Music speaks to us in so many ways. It can affect our mood, bring back memories, and help us connect with and relate to others nearby. It can make us happy and energized, or it can help us relax and feel calm after a long and tough day.
It can remind us of the happiest times in our lives. It can even help us tell others how we feel. There’s no doubt that music is an amazing force; it can evoke deep feelings and capture the human experience in a way that no other medium can.
Songs have been written about every topic under the sun for as long as people have created music. Some things are the subject of countless songs: patriotism, holidays and celebrations, and of course, the biggest one of all, love, both found and lost, are common themes in music.
One other common topic for lyrical composition in songs of all genres is travel. Humans have been traveling as long as music has existed, so it’s no wonder our drive for adventure has inspired so many great tunes.
There are hundreds of songs about traveling, and many are very well-known.
What We Cover
- The Ultimate Travel Playlist
- 1. Promised Land – Chuck Berry
- 2. Truckin’ – The Grateful Dead
- 3. On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
- 4. Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf
- 5. I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
- 6. Ramblin’ Man – Hank Williams
- 7. Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
- 8. Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
- 9. Train Song – Phish
- 10. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
- 11. End of the Line – Traveling Wilburys
- 12. A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton
- 13. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
- 14. Travelin’ Man – Ricky Nelson
- 15. Around the World – Daft Punk
- 16. Have Love, Will Travel – The Sonics
- 17. King of the Road – Roger Miller
- 18. Roam – B52’s
- 19. Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
- 20. Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
- 21. Califonia Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas
- 22. Holiday Road – Lindsey Buckingham
- 23. Jet Airliner – Steve Miller Band
- 24. Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & the Pips
- 25. Leaving on a Jet Plane – Peter, Paul, and Mary
- 26. Havana – Camila Cabello
- 27. Kokomo – The Beach Boys
- 28. Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- 29. Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
- 30. Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
- 31. Island in the Sun – Weezer
- 32. America – Simon & Garfunkel
- 33. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
- 34. Going Up the Country – Canned Heat
- 35. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
The Ultimate Travel Playlist
If you’re planning a trip, it’s great to have some music to go along with it and with you. Music can be incredible travel inspiration and it can also provide a fantastic soundtrack for your adventures. Creating a playlist of travel songs should be high on your list of to-dos before any trip.
Once you’ve made your ultimate travel playlist, you can return to it repeatedly on every trip you take in the future.
There are countless songs about travel out there. Some you likely already know and can rattle off without a second thought. Others may have slipped under your radar.
That’s where we come in. We put together this list of travel songs to get you started. Many of these are the favorite songs of people who love to travel. However, if you don’t see your favorite song about travel here, you should add it to your playlist when you make it in addition to all of these.
The perfect playlist can make any trip or adventure even better. You’ll have so much fun on your vacation when you put these tunes on a playlist and press play.
1. Promised Land – Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry wrote this 1964 tune while he was in prison and was excited to get back on the road. The “promised land” he speaks of is the great state of California. Still, the song mentions about a dozen other U.S. cities starting in Norfolk, Virginia before he reaches his final destination.
It might sound familiar to you even if you’re sure you haven’t heard it before – it’s set to the melody of Wabash Cannonball. This song has been covered by many others over the past six decades, most notably by The Grateful Dead and Elvis Presley.
Best Time to Listen: This song is excellent for getting you excited as you head out on the road on a new adventure.
See Related: 21 Tips for Beating Post-Travel Blues
2. Truckin’ – The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was known for its traveling fanbase and heavy touring schedule throughout the band’s career. Therefore, it’s no surprise that many of their songs included lyrics about traveling.
Truckin’ is one of the band’s most well-known songs; it first appeared on their 1970 album American Beauty. In 1997, two years after frontman Jerry Garcia’s death, the United States Library of Congress recognized it as an official national treasure.
The song tells of the band’s travels and culminates in the arrest of most of the band for drug possession in New Orleans. One line of the lyrics, “what a long, strange trip it’s been,” has been common in popular culture since the song’s initial release.
Best Time to Listen: Give Truckin‘ a listen when you are driving on an interstate where you’re surrounded by more trucks than cars.
3. On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
On the Road Again is one of country music legend Willie Nelson’s most popular songs; it won him a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1980, the year it was released.
This is one of the most well-known songs about traveling out there and people will sing along with it anywhere it is played.
It tells about life on tour and the excitement and fun that surrounds every bit of it. This song will remind you why you love to travel and that there’s nothing on earth as marvelous as being on the road with your best friends.
Best Time to Listen: This is a great song to get you excited for any kind of trip you’re taking with your favorite travel companions.
See Related: Inspiring Travel Quotes
4. Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf
Born to Be Wild is an epic tune that speaks to every one of us in some way or another. After all, aren’t we all born to be wild? This song first appeared in the ultimate travel movie: Easy Rider. It also contains the world’s first musical reference to Heavy Metal!
When that film came out in 1969, it inspired the Great American Road Trip for so many people. As Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda ride their motorcycles across the nation, every single one of us wants to be there with them.
This song, which is about “head[ing] out on the highway” and “looking for adventure” while being the most primal, brave, and bold version of ourselves is as uplifting and encouraging as it gets. This is also considered to be the first-ever heavy metal song, which is pretty neat.
Best Time to Listen: Put Born to Be Wild on when you’ve finished that last shift at work before your big trip.
5. I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash didn’t write I’ve Been Everywhere but his version is one of the most popular.
This song was written by Australian country singer Geoff Mack in 1959 and it has been sung and recorded by dozens of artists since then.
The original version mentions almost one hundred Australian towns the songwriter visited; it has subsequently been altered by many musicians to reflect their own travels.
Johnny Cash recorded this song with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers for his 1996 Unchained album, which consisted mostly of covers; the album won a Grammy for Best Country Album that year.
Best Time to Listen: Give I’ve Been Everywhere a spin when you’re looking back upon all of your past adventures.
6. Ramblin’ Man – Hank Williams
Hank Williams was one of our country’s most significant and influential songwriters so far.
This song is written from the point of view of a man who can’t settle down with a woman he loves. He cannot control his desire to roam, so roam he will; he’s sorry, but she’s just going to have to deal with it.
Best Time to Listen: Listen to this song when you’re headed out on a solo trip because your partner is stuck at work.
7. Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
This Allman Brothers Band tune was inspired by the Hank Williams song of the same name, but it’s a completely different song!
Like Williams’ version, the lyrics are spoken by a man who loves the open road and everything that comes along with it.
His audience is anyone who will listen, but the chorus does imply that writer Dickey Betts will likely also be leaving someone behind in favor of his travels.
This is one of those travel songs that every traveler of any gender loves and can identify with. We were born to ramble, so ramble we shall – no one, and nothing is going to stop us.
Best Time to Listen: If you’re driving or traveling around the American South, this song is one of the most fitting rock and roll tunes you’ll find.
8. Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
This song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was the fifth and final single from the band’s hit 1999 Californication album. This is one of those travel songs that should be on every road trip mix and it tells the story of a road trip that the band took together.
Well, most of the band, anyway; drummer Chad Smith had another commitment that day.
The other three band members, Flea, Anthony Kiedis, and John Frusciante drove up the California coast from Los Angeles to Big Sur to go surfing after Frusciante decided to rejoin the band following a brief split.
Best Time to Listen: Play this song on your car stereo when you call in sick to work to take a spontaneous road trip with your buddies.
See Related: How to Go on a Road Trip with Kids
9. Train Song – Phish
It was during one of their European tours that bassist Mike Gordon was inspired to write Train Song. This serene melody flows in a way that somehow is reminiscent of the slow, rolling movement of a train; it immediately puts the listener at ease.
Give it a listen – you’ll likely find that it can magically calm you during the most stressful moments of your travels.
Best Time to Listen: This song is perfect for rail travel – in the United States, in Europe, or anywhere.
10. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
Although singer/songwriter John Denver is best known as a Coloradan, this song about West Virginia is one of his most famous and well-loved.
It was first released as a single in 1971 but it still sells well today; so far, it has sold over 1.6 million digital copies, and it is covered by artists from all over the world. It’s the official state song of West Virginia.
However, even though some of the verses and the chorus refer to West Virginia.
It speaks of traveling back home along country lanes singing all the way, and it can therefore be adapted to anyone’s return to their hometown (the Toots & the Maytals cover about Jamaica, for one example, is excellent), any place that place may be.
This song is less about traveling itself and more about returning home, but to come back home, you have to go away first – so this works on our list of songs about traveling for sure.
Best Time to Listen: Listen to (and sing along with) this song and get misty when you’re on your way back home in the US after a long time away.
11. End of the Line – Traveling Wilburys
The Traveling Wilburys were a supergroup formed in the late 1980s that consisted of Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne – each a long-established rock n’ roll legend.
They only had the chance to release one album before the passing of Roy Orbison, and End of the Line was the second single off that album.
This song is short but very catchy – it’s danceable and upbeat. All band members except Bob Dylan sing on it and it talks about how the fact that “it’s alright, everything’ll work out fine” as we all head on down the road together.
Is the “road” they sing about metaphorical? Probably…but it still works as a fun and uplifting road trip song as you head on down that real road, too.
Best Time to Listen: Play this one after you’ve had some rough and challenging travel days. They happen to all of us – but don’t worry, it’s all part of the adventure.
12. A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton
A Thousand Miles is pop singer Vanessa Carlton’s most well-known song and with good reason – it’s super catchy, her voice is lovely, and it has interesting time signatures and lyrics.
Not only that, but it combines two popular lyrical themes: travel and love. In this song, the speaker tells the object of her love that she would “walk a thousand miles” to see him or her.
That’s a LOT of walking – are you up for it?
Best Time to Listen: If you’re in or are thinking about starting a long-distance relationship, this song will really hit home.
13. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
How about five hundred if you don’t want to walk a thousand miles? This song by Scottish duo The Proclaimers was everywhere in 1999. Once heard, this love and travel song by twin brothers Craig and Charlie Ried will stick with you for days or weeks or even years.
One thing is for sure – if you want to be with the one you love, no distance is too far to travel.
Best Time to Listen: If you’re giddy with new love and willing to go to the end of the earth for someone, give this one a spin…or if you’re on your way for a boozy night out in Scotland!
14. Travelin’ Man – Ricky Nelson
This song is a classic. It was written in 1961 by singer/songwriter Jerry Fuller for Sam Cooke; Cooke turned it down, so Ricky Nelson recorded it instead.
For Nelson, it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The lyrics tell of the excitement and glory of the concept of having “a woman in every port” including Mexico, Hong Kong, Germany, Hawaii, Alaska, and others.
Although that practice may be somewhat outdated in this day and age (unless it’s all consensual!), this song stands the test of time and holds up. Ricky Nelson’s silky smooth and innocent voice almost makes you want to forgive him for his youthful transgressions.
Best Time to Listen: This song is a good one if you fall in love with someone new everywhere you go. Don’t worry – you’re not alone – it happens to the best of us.
15. Around the World – Daft Punk
The only lyrics to this song are “around the world” over and over. If you’re familiar with Daft Punk, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
This French electronic music duo focuses its efforts on beats, not lyrics.
However, that doesn’t mean this song is no good – just the opposite! If you’re looking for a travel anthem that will get you fired up upon departure and leave you dancing in your car, train, or airplane seat, start your travel mixtape with this one.
It’ll get you going and will make you super amped for whatever your destination may be.
Best Time to Listen: If you’re stuck in a car or on a plane or a train but all you want to do is dance, put this on, and groove in your seat.
16. Have Love, Will Travel – The Sonics
Have Love, Will Travel is a hit song written by Richard Berry in 1959. Berry’s most famous composition was Louie, Louie which, believe it or not, is also about travel (check out the lyrics).
It’s been recorded and performed by dozens of bands over the years but the most popular recording is the one by pre-punk rockers The Sonics in 1965.
The title is a play on the name of a popular television show of the time, Have Gun, Will Travel, but like so many other songs on this list, the lyrics speak of love, not war.
Best Time to Listen: Listen to this song if you are far from your love and are willing to travel anywhere or anyhow to reunite with him or her.
17. King of the Road – Roger Miller
Roger Miller first recorded this tune in 1964. Once you’ve heard it once, you’ll always remember it.
This song‘s lyrics take a different angle than the others on this list; it is from the point of view of a homeless traveling man who relishes every bit of his unfettered and carefree life.
The upbeat joy expressed in this song is enough to make you want to sell everything you own and give van life a try as soon as possible so that you, too, can be king or queen of the open road.
Best Time to Listen: This song will speak to you most when that intense feeling of joyful freedom hits and grabs hold – usually a few days or weeks into a long journey.
18. Roam – B52’s
Roam by the B52’s is another upbeat, anthemic tune that makes you want to get up and go.
This song was the fourth single from the band’s fifth album Cosmic Thing in 1989. It is sung by the two female vocalists, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, and showcases their abilities.
This song talks about traveling with someone you love and encourages the listener to “roam if you want to/roam around the world/roam if you want to/without anything but the love we feel.”
Man, anyone who has ever had a romantic getaway with their love sure can identify with that!
Best Time to Listen: Give this song a spin when you’re trying to convince one of your friends or your love to go on a trip with you.
19. Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
Although his song is actually about the impending apocalypse according to David Byrne, you can interpret it however else you’d like for your road trip, certainly.
It sounds high-spirited – that was the point; it’s intended to be a “joyful look at doom.”
However, the band included this tune on their 1985 album Little Creatures and we’re still, thus far, apocalypse-free, so that’s a good sign. Throw this one on the car stereo and have a blast while there’s still time.
Best Time to Listen: Put on Road to Nowhere when it’s late at night and you’re tired and lost and you need a little boost for that final push to the hotel.
20. Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
Send Me On My Way is Rusted Root’s most famous song. It’s one that sticks with you, and, even though it was written almost thirty years ago in 1992, it’s kind of timeless.
The lyrics to this song are not very deep at all, but the melody and playful musical backing make you want to smile and then get up and dance.
The video for it was filmed in Badlands National Park which further makes it inspirational fodder for your next national parks road trip, too.
Best Time to Listen: When you’re headed out on the road early in the morning as the sun comes up, listen and sing along to this one.
21. Califonia Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas
If you’ve ever been to California and then had to leave, chances are that you’ve done some California dreaming yourself.
In fact, people who haven’t even ever been to California may sometimes find themselves dreaming of it – it’s a state with a magical quality to it for most (especially on such a winter’s day).
This 1965 song by The Mamas & The Papas accurately captures the yearning that so many of us have in the dead of winter when we are far from places we love and especially warmer, more comfortable climes.
Best Time to Listen: Listen to California Dreamin’ when you are stuck somewhere cold dreaming about literally anywhere warm.
See Related: Epic Minnesota to California Road Trip Itinerary
22. Holiday Road – Lindsey Buckingham
This song by Fleetwood Mac guitarist and singer Lindsey Buckingham was written in 1983 to be the theme song for one of the best travel movies of all time, National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Just a few bars of this song will have anyone who has seen any of the above films giggling and reciting their favorite lines and recounting their favorite parts. Clark Griswold is all of us. We are all Clark Griswold.
Best Time to Listen: If you’re taking a cross-country road trip with the whole family, this is the song for you.
23. Jet Airliner – Steve Miller Band
Jet Airliner is one of many Steve Miller Band classics and it’s likely that at some point in your life you’ve sung this song at the top of your lungs at a bar somewhere – and if you haven’t already, then you should.
This song was written by Paul Pena in 1973 and was recorded and popularized by Steve Miller in 1977.
It tells of a young man heading out his own in the great big world while at the same time missing home immensely. Lots of us know that feeling when traveling a bit better than we might like to admit.
Best Time to Listen: Press play on Jet Airliner when you’re enjoying your travels but a part of you is missing your home.
24. Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & the Pips
It was originally written and performed by songwriter Jim Weatherly; in his version, it was a midnight train to Houston, not Georgia, but it was changed along the way to become the song we know today.
Although going home after defeat is not the type of travel that most of us crave or desire, it’s still traveling, after all, and this tune would be a fine addition to your mix of travel songs.
Best Time to Listen: When something didn’t work out and it’s time to go home and regroup, plus this song on.
25. Leaving on a Jet Plane – Peter, Paul, and Mary
There are other ways to leave besides on a midnight train – a jet plane is another option. This song was Peter, Paul, and Mary’s final hit and was their only song to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.
You might be surprised to learn that it was written and recorded by John Denver, but his version, which was released at almost the same time, did not get the attention that the Peter, Paul, and Mary version did.
This is one of those travel songs that has a sadness to it, as it is sung from the point of view of someone leaving the one that he or she loves to head out on the road for an indeterminate amount of time.
As much as we all love traveling, it’s sometimes hard to say goodbye to those we’ll miss while we’re gone.
Best Time to Listen: If you’re going on a trip and don’t know when you’ll be back again, give this song a spin.
26. Havana – Camila Cabello
Cabello has a deep, personal connection to this colorful foreign city – she’s Cuban, after all – and we further know this because she proclaims “Ooh na na half my heart is in Havana” again and again throughout the just over three-minute composition.
As travelers, we can identify with this intense love for a place; certainly, we all have a city or country we’ve left half our hearts in for one reason or another at some point along the way. Ooh na na na, indeed.
Best Time to Listen: Are you intensely missing someplace you’d love to be? Listen to Havana. Camila Cabello knows how you feel.
27. Kokomo – The Beach Boys
Although Kokomo is a fictional place, many real Caribbean islands are mentioned in its lyrics, and the tune is light, airy, and ethereal, much like many of the band’s older compositions.
This song made it to number one on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the band’s last of four songs to achieve this status – the one prior to 1988’s Kokomo was Good Vibrations in 1966.
Best Time to Listen: If you’re itching to get away to a tropical island, Kokomo will hit the spot.
28. Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Like so many other songs on this list, Travelin’ Band is a celebration of the traveling that so many bands do when they engage in a concert tour.
Lead singer, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter for the band John Fogerty wrote this tune, and the band recorded and released it in 1970; it soon became a staple of the band’s live performances.
Fogerty aimed to capture the sound of the 1950s in this one and clearly succeeded since this song was the target of a plagiarism lawsuit – settled out of court – by Little Richard, who claimed it sounded an awful lot like his Good Golly, Miss Molly.
Whether it’s a true rip-off or not, we’ll never know – but it sure does get the listener fired up about heading out on the road to see the country, even if you’ve never been in a band yourself.
Best Time to Listen: Do you travel for work? Even if you’re not a 1970s rock star, this song might speak to you.
29. Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
1991’s Life is a Highway by Canadian rocker Tom Cochrane might just be the ultimate travel song.
Even if you don’t agree with that statement, you have to at least agree that it’s one of the best road trip songs out there. This super upbeat tune features a danceable beat, a singable chorus, and even some harmonica – the chosen instrument of light travelers everywhere.
The music video that goes along with it encapsulates the feeling of fun and adventure on our nation’s highways and it’s difficult to watch it without smiling.
You simply can’t create a travel songs playlist without including this song – and when you’re out there doing your thing, there’s no way you won’t be humming and singing along.
It’s a wonderful life that we travelers lead, and this song will remind you of that fact every time you hear it.
Best Time to Listen: This song is perfect for any sort of driving trip, anywhere in the world, in the beginning, middle, or end of your adventure.
30. Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
Fly Away is a rocking song by rockin’ dude Lenny Kravitz, a man who exhibits rock stardom better than most other musicians of our time.
Although this 1999 song is less about travel than it is about picking up and leaving behind all the things that hold you back from who you are, it metaphorically inspires the listener to traditional travel and adventure as well.
After all, wouldn’t we all love to just fly away from everything now and then?
Lenny knows. Lenny gets it.
Best Time to Listen: Fly Away is a great song for any time you are feeling held back by anything, especially if you know a good travel adventure will set you back right.
31. Island in the Sun – Weezer
This 2001 hit by Weezer makes us all want to run away to a tropical paradise with the one we love most. This love song is cute, catchy, memorable, and cheerful.
The lyrics are spoken by one person to the object of his or her affections, encouraging him or her to travel to an island to play, to have fun, and to live happily ever after together, forever.
I think this is a travel itinerary that almost anyone can get behind.
Best Time to Listen: Any time you’re planning a vacation with your beloved this song will get you excited about what lies ahead.
32. America – Simon & Garfunkel
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel wrote and sang a lot of songs that are indelible parts of the American experience, and their 1968 song America is certainly one of them.
Literally, this song tells of a road trip by Greyhound bus as the speaker has some laughs with his companion and the pair watch the world go by outside. Figuratively, the pair are looking for much more than what’s stated.
If you’ve ever taken a bus or hitchhiked long distances across the USA, then you’ll identify with this song with all of your being.
Best Time to Listen: If you ever find yourself on a long-distance bus, in America, or anywhere else in the world, this song will speak to you.
33. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Go Your Own Way is about the end of the romance between Fleetwood Mac members Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, but the lyrics can apply to a lot of different things and this is one of those songs that can be interpreted however the listener wishes.
Buckingham wrote this song for the band’s album Rumours in 1977.
Although this song is full of emotion about the rift between two people who continued to work together, it’s a great reminder to everyone, especially travelers, to do whatever is best for you and to go your own way in your travels as well as in your life.
Best Time to Listen: This song will be a great soundtrack for you on the first big trip you take after a painful breakup.
See Related: What is the Cheapest Way to Travel Across the US?
34. Going Up the Country – Canned Heat
This song by Canned Heat is very unique and memorable. This is true of all the songs by this band thanks to the distinctive vocals of lead singer Alan Wilson.
Canned Heat is considered a blues-rock band, and this song was musically based on bluesman Henry Thomas’ 1928 song Bull Doze Blues.
The lyrics, however, were altered – this song talks about getting away from it all, going where the water tastes like wine, jumping in the water, and staying drunk all the time.
Many believe this tune implies going to Canada to flee the draft for the Vietnam Conflict – something many Americans were doing when this song was released in 1968 – so it’s a perfect song to accompany your most rebellious travels.
Best Time to Listen: If you’re taking a trip to get away from everything that bothers you, put this tune on.
35. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
Ramble On is one of Led Zeppelin’s best and most popular songs.
It has a little bit of everything that makes Zeppelin the epic band that they were, including an epic drumbeat by John Bonham, falsetto singing by Robert Plant, guitar build-up and release by Jimmy Page, and a driving bassline from John Paul Jones.
Furthermore, it contains lyrics about one of the most interesting fictional journeys of all time – the quest of Frodo and friends in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Like those Hobbits, you know you just “gotta keep on ramblin’.” Don’t we all, Zep. Don’t we all.
Best Time to Listen: Ramble On is a great song to listen to if you are traveling on foot around Middle-earth, or anytime you are on a long trip that just keeps going and going…