Why you need to create the perfect playlist for your road trip

Of all quintessential American traditions, taking a road trip is one that will continue to endear. Long before the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was passed, American drivers had already become accustomed to the freedom and thrill of the open road, particularly during the summer. It doesn’t matter if you are driving across the country from coast to coast, or from border to border; even cruising through a few counties within your state can be an adventure, one that needs to have the right music playlist.

Every road trip can be an adventure; as long as you are driving far away from home for the purpose of going somewhere—you will have opportunities to enjoy the scenery, explore towns and communities along the way, and, have some new experiences. During those long stretches of open road, with the right music playing, it can make a road trip more enjoyable…even more epic!

Road Trip Playlists

A road trip soundtrack can serve a purpose that goes beyond entertainment; it can also set a specific mood and enhance the overall experience. While you can always rely on local radio stations, selecting the music you will be listening to prior to getting on the road is always the best approach. A premium subscription to a digital audio streaming service such as Spotify will allow you to put together a playlist that will work even when you are driving through spots where there is no wireless broadband connectivity.

Playlists for Driving Solo

Road trips are always better with friends or families, but this is not always possible. Many drivers prefer to load up on podcasts instead of music because they appreciate listening to voices that can provide company; to this effect, you will want to mix things up instead of sticking to a single topic. Even the most hardcore Howard Stern fans, for example, will only be able to handle a few hours of his satellite radio channel before switching off to something else. You can choose one comedy podcast, one about current affairs, another about finance, one that deals with psychology, one about sports, and perhaps one about history.

Top-20 Best Road Trip Songs by MikesRoadTrip.com

If you prefer music while driving by yourself, the choice of playlist is all yours, and this is a good time to put together songs that you have not heard for a while; just start thinking of one after another and throw all of them into a shuffled playlist. Many drivers swear by instrumental music to keep them focused on the road, and this would be a good chance for listening to entire catalogs. John Coltrane’s “The Atlantic Years,” for example, will give you about 15 hours of listening.

Pick Regional Themes

Putting together a thematic soundtrack that matches the places you are driving through can be a lot of fun. The idea is simple: driving past desert mansions in Palm Springs will likely make you think of The Eagles and the Beach Boys, and you should include this kind of California rock on your soundtrack.

playlist for your road trip in an old car

Let’s say you are going from Atlanta to Boston with friends; you can start off with James Brown and some REM before switching off to country rock and bluegrass. By the time you start approaching New Jersey, you can listen to Bruce Springsteen and The Smithereens; once you are closer to New York City, old school hip-hop would be appropriate. Aerosmith and Morphine could finish your trip.

Set Music Genres by Driving Stages

This is a recommendation often given by busy chefs who spend all day in the kitchen. Guy Fieri, for example, prefers mellow country when he is getting ready for work; once he is in the kitchen getting ready for the lunch crowd, however, he switches to classic rock, especially artists with a bit of an edge such as Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and Joan Jett. By the time waiters are turning over the dining room for the evening rush, he prefers New Wave from the 1980s or the entire “Miami Vice: The Complete Collection,” which will play through dinner until midnight. You can follow a similar method for putting together a playlist that changes things up after a few hours on the road.

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.