Ultimate songs to travel by
Music has the ability to transport and transform us no matter who or where we are. Traveling is closely tied to music in the manner that it can help us break down language and cultural barriers, and adds meaning, context and value to moments that may last a lifetime. Because every adventure deserves a great soundtrack, we gathered 10 of the best travel songs to add to your travel playlist. These songs speak of everything from dream destinations and finding yourself on the way, to appreciating the moment and simply being free wherever you are.
- On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
Tireless road dog Willie Nelson penned this 1980 country hit during a flight. As the ultimate “get-the-hell-out-of-town” anthem, this song speaks of embracing an escape from the stress of work, family, bills, city life and just be free. With lyrics like “On the road again, Goin’ places that I’ve never been, Seein’ things that I may never see again, And I can’t wait to get on the road again” – you really can’t go wrong with this song.
- California Dreamin’ – The Mamas And The Papas
Live your flower power fantasy with this all-time classic hit and let the ocean air drift through your hair. First released in 1965, this song is #89 in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time – and we don’t have to ask why. The lyrics express a longing for the warmth of California during a cold winter, and became a mark for the arrival of the budding counterculture era. Beachfront drives work best for this song, but regardless of where you are, it’s a soothing accompaniment that transports you to the edges of sunnier worldly destinations.
- Take It Easy – The Eagles
A quick but mellow tribute to the amorousness of traveling, where a world of troubles dissipates. The song’s refusal of worry replaced by casual adventure is perfect for relieving tension on your travels. With the line, “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,” many music lovers have made this Southwest town a popular stop on their road trips. Winslow location on Route 40 in northern Arizona makes it a fabulous place to stop while traveling between California and New Mexico. As the lyrics say: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”
- Guaranteed – Eddie Vedder
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder wrote Guaranteed for the film Into the Wild, which you should definitely watch if you haven’t. Based on the story of American nomad Christopher McCandless, both the movie and the soundtrack are beautifully designed to speak about breaking free, ‘getting back to the basics’, living a simple yet enriching life and being careless to the bone – wherever you are.
- Big Sur – Jack Johnson
This travel playlist wouldn’t be complete without Jack Johnson. One of his favorite places for family camping trips, Big Sur is about “driving away from all these things we can’t avoid,” Johnson says. “Taking off with your best friends to a place where you can get into those endless conversations that only ever stop because you have to go to sleep.” Big Sur emanates tropical, surfy vibes that go down well upon any trip.
- Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Undoubtedly a classic and favorite road trip song filled with nostalgia, which fits perfectly into a travel playlist. Tracy Chapman’s beautiful hit from her eponymic debut album, provides escapism on blissful levels. The speeding car and its romantic freedom, edged in lyrics like “City lights stretched out before us” is a soothing accompaniment to any traveling session. Fast car is really about chasing our dreams and getting out there, because heck, sometimes you just got to get away!
- Truckin’ – Grateful Dead
Acknowledged by the U.S. Library of Congress as a national treasure, this song was written and performed communally by Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and lyricist Robert Hunter, as a catchy, bluesy shuffle. These guys turned the band’s bad luck on the road into a metaphor for getting through life’s changes. Hopefully you don’t have any bad luck on your travels, but if you do, what’s a good trip without being able to say “What a long, strange trip it’s been?” At the end?
- Kokomo – The Beach Boys
Few songs better capture the feeling of what it’s like to vacation at a tropical destination. This one heads to a place “off the Florida Keys” where you can “get away from it all” — Kokomo. Fortunately for the traveler, Kokomo is actually a metaphor for any dream destination, and the relaxed vibe of this song perfectly captures the spirit of traveling near the beach.
- Istanbul, Not Constantinople – They Might Be Giants
This one has to be rated as a top-10 favorite travel song. As you might know, Istanbul was once called Constantinople. As the lyrics sing, “Istanbul was Constantinople. Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople. Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night.” Seriously, it’s a great audible travel-buddy!
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong’s enchanting voice and the way he sings about the beauty of the world is like a breath of fresh air at any traveling moment. The timeless message that states the importance of the wonders of the natural world, undoubtedly serves as a soothing melody to the soul along any journey.