Tips for Crafting the Perfect Road Trip Playlist

Good music has the ability to transform our mood and lift our spirits. That's why there's nothing better than speeding down the highway with a favorite song blasting from the speakers. It makes you feel alive and ready to take on whatever the road offers. If you have an upcoming road trip (we've got a few suggestions), you'll definitely need an awesome playlist to keep you going. The only downside? It can take some effort. So here are five helpful tips to help you create the perfect road trip playlist.


Pick a Vibe

A pink, blue, and green neon sign which reads "Good Vibes Only."
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When choosing music for your playlist, consider the atmosphere you want to create. Is this a calm, relaxing drive or a sing-your-heart-out type of trip? Remember that it's also okay to mix things up. You might want to start out with soothing piano melody in the morning and transition to an upbeat disco jam to keep you awake during the afternoon.

Depending on how long your drive will be, you might have more time to play around with the theme. If it's a shorter trip, then try to keep things cohesive. For longer drives, you're more likely to get bored with one type of music, so there's room to play around. An overarching theme in the lyrics can keep different genres connected if you like variety.

Themes can be based off an experience you've had, the destination you're headed to, or the landscape you'll be traveling through. Play around and have fun with it. Some examples would be country music while driving through Tennessee or 90's grunge on the way to Seattle. There's no right or wrong way to pick a vibe, as long as you're happy with it.


Try New Music

Black headphones in focus
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A road trip is the perfect time to discover new music. Start early so that you can listen to new stations or song lists. When a track piques your interest or fits in perfectly with the theme, add it to the list. Local radio, Pandora, and Spotify are all great sources for finding new music. If this is a longer road trip, you're going to get sick of the same album or artist. You'll appreciate the variety that new music offers.

Once you've picked a few songs, listen to it beforehand so you get an idea of how well the tracks sound together. Especially if you've included a lot of new music you aren't super familiar with. If you find yourself skipping over any tracks, consider deleting them. By starting early and allowing changes, you'll give yourself the opportunity to curate the perfect list.


Consider Your Audience

Crowd of people with their arms in the air at a concert
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Don't forget the other people who will be trapped in the car with you. Most people consider it tradition to allow the driver to pick the music, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be considerate of everyone else. Try not to pick anything that will outright offend or anger another rider. This could include foul language. Kids might have their own input and they'd appreciate being asked for ideas. Likewise, smaller children may not be able to handle really loud music.

A fun way to involve everyone is to split the car ride into segments and let each person make a smaller playlist. If your ride is six hours and there will be three people in the car, contact everyone ahead of time and ask them to prepare a two-hour playlist. It's a great way to make everyone feel happy and included. Plus, you just might discover your next favorite song.


Don't Chain Yourself to the Playlist

People playing jazz music
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After you put a lot of work into making a playlist, it can feel like you have to stick to it — no matter what! However, if the music just isn't vibing with the mood in the car, turn on the radio instead. You can always save your playlist to listen to another time. Another option is to alternate the music playlist with podcasts, audiobooks, or even silence. Sometimes a drive through the country is the best time to let your mind wander. Alternately with podcasts and audiobooks, you'll allow yourself the opportunity to learn something new.


Consider Technology, Apps, and Programs

Podcasts on smart phone in Apple music
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Take a moment to consider the technology you'll have available during your road trip. If you're driving your own vehicle, this might not be a big deal, but if you're driving a rental or a borrowed car, then you'll want to make sure it's equipped with the right technology to access your playlist. There's nothing worse than spending hours curating the perfect playlist to find out that the car doesn't have an iPhone plug or auxiliary input. If your music isn't downloaded or on CD, then make sure you'll have access to WiFi or data from your wireless carrier. Be sure to also bring plenty of charge cords and any other tools you might need to keep the music going.

These days, most people choose to compile their playlists on apps like Amazon Music, YouTube, and Spotify. These programs offer an easy way to access almost any music in the world. All three of these apps offer a premium service, where you can download music to listen to offline. If you're short on time and want an easy way to create a personalized playlist, try Spotify's Soundtrack Your Ride. It's already integrated with Google Maps, so just input your trip details and answer a few questions about your favorite music. Spotify will then create a personalized playlist set for the perfect time length and consider your destination and music preferences.

Of course, there's nothing more fun than creating your own list. If you have the time, definitely take advantage of this opportunity to express yourself and groove the whole way to your destination.


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