The best way to enhance any road trip is by creating a rockin’ soundtrack for the adventure. Whether you’re cruising the California coast, riding top down along a desert highway or zooming past the big city lights, a proper playlist will take your trip to the next level.
If you’re a road trip newbie, you might feel a sense of independence by cranking up Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”. For gypsies on their first coast to coast journey, I recommend the more subdued “Melissa” by the Allman Brothers.
But…what the heck do you listen to if you’re a seasoned RVer traveling full time? Fear not – I’ve curated a mixtape for you, the mature traveller!
These songs have a sense of wanderlust without the urgency of roadtrippin’. They’re thoughtful, patient and inspiring. They have also shaped many of my own #RVLife experiences. The songs are ordered for maximum pleasure ?
Let’s get this virtual vinyl spinning!
1. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by Talking Heads
It’s super important to have an opening song that sets the mood. Aside from being one of the best songs ever, David Byrne sums up RV Living in one line – “Home is where I want to be / I guess I’m already there.”
2. Gypsy in Me by Bonnie Raitt
Despite it’s trite title, this travel tune packs a big punch. Raitt’s raspy voice mixed with the imagery of nomad life will surely inspire your next 10 miles of asphalt. Here’s the line that resonates with me, “I got the wanderlust / It’s somewhere else or bust”.
3. Is It Like Today by Eliza Gilkyson
Things are about to get weird. “Is It Like Today” isn’t about traveling across America, it’s about traveling across time. The song recollects many points throughout mankind’s history. Listening to it on a travel day creates a wonderful juxtaposition of moving through time and space!
4. The Barricades of Heaven by Jackson Browne
This song, like so many of Browne’s, is made to be listened to in the middle of the desert, long after the sun has set. His references to California highways and hearts flung into the night resonate with the desires of wanderlust. My favorite line: “I couldn’t tell you what the hell those brakes were for / I was just trying to hear my song.”
5. Unknown Legend by Neil Young
Neil Young deserves an entire travel-playlist featuring his iconic tunes…but, I understand, his voice is a little too nasally for most folks.
Unknown Legend not only inspires me to travel, it makes me want to hop on a vintage motorcycle and taste freedom! The chorus is amazing (the last line especially): “Somewhere on a desert highway she rides a Harley-Davidson / Her long blonde hair flying in the wind / She’s been running half her life / The chrome and steel she rides / Colliding with the very air she breathes”
6. Song For Zula by Phosphorescent
We’re onto side two of this virtual vinyl, and I’m assuming you’re getting into that driving “zone”. Song For Zulu is perfect for easing into the second half of your journey. Set to a hypnotizing beat, mellow vocals sing of desert plains, soil and sand.
7. Wildfire by Mandolin Orange
This is a classic storytelling tune and, from our experience, travelers love stories. Sit back and enjoy.
8. Back in the World by David Gray
Every RVer should immediately listen to this song on their first mile of nomad life. Here’s the opening lines of the song, “Every day when I open my eyes now it feels like a Saturday / Taking down from the shelf all the parts of myself that I packed away…Like the lift of a curse, got a whole different person inside my head / No more trudging around, stony eyed through the town like the living dead.”
9. You Must Go by John Hiatt
As we applaud the transition to RV life in the previous song, track #9 reminds us that the calling to be a nomad is deep within our bones. It’s a calling to be celebrated, but also respected. We must go – through the beautiful and the unknown – we must go!
10. West by Lucinda Williams
“Come out west and see,” Williams sings as this causal waltz drifts through the speakers.
Her lyrics perfectly sum up the nomad in me and leave the listener subtly inspired to wander in love. She sings, “I sleep out in the desert / Under the stars above / And keep making an effort / To wander in love.”
Ready to start listening?
Kyle travels the country with his wife, Olivia, and their dog, River. Along with being bloggers, they’re full time RVers, video creators and music producers. 2018 marks their third year of RV Life.