Summer Road Trip Songs: Your Summer Driving Playlist

Your Summer '17 Road Trip Playlist

Written by Shannon O’Donnell on

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008 and has lived everywhere from Southeast Asia to Barcelona, where she now calls home. She travels slowly and supports responsible tourism along the way, winning numerous awards for her work advocating for the communities impacted by travel and tourism.

Your Summer '17 Road Trip Playlist

You have your best friends, you have your bags packed, and you have the GPS set for your destination—all that’s left for the perfect road trip is a rockin’ soundtrack. This summery playlist gives you a little rock, a little rap, and a little lovin’ to make your journey unforgettable.

Every great adventure needs a soundtrack. Music is the soul of life; it’s the reason certain songs evoke memories in us like little else can. Heading on a road trip this summer? The Eagle Creek summer road trip playlist has a bit of something for everyone: a little classic, a little new, and a lot of awesome.

Track 1: “Shut Up And Drive” by Rihanna

Kick off your playlist with this high-energy track by reigning swag queen RiRi that’s light on the depth and heavy on the fun. The message is apropos and will get every passenger amped for the journey ahead. Rihanna’s exhortation to “start me up and watch me go, go, go, go” is an instant earworm and a great opening number.

Track 2: “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

A good playlist needs at least one epic singalong song—one that everyone in the car will belt at the top of his or her lungs. This one does the trick. Whether you’re actually driving 500 miles (or “500 more”) or merely crossing city limits, this classic anthem will get your whole group hyped for the long distance ahead.

Track 3: “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots

The 90s are currently experiencing a stylistic renaissance, and that’s why this moody jam from 1994 is perfect. (Well, that and its peerless title.) After the high-energy singalong of the last track, you’re going to want something to mellow you a bit, and Scott Weiland’s grungy vocals will be just the elixir you seek.

Track 4: “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars

Every good summertime playlist needs some swagger, and Bruno, as usual, brings it. “That’s What I Like” is a tribute to the finer things in life, including shrimp scampi, strawberry champagne, and trips to Paris. It’s eminently singable, and guaranteed to put the car in a good mood. No matter where your personal trip is headed, this one should be in rotation.

Track 5: “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber

So what if you can’t keep up with the Spanish lyrics? Justin Bieber can’t, either. This reggaeton-flavored track is sure to be the “song of the summer” this year, so you might as well give into the relentless radio repeats and include it on your playlist. It’s a sexy song about seducing a lovely señorita on the beach—in other words, it’s totally seasonal.

Track 6: “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

It’s time to slow it down again; this time with a lyrics-driven, emotional track from the flawless Tracy Chapman. “Fast Car” is an ode to that boy with the Mustang, or the Corvette—something sexy and speedy—and represents a whole lot more than just a way to get around. The narrative voice of the song fails to realize her dreams with the driver of the titular fast car, but the haunting chorus—“So remember we were driving, driving in your car / Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk”—will enchant you the same way passing streetlights do when you’re heading somewhere (anywhere) late at night.

Track 7: “Malibu” by Miley Cyrus

Whether your roadtrip includes some California dreamin’, East Coast reppin’, or heartlands mojo, this paean to SoCal love is a quintessential summer jam. Miley returns to her softer side, and you’ll feel like waving your hand out an open window to let it kiss the breeze. Soaked in sunshine and drowning in true-love, feel-good lyrics, this is another Summer 2017 must-listen.

Track 8: “Ride Wit’ Me” by Nelly

This is yet another throwback that’s sure to get the late-20-somethings in the backseat screaming along with every line. Nelly raps smoothly about picking up girls in the club and taking them for a ride in his “Benz-E.” It has an irresistible rhythm and a built-in nostalgia factor that can’t be beat.

Track 9: “On The Way Home” by John Mayer

This track is dedicated to a journey’s conclusion, a ditty about the end of summer and the moving on that comes with it. Mayer sings about a Labor Day shoreline scene, with lifeguards shooing people out of the ocean and a town shuttering for the long winter ahead. It’s a bittersweet song that evokes the feeling of heading back to the place from where you came. Plus, it contains the quotable and unforgettable closing line: “And if you might find that your running is done / A little bit of Heaven never hurt no one.”

Track 10: “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Sometimes the best part about a journey is returning to the familiar place at the end of the road. This 2010 indie hit is a quirky love song about home being “wherever I’m with you,” and its jingly beat and catchy chorus will have you humming the whole time you’re unpacking your bags. Home is, after all, where the heart is.

Your turn, readers: What hits are on your personal summer playlist?

Related links (from Eagle Creek blog):

What To Pack For a Music Festival

The Best Travel Bags for Summer Vacation

Packing for a Family Road Trip