12 Best Travel Songs of All Time

With the Grammy Awards coming up this weekend, I started thinking about how much music and travel are entangled with one another.  Anyone who travels takes their favorite music along so it can become the soundtrack to the biggest experiences of their lives.  And musicians who are constantly on the road provide plenty of material for the rest of us, with travel themes portrayed prominently in music lyrics.

Long story short, I started jotting down notes about some of the best travel songs ever and I put together this list.  Enjoy and feel free to add yours to the comments section below.

Holiday Road – Lindsey Buckingham

A super catchy and fun song, “Holiday Road” was a theme song in several of the National Lampoon Vacation movies.  The lyrics are simple and pure and you can help but to hum and sing along to this hit single from Lindsey Buckingham.

Hotel California – The Eagles

When I first started this list, “Hotel California” was the one song that immediately popped into my head.  The lyrics capture the true essence of spending time in California.  You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane

A wonderful up-beat song that has me singing out loud every time I hear it.  Poetic and inspiring, this song reminds us that life is a journey made up of a lot of little journeys.  Just keep traveling down the highway!

I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash

Of all the songs on my list, this one reminds me most of my travel life.  “I’ve Been Everywhere” just might be the perfect theme song for any hard-core traveler.  Also, check out this great interactive map that shows every place mentioned in the song. Warning:  This is awesome>>  [Click Here]

Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz

This epic “I want to get away” anthem has always been on my playlist.  When you’re stuck someplace you want to leave in the rearview mirror then “Fly Away” will transport you high above the trees and over the seas in all degrees.  Lenny does a wonderful job of unleashing the free-spirit in all of us.

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – Proclaimers

For anyone who has gone on a very long hike or walk as part of their journey, “I’m Gonna Be” resonates loud and clear.  It’s also good for a very long trip where you’ve already traveled thousands of miles yet still have a few more thousand miles ahead of you until you reach your destination.  Music keeps you moving forward.

Vacation – The Go Go’s

I remember when this album came out. I loved its giddy, sunshiny sound and I think everyone agrees it’s the perfect soundtrack to any girls’ beach vacation or long weekend.  And you just have to love the album cover with the band water skiing in their tutus. Serious vacation fun!

Ramblin’ Man – Allman Brothers Band

A lot of amazing driving music has been created by the Allman Brothers and “Ramblin’ Man” is a classic wanderlust story.  You gotta love anyone who was born in the backseat of a Greyhound Bus rolling down Highway 41.

America – Simon & Garfunkel

In some ways we all go out in search of America.  This song written by Paul Simon is a beautiful musical essay about young lovers who hitchhike their way across the country.  It was based on an actual road trip he took with his girlfriend Cathy in 1964.  Lovely and inspiring.

Route 66 – Rolling Stones

This song has been recorded by a ton of famous recording artists including Chuck Berry, Perry Como and Nat King Cole.  I enjoy the Rolling Stones 1964 recording of the title with a trip that begins on Highway 40 and goes all the way along Route 66 through eight states to the coast of California.  This one belongs in the travel hall of fame.

Katmandu – Bob Seger

Bob Seger’s songs are so good at lifting you out of whatever funk you’re in, taking you to another state of mind.  In “Katmandu” I always think of going to the coolest place imaginable, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go but haven’t visited yet.  Terrific and full of energy.  An instant pick-me-up.

Running on Empty – Jackson Browne

Another one of my favorites, Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” always held a double meaning for me in my travels.  On one hand it seems I’m always running out of gas and the next fill-up station is just a bit too far down the road. I also hear this song in my head at the end of a long day when I’ve been going non-stop, the caffeine is no longer working and I’m ready to hit the wall.

More from Samantha Brown:

Nominees for Best Travel Movies Ever

Fall Music Festivals

10 Best Boardwalks for Summertime Fun

Video of the Week:  Tequila 101

Craziest Travel Stories of 2014

 

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