How to make the perfect road trip playlist

Whether you’re planning a staycation, heading to a festival or travelling to see family and friends, ensuring that you have the perfect playlist to accompany your trip is essential. Not only can curating a selection of your favourite songs make the journey go quicker, but it means that you’ll be able to give the road your undivided attention until you reach your destination.

With the warmer weather, a summer road trip can be a fantastic activity. Scour a map to find a corner of the country that you’re yet to visit or even contemplate driving abroad for a sun-kissed holiday adventure, the choice is up to you. However, make sure that you have compiled some of the best driving songs into the soundtrack of your summer before leaving!

Where to begin

Two girls sitting in the car boot

When driving solo, blasting your Spotify or Apple Music playlists can provide you with a bank of your favourite songs. After all, you’re the one who chose to save them to your library. But when other passengers are going to be cooped up with you for the length of the journey, you need to take into account their tastes and preferences. Ensuring that you have a couple of songs on the playlist that you know they love, as well as some that you associate with each other, means that everyone can be kept happy.

Finding the balance between the songs is equally as important, especially if you’re travelling in a car full of people from all age groups. Sticking to one genre can get boring quickly, especially if you’ve stockpiled songs that you could’ve just heard whilst listening to the radio. Instead, mix it up and look at contrasting songs. A few classic songs that have aged well are brilliantly paired with show tunes, and popping in a few throwbacks never goes amiss.

We asked blogger Kat Kat from Kat Last what piece of advice she would offer to those putting together a summer playlist, and she shared this useful information with us: “This Summer if you’re going away and travelling by car, fill up your phone with songs that are related to the destination that you’re visiting. When we visited Western Canada, we really enjoyed listening to Canadian artists as we travelled across the region’s national parks. If you’re staying in the UK, Beatles tracks would be great for a road trip to Liverpool or if it’s Manchester that you’re visiting why not download Oasis.”


A road at sunset

Sabina from the family blog Mummy Matters shares that they have two different sorts of playlists that they enjoy whilst driving: “The first is the classic rock genre with Queen headlining because they are the best and we love it when Albie asks "can we listen to 'Mud on your face, you big disgrace' (We Will Rock You)".  If we want the children to sleep then we will switch to something like James Morrison or Tom Walker for some laid back vibes.”

Kat believes that the perfect song should be “lively and the kind of track that I’d usually toe tap to if I was out dancing. Rock and roll, country or even a bit of Motown are my usual go-to genres.” We also asked her what song she would add to the perfect road trip playlist: “Elvis Presley and the Rock and Roll greats always make it on to any road trip playlist of mine. 4 years ago I was fortunate enough to tour the Deep South and every time I listen to an Elvis track in the car it reminds me of the amazing time I had cruising around Tennessee and visiting Elvis’ Graceland in Memphis. Jailhouse Rock is a great track for a long road trip, but really I enjoy playing the entire 30 #1 Hits album whilst I’m driving.”

“I don’t have one specific song that is my ‘go-to’ when it comes to a road trip”, Keri from the travel blog Flip Flop Weekend tells us. “It truly depends on my mood at the moment. For the daily commute, I love listening to country music. I live in the United States, in the South, so it’s a big deal. We generally listen to whatever is on the radio in the mornings, but certain songs like Florida Georgia Line’s ‘Cruise’ just screams “ get behind the wheel and go!’

“But, if it’s sunny and we are headed to the beach, I definitely crank up some upbeat oldies like “ Sweet Home Alabama” or maybe a kitschy poppy number like Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” … the kind of songs you know by heart and just make you want to dance around in the car when the roof is open.”

We also spoke to Haydy from Squibb Vicious, who let us in on one of her favourite songs to drive to: “One of my all time most favourite songs to drive to is 'Everywhere' by Fleetwood Mac. No matter how bad the traffic is, how bad the weather can get, or how long I've spent driving, ‘Everywhere’ just picks up the mood and puts me back in a happy place with its cheerful beats and summer feel!”.

Tips and Tricks

A road trip

If you’re travelling in a used Ford car, you need to think about your method of listening to the playlist. Gone are the days of burning off a CD of your favourite songs, and now Bluetooth or an AUX cord will do the trick. Most importantly to remember, however, is this important tip that Haydy shared with us: “I'd always recommend downloading the playlist onto your phone so if you lose 4G or signal you've still got your tunes!”

If your playlist is on your phone, you’ll also need to make sure that it remains charged for the duration of your journey – there’s nothing worse than losing signal halfway through your solo! Keep your phone plugged into a portable charger or you can pick up an inexpensive USB car charger that can be placed in the cigarette lighter port to keep you topped up throughout the drive,

If you’re planning on creating a summer road trip playlist, here are a few tips and tricks for you to take into consideration:

  • Make sure each of your passengers has one of their favourite songs included
  • Mix up the genres and keep the playlist unpredictable
  • Pick songs that will make you happy
  • Ensure you have your USB, AUX or a Bluetooth connection before leaving
  • Pack a charger to keep your phone topped up