matthew Wilder’s ’80s bop, “Break My Stride.”

Walt Disney Television/Getty ImagesMatthew Wilder.

Listen to the song here.

One of the most famous odes to getting the heck out of Dodge is Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”

Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty ImagesBruce Springsteen.

Listen to the song here.

The opening saxophone riff to “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen will have you already planning your next road trip, just to listen to this song with the windows down again.

Michael Tullberg/Getty ImagesCarly Rae Jepsen.

Listen to the song here.

Nelly’s iconic hit “Ride Wit Me” was made for cruising.

Johnny Louis/FilmMagic/Getty ImagesNelly.

Listen to the song here.

Even if you’re in a minivan, “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf will make you feel like you’re riding down the highway on a motorcycle, like in “Easy Rider.”

Gems/Redferns/Getty ImagesSteppenwolf.

Listen to the song here.

Rihanna telling you to “Shut Up and Drive” will motivate you to power through those last 50 miles like no other song.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for CBS Radio IncRihanna.

Listen to the song here.

While Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” isn’t technically about driving, a road trip, or travelling, no road trip playlist is complete without it. It demands to be listened to on the highway at full volume.

Rich Fury/Getty ImagesKaty Perry.

Listen to the song here.

The same goes for The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” It’s appropriate in all situations, including a road trip.

Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for Governors BallThe Killers.

Listen to the song here.

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