The Ultimate Family Road Trip Playlist

Clay and I have been taking long road trips since our dating years in college. We were both out-of-state students at Clemson University and had a 650+ mile drive home – me to Pennsylvania and him to Ohio. During breaks we occasionally accompanied each other on these long drives home, unaware that they were just the beginning of what would be a lifetime of road trips together. Living far away from family and moving across the country on the whims of Uncle Sam have resulted in hundreds of thousands of miles logged together. Malcom Gladwell famously reasoned that 10,000 hours of practice can turn anyone into an expert – by that logic, Clay and I are fast approaching road trip expert status. Because of this, we have extensive knowledge in creating the ultimate family road trip playlist.


Music is life. And thanks to streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, we’re able to curate playlists that lend themselves to life on the road. We personally use Amazon Music – we find it the most user-friendly across a variety of platforms. We’ve used Price Music for years but recently we completed a free trial of Amazon Music Unlimited and loved it so much that we will continue to pay $7.99/month for the service.

Before I get into some specific song choices, I’d like to share the one rule regarding music on road trips to which we adhere – the driver veto. Whoever is driving on the road trip (which let’s be honest, is Clay 75% of the time), get’s the right to veto any song he or she wishes. It is just one of the many privileges that accompanies driving. Other than that, everything is fair game. So how do you make a spectacular road trip playlist that transcends the vast and various landscapes of our magnificent country? Easy – choose music you like, music that won’t make you fall asleep (e.g. we rarely listen to Bon Iver in the car), and music that is easy to sing along too.

If you’re like us and have little ones in the car, then you probably try to limit the explicit lyrics. But we certainly do not send ourselves to a Raffi and Laurie Berkner purgatory. Quite the opposite – we have no problem exposing our kids to great music. We also have no issue introducing them to the magic of guilty pleasure songs and the joy of singing along with one-hit-wonders. Below is just a sampling of songs we’ve included on our Ultimate Family Road Trip Playlist – I’ve broken them down by decade but there is no sense of order beyond that. We always utilize the shuffle function so everything gets discombobulated anyway – which is the way it should be when listening to music in the car.







What are some of your family’s favorite songs to listen to in the car? Do you create playlists or listen to full albums? Is there any song in particular that reminds you of a road trip?

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