Road Trip Music: Tips from a Chronic Traveler

What I'm about to confess may seem obvious: music is important to traveling. I would even go as far to say it is imperative.

It's the ultimate road trip companion: it can be quiet and reflective, entertaining and spirit lifting and more. Because of this, the songs you choose can ultimately set the tone and mindset of the trip.

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If you're not sure which songs to add to your playlist, which is especially difficult when multiple people in the car, don't worry. I've experienced enough road trips over the last decade to help steer you in the right musical direction. Here's a quick guide with some of my favorite bands and albums, and a full playlist to help you get started.


The first road-trip music artist who comes to mind is Joel P. West. This San Diego, California-based indie musician creates albums that link nature, adventure and a restless heart.
Other artists who have a similar quality:

  • Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
  • The Head and the Heart
  • Rocky Votolato
  • Twin Forks
  • David Ramirez
  • Ryan Adams
  • Eddie Vedder
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Two Gallants, and Dawes.


There are several albums on my iPod that make frequent appearances in my road trip music choices. It's because these albums capture the unexplainable essence that makes a long-distance journey so soul soothing. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Into the Wild (soundtrack),
  • Where the Wild Things Are (soundtrack)
  • Conor Oberst (self-titled album)
  • The Head and the Heart (self-titled album)
  • The Midnight Organ Fight, Frightened Rabbit
  • Dust Jacket, Joel P. West
  • I and Love and You, The Avett Brothers

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Here's a playlist of some of my favorite traveling songs. Add some of your top choices to make the ultimate soundtrack for your trip. 

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