Music for Roadtrips

Australia is a country made for roadtripping. We have clean, decent roads with few tolls (we also have rugged four-wheel driving experiences), magnificent and diverse environments, and interesting characters of the human and animal variety. Seriously, watch out for drop bears 🙂

One of my earliest memories was taking a roadtrip from Sydney, New South Wales to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland during the summer holidays. I was 5. My parents, younger brother, uncle and his wife and I packed up the car and spent a few weeks travelling north staying at caravan parks along the way. It was the first time I held a koala, and first time (and not the last!) my brother and I donned matching t-shirts.

I was 8 when we’d roadtripped around Tasmania, Australia. We’d hired a car, and went from town to town eating delicious local produce and playing on the beach. This was also the first time I discovered motion sickness. To ease the suffering, my brother and I would sing along to music by Michael Jackson and The Beatles (a negotiated decision between parents and children); loudly and proudly to distract the thoughts and feelings of queasiness. And it worked!

roadtrip - Utah, United States of America USA
Roadtripping. Utah, United States of America

Still a regular roadtripper, we’ve been fortunate enough to go cross-country in Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Scotland, and the United States, as well as across state/province and national borders in Europe and North America. This week, we’re making a 1600km (995 miles) journey from Perth, Western Australia to the Pilbara region in the state’s north. My preparation includes making sure we have enough music as well as cash, water, food and fuel. Of course, music is the most fun part. Here’s some of our favourite roadtrip songs:


A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton

Across the Universe -The Beatles

Another Travelin’ Song – Bright Eyes

Around the World – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Bangarang – Skrillex

Big Jet Plane – Angus and Julia Stone

Black Betty – Spiderbait

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft Pharrell and T.I.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Bonfire Heart – James Blunt

Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf

Bright Side of the Road – Van Morrison

California (Tchad Blake Mix) – Phantom Planet

California Love – Tupac

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

Chasing the Sun – Xaiver Rudd

City of Blinding Lights – U2

Crazy in Love – Beyonce (Original version)

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds

Everyday is a Winding Road – Sheryl Crow

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

Happy – Pharrell

Highway to Hell – ACDC

Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles

Hitchin’ a Ride – Green Day

Holiday – Madonna

Home – Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros

Hotel California – The Eagles

I Could Be the One – Avicii v Nicky Romero

I Feel Good – James Brown

I’m Gonna Be [500 Miles] – The Proclaimers

In the Summertime – Thirsty Merc

Interstate Love Song – Stone Temple Pilots

It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash

Let’s Take A Ride – Justin Timberlake

Life in the Fast Lane – The Eagles

Life is a Highway – Rascall Flatts

Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars

Love Shack – The B52s

Movin’ Right Along – The Muppets

Mustang Sally – The Commitments

My Sharona – The Knack

Nowhere I’d Rather Be – Clean Bandit

Nut Bush City – Tina Turner

On the Road Again – Willie Nelson

Paradise City – Guns’n’Roses

Passenger – Iggy Pop

Riding Solo – Jason Derulo

Roadtrippin’ – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Runaway – Janet Jackson

Shut Up and Drive – Rihanna

Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones

Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees

Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo ft 2 Chainz

The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles

The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson

These Books are Made for Walking – Nancy Sinatra

Thrift Shop – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Ticket to Ride – The Beatles

Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars

Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley

Waking Up in Vegas – Katy Perry

Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

War – Tom Jones

We Built This City – Starship

Weekend – Black Eyed Peas

What I Like About You – The Romantics

Where the Streets have No Name – U2

Young Girls – Bruno Mars



Don’t pick too many sad, romantic ballads – if you are the driver, at no point, do you want to be singing so passionately that you close your eyes like a true performer. These may include songs by Mariah, Celine, Whitney… (You get the picture). Crying whilst driving is also not recommended.

Same goes for songs that are too soothing or relaxing – Sleeping whilst driving is also not recommended. These may include Sade, Dido, Enya…

Sleeping on roadtrips, United States of America USA
Did the driver purposely pick relaxing music to tame his passengers?


CDs? Make sure you have enough for the drive. Unless you’re happy to listen to one CD the entire way. At least, you’re guaranteed to learn all the words 🙂

Digital music? Ensure you have all your various USB/AUX/cigarette lighter cables, etc. Plug things in and make sure it all works before you start your journey. Also make sure you’re using a format that is suitable for your car such mp3.

Local radio stations – Google their frequencies. Or note the signage on the roadside. It’s usually sign-posted when you drive into town.

Stream music? You could stream using your phone. However, consider phone battery, data usage, and if you’re going remote, you might not have any cellular reception.

Have you got a travel companion – Do not get distracted with changing songs or radio stations, let the passenger do it. Also negotiate the music preferences (perhaps, you already know you like the same artists). Otherwise, you could be straying into the ways to annoy your travel companion. Click here for our tips to avoid blow outs.

Play games – If you get sick of your music, silence is ok. You can also play a variety of games, like ‘I Spy’ or alphabet games such as “I went to a picnic and I brought an ‘apple'”, ‘banana’ ‘chair’, etc… with the next person having to recite all the predecessors in the correct order before adding their own answer.

Take breaks. No matter if you have a deadline to get to your destination. Don’t forget to take breaks. Stop to change drivers, stretch, get fresh air, bathroom breaks, take photos, check out the scenery, eat.

roadtrip rest stop - Western Australia, Australia
Mucking around at a rest stop. Western Australia, Australia


Playlists – Looking for something new or just want to take the hard work out of planning your roadtrip music? Get some recommendations from Spotify, Pandora or Shazam.

Sing-a-long – Disney and musicals are the best! My favourites are Aladdin, Frozen, The Jungle Book, Rent: The Musical, and Jesus Christ Superstar. The kiddies will love this!

User friendly – If you’re travelling with others, pick music that is language and age-appropriate. You might want to leave behind your Death Metal or angry girl favourites when there are young’ns and grannies in the car 🙂

Was any of your favourites in our list? We’d love to hear what your favourite roadtrip songs are. Tell us here!

Happy roadtripping,
Bag Most Travelled

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