This past weekend I took a six-ish van ride to Merida, Venezuela (from my home base of Ciudad Ojeda) and I remembered how seriously good it feels to put your iPod on shuffle and just let the right music fuel your journey. This is one of the zillion reasons that I love road trips so much. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite road trip songs (and some of the songs that fuel me).
1. Boston – Augustana
Best Travel Lyric: I think I’ll go to Boston; I think that I’m just tired; I think I need a new town to leave this all behind. I think I need a sunrise, I’m tired of the sunset.
Why I Love It: It’s my sister song for my big sister, Becky. I also just really love it because I listen to it every time I take the bus to Boston, which is where I always fly out of. It’s my home airport, in many ways (sorry Portland!) and it’s the place that I associate the most with leaving.
2. The Great Escape – Boys Like Girls
Best Travel Lyric: Throw it away, forget yesterday, we’ll make the great escape. We won’t hear a word they say, they don’t know us anyway.
Why I Love It: For me, it perfectly captures the feeling right before you leave. That feeling where you’re not quite saying goodbye, but soaking up every last second with the people that you adore. It also perfectly captures that “I’m such a badass” attitude that I feel right before I leave.
3. Five Minutes to Midnight – Boys Like Girls
Best Travel Lyric: We could pack up and leave all our things behind; no fact or fiction or storyline.
Why I Love It: This is part of why we all travel, to write our own story. Plus, everyone loves a good, impulsive, on-the-road romance.
4. Long Time Gone – Dixie Chicks
Best Travel Lyric: She said she could hear me singing in the choir; me I heard another song. I caught wind and hit the road running and lord I’ve been a long time gone.
Why I Love It: Leaving where my whole family is was a really big decision for me — and I often feel like that makes me the black sheep. Most of my friends are 20 minutes from their family; I’m 2,300 miles away from all of mine. This song gets me on that level.
5. The Long Way Around – Dixie Chicks
Best Travel Lyric: I hit the highway in a pink RV with stars on the ceiling, lived like a gypsy, six strong hands on the steering wheel. I’ve been a long time gone now, maybe someday, someday I’m going to settle down, but I’ve always found my way somehow, by taking the long way around.
Why I Love It: This speaks to my black-sheep-y-ness yet again. Plus, there’s no longer way around than I could imagine from a conventional U.S. life than an unconventional Venezuelan one.
6. Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
Best Travel Lyric: Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about; who’s never left home, who’s never struck out to find a dream and a life of their own; a place in the clouds, a foundation of stone.
Why I Love It: I need room to make my big mistakes, which this song completely understands about me. Plus, we all have dreams–this song reminds me of that and how it’s completely normal (even if family-wise, I feel like it’s totally abnormal).
7. Dust – Eli Young Band
Best Travel Lyric: There’s a future that’s bright in the dead of this night and all she’s got to do is go.
Why I Love It: This song is exactly how I felt before I left my Maine world to come to my Venezuelan world. I was, in fact, sick of the town that I had loved so intensely for so long, sick of the boy that I wanted to be with but who clearly either didn’t want to be with me or just couldn’t, and sick of my job. This is my leaving song, and I listen to it loudly every time I leave.
8. Helluva Life – Frankie Ballard
Best Travel Lyric: We all have faith and we all have hope and we’re all a little lost in the same damn boat.
Why I Love It: “It’s a helluva life” is the exact feeling that I get when I’m traveling and my life is so surreal. This is how I felt while I was looking at Niagra falls this summer; how I felt when I first landed in Venezuela; how I felt when I realized that I was celebrating Carnival in South America for the first time; how I feel every time I watch U.S. football in Spanish; and just how I feel about my life in general most of the time. Plus, those of us who specialize in running away from our problems and running toward the unknown like to feel like we’re not the only lost ones.
9. Carrying Your Love With Me – George Straight
Best Travel Lyric: Don’t you worry ’bout the way I pack, all I care about is getting back real soon.
Why I Love It: As much as I needed to leave, I also feel like being far away has brought me emotionally closer with most of my family. I’m always carrying them around with me, and I wouldn’t be me without any of them.
10. Holiday from Real – Jack’s Mannequin
Best Travel Lyric: But if you left it up to me, every day would be a holiday from real. We’d waste our weeks beneath the sun, fry our brains and say it’s so much fun and when it’s all over, I’d come back for another year.
Why I Love It: This was the song from my original road trip–the one that started all of this. Not only do I associate it with my decision to become a traveller, but also it’s the song that I listen to on repeat when I need a break from my real life and the song that I plan all of my travels to. Also, so much of traveling feels like a holiday from real.
11. Heads Carolina, Tails California – Jo Dee Messina
Best Travel Lyric: We can go four hundred miles before we stop for gas; drive for a day and then we’ll take a look at the map.
Why I Love It: Part of the joy of traveling is the serendipity of it all; those places that you love and only saw just because you happened to take a left turn instead of a right. This song never ceases to remind me of the serendipity required to make travel fun.
12. Who Says – John Mayer
Best Travel Lyric: Who says I can’t be free from all of the things I used to be? Re-write my history; who says I can’t be free?
Why I Love It: Travel obviously has pros and cons, but one of the major pros is being who you are in this moment wherever you may be. As someone who grew up in a 2,000 person town, everyone from my home knows everything about me (which is incredible and which is why I will never truly be home anywhere else) but sometimes it is nice to not have known everyone and their brother for the past 20 years (and to not have them remember your awkward phases from third grade through high school).
13. Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me – Keith Urban
Best Travel Lyric: The sun is shining, and this road keeps winding through the prettiest country from Georgia to Tennessee. I’ve got the one I love beside me, my troubles behind me, I’m alive and I’m free–who wouldn’t wanna be me?
Why I Love It: Although I’ve not enjoyed the backpacker life at all so far (although I will be experiencing it kind of this summer and more on a trip that I’m planning for the unspecified future), this is how I imagine it feels to be on a good backpacker day. Also, the lyric that I chose is how my good road tripping moments can best be described.
14. Ain’t Back Yet – Kenny Chesney
Best Travel Lyric: Looking back at the moments, black and white, I wouldn’t change a thing that would change my life for the worse, for the better, man I was gone, gone forever.
Why I Love It: When I travel, I often wonder how I seriously happened to arrive where I’m at. It’s important for me to remember that every decision I’ve ever made has brought me here, to this moment, to this place, to this joy.
15. Wild Child – Kenny Chesney
Best Travel Lyric: She’ll be here until she runs, some just have to chase the sun.
Why I Love It: I actually used to really dislike this song. I have since fully changed my mind and embraced it as one of my favorite songs ever, let alone one of my favorite travel songs ever. This is a song that I identify with me. Although I don’t think that I’m really a rebel, I do have the constant itch to move around these days. I don’t know if I’ll ever tackle traveling as my profession, but I am more and more enamored with the notion of taking a gap year or round-the-world trip, so that may be on the docket for future Lauren.
16. Outta Here – Kenny Chesney
Best Travel Lyric: Let’s leave town on a permanent vacation, lock up the house, pack up the station wagon, make paradise our final destination, as long as we’re outta here.
Why I Love It: This song gets middle-of-Maine-winter me. It also gets being-a-grown-up-is-hard me, when I just want to take off and live in paradise forever with no problems (obviously this isn’t realistic, but a girl is allowed to daydream).
17. Take the Keys – Leah Turner
Best Travel Lyric: There’s a getaway car in the driveway parked, let’s hit the road and let the engine spark.
Why I Love It: This is the perfect significant-others-running-away-together song. I also love the way that this song reminds me how it doesn’t really matter where you go sometimes–sometimes all that matters is that you go.
18. One Way Ticket (Because I Can) – LeAnn Rimes
Best Travel Lyric: Freedom was waiting down at the station, all I had to do was make up my mind.
Why I Love It: Ahhhh, vintange LeAnn Rimes. This song gets me because it’s exactly how I felt when I left for Venezuela. Coming here was starting over for me, even though I didn’t have a one-way ticket (I had a round trip for three weeks, actually, since my big sister was getting married). This song reminds me that a girl can do what she wants to do on her own and that she can recover from everything.
Note: All of the lyrics to this song are great for travel.
19. Pimpin’ All Over the World – Ludacris and Bobby Valentino
Best Travel Lyric: It’s only right that I share my experiences with y’all because I’ve been places you could never imagine.
Why I Love It: Some serious switching it up with Luda, but this song makes my “Going” playlist for two reasons–first, because it makes me laugh and smile and dance every single time and second, because it’s all about living that jet-setting life, which is something that I really enjoy doing. I also love this song because it reminds me of my tiny taste of the luxurious life (and how the other half live) when Simone and I were in Vegas and when I pretend to be a big spender in Venezuela at fancy hotels.
20. Wasted Youth – Meatloaf
Best Travel Lyric: A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age.
Why I Love It: So many people who travel don’t want to live your “typical” life. I do. I want to have a career, and a house, and a dog (or two), and 3 kids, and the love of my life in one place. Sometimes, I freak out because that’s the end-game dream and I feel like I’m spending so much of my time not working towards that by traveling and living abroad but this song helps me remember that this experience is everything that I want right now and that I have plenty of time to do it all.
21. She Couldn’t Change Me – Montgomery Gentry
Best Travel Lyric: She was sitting beside the ocean, looking out at the waves, watching how they keep on rolling, but always seem the same.
Why I Love It: This song is an unconventional choice, but I love it because it reminds me that sometimes you have to go in order to be able to come back. To be very cheesy, it reminds me that you often have to leave to find yourself. It’s about a break-up, but it’s also about remember what is most important, and that, ultimately, people are home more than anything else. I also like that it makes me think about the Pacific Ocean, which for some reason, is my ocean of choice thus far.
22. Speed – Montgomery Gentry
Best Travel Lyric: Throw me them keys so I can put some miles between us.
Why I Love It: Another Montgomery Gentry song about a break-up clocks in on my “Going” playlist. What can I say, I do love 1990’s-early 2000’s country music. This song speaks to me because I love driving, and I particularly love driving fast. This song makes me think of the one time that I drove 100 miles per hour on Route 66, or the other time that I topped 100 miles of hour in the middle of the Arizona desert — two of my favorite memories from “The Trip That Started It All”.
23. What I Got – Sublime
Best Travel Lyric: Early in the morning, rising to the street, light me up that cigarette and I strap shoes on my feet.
Why I Love It: I love how casual this song is, and how much it embodies the carefree side of travel. Although obviously not all travel is carefree, I love just how relaxed and at ease this song is and how it makes me feel when I’m on the road.
24. Drops of Jupiter – Train
Best Travel Lyric: And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star? One without a permanent scar? And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?
Why I Love It: This is possibly my all-time favorite song ever. It’s my go-to in so many situations; when I’m missing my best friends, when I’m feeling reflective, when I’m looking for myself out in this wide and wild world.
25. Save Me, San Francisco – Train
Best Travel Lyric: It’s a wild, wide, beautiful world but there’s a wide-eyed girl back there and she means everything, everything.
Why I Love It: This song is most closely associated with my BFF, Simone and the infamous California trip. I love this song partly because it reminds me of that, and because he’s on his own little road trip. I also like that in the song, he’s all over the place–that’s mostly how I feel when I’m exploring. Plus, for the person (and the life) that we’ve all left behind at home, it’s particularly apt.
26. Highway 20 Ride – Zac Brown Band
Best Travel Lyric: Every time I turn that truck around, right at the Georgia line, and I count the days and the miles back home to you.
Why I Love It: I love my life, but I also love my people who are so far away from me. I’m loving being here, but I’m also counting the days and the miles back home to them constantly.
27. Colder Weather – Zac Brown Band
Best Travel Lyric: You’re a ramblin’ man, you ain’t ever gonna change, you’ve got a gypsy’s soul to blame, and you were born for leaving.
Why I Love It: Another country break-up song! Maybe that’s because, in some ways, I feel like I broke up with my old life when I left (even though we get back together regularly?)? Maybe it’s because I’m going to be doing this leaving thing for the foreseeable future? Maybe I was born for leaving? I’m not really sure, but either way it’s perfect for a dramatic, melancholy exit.
What’s your favorite traveling song?