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Twenty Great Songs About Travel

Updated on June 3, 2020
Chad Claeyssen profile image

Chad is an avid traveler who loves to share his tips and experiences to help others get the most out of their travels.

A list of twenty great songs with travel as the subject. To me nothing goes together better than travel and music. Every road trip needs a soundtrack. These songs are listed in no particular order. In most cases I list the artist as the person who made the song known to me. I do credit the original writers and performers though. The release year is also included in the listing.

Highway near the Colorado and New Mexico border.
Highway near the Colorado and New Mexico border.

California - Joni Mitchel - 1971

"I met a redneck on a Grecian Isle. He did the goat dance very well. He gave me back my smile, but kept my camera to sell". Just watched this video, so it was the first song that came to mind. Her line about Paris being old and cold and gray, takes me back to coming out of the airport there on a windy, rainy, cold, March morning.

America - Simon and Garfunkel, 1968

"Michigan seems like a dream to me now, it took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw". Ever since I've seen the movie Almost Famous, this song reminds me of the scene when William's older sister is leaving home to travel.

Changes in Latitude - Jimmy Buffet - 1977

"Reading departure signs in some big airport reminds me of the places I've been". Who hasn't looked up at an airport departure sign and had their thoughts drift to the destinations displayed, memories you've had there, or places you dream of going?

Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show - 2004

"Thumbin' my way into North Carolina". Sketched by Bob Dylan and finished by Old Crow Medicine Show, this song has everything a travel song needs, hitchhiking, poker, big-rigs, and a girl he needs to get to.

4. Truckin' - Grateful Dead - 1970

"What a long strange trip it's been". This song highlights the highs and lows of traveling that many who've spent a little time on the road can identify with. Originally, a verse was supposed to be added describing each tour they took. They toured for more then thirty years and played more then 2,400 shows. That would be a long song at this point.

Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin - 1971

"From the Kentucky coal mines, to the California sun". It was first sung by Roger Miller in 1969 and written by Chris Kristofferson. It was made famous by Janis Joplin. Janis died before it hit number one on the charts in 1971.

Tangled Up in Blue - Bob Dylan - 1975

"So I drifted down to New Orleans". Another song containing the ingredients for a great road song, drifting and a girl.

Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills, and Nash - 1982

"We've got eighty feet of the waterline nicely makin' way" - A song about a man who sails around the world after a love affair gone bad. I can't help but think of the sun and ocean breeze when I hear that line. The lyric about seeing the Southern Cross (a constellation easily seen from the southern hemisphere) for the first time always makes me daydream about lying on my back on the deck of a sailboat looking at the stars.

I've Been Everywhere - Johnny Cash - 1996

"I've been everywhere man". Written by Geoff Mack and sung by Lucky Star in 1959, but I know it by Johnny Cash. What can I say, In the Johnny Cash version, this song names just about every city in the US. In the songs original version, all the place names were Australian.

Promised Land - Grateful Dead - 1971

"The pilot told us in thirteen minutes he would set us at the terminal gate". Originally by Chuck Berry in 1964, I first heard it performed by the Grateful Dead.

Blue Sky - Allman Brothers - 1972

"I'm goin' to Carolina. It won't be long and I'll be there". - One of my favorite songs to have playing while driving down the road on a beautiful day.

California Sun - Ramones - 1979

"Well, I'm going out west where I belong. Where the days are short and the nights are long". This song always makes me want to hop and a plane to California and hit the beach, especially in the winter. I know it by the Ramones. It was originally performed by Joe Jones, an American blues singer.

Island in the Sun - Weezer - 2001

"On an island in the sun. We’ll be playing and having fun". A song with simple lyrics about going to an island and getting away from it all. Bahamas here I come!

When I Paint My Masterpiece - Bob Dylan - 1971

"I left Rome and landed in Brussels on a plane ride so bumpy that I almost cried". This song isn't the happy-go-lucky travel song like many of the songs on this list, but it is filled with positivity for the future. Dylan weaves many worldwide destinations into his signature poetry of When I Paint My Masterpiece.

So Many Roads - Grateful Dead - 19??

"New York to San Francisco, So many roads I know. All I want is one to take me home". This one is more of a ballad than a road Trip song. A traveler sings about the power of the road to ease the tormented soul.

Marrakesh Express - Crosby, Stills, and Nash - 1969

Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes, Travelling the train through clear Moroccan skies". This song was written by Graham Nash about a train ride he took during a Moroccan vacation in 1966. It was performed by Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Lincoln Highway Dub - Sublime - 1994

"There isn't a thing in here that wasn't one time or another
Used on the Lincoln Highway". I just had to add this since I lived a couple hundred yards from the Lincoln Highway in Lancaster, PA for five or six years.

City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie - 1971

"Nighttime on The City of New Orleans, changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee". Another song about a train ride. City of New Orleans was written by Steve Goodman about a train ride he took on the Illinois Central Railroad.

"The City of New Orleans" train at Kankakee, Illinois in 1964. Subject of Arlo Guthrie's song of the same name.
"The City of New Orleans" train at Kankakee, Illinois in 1964. Subject of Arlo Guthrie's song of the same name. | Source

Runnin' Down a Dream - Tom Petty - 1989

"I felt so good, like anything was possible, hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes". A great upbeat road trip song with plenty of mentions about driving, feeling good, and positivity about what's to come.

Midnight Rider - Allman Brothers - 1970

"I don't own the clothes I'm wearing and the road goes on forever". No travel song list would be complete without a song about running from something. This Allman Brothers song fits the bill perfectly.

What's Your Go-To Road Trip Track?

I'm sure I missed a lot of good ones, especially newer stuff and songs in genres that I rarely listen to like country and western. What's the best travel song I missed? What's your go-to road trip track? Let me know in the comments.


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