World Hum’s Top 40 Travel Songs of All Time

Lists: We traveled. We listened. We voted. These are the tunes that best capture the spirit of the road.

6) Born to Run (1975)

Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Songwriter: Springsteen
Fact: Decades ago, the New Jersey legislature declared “Born to Run” the state’s “Unofficial Youth Rock Anthem.”
Why it’s a great travel song: When Springsteen wrote “Born to Run” at age 24, the song was his last-ditch effort to make it big. “Born To Run” didn’t just become an anthem for the young, but with its beautiful sad lyrics of longing—for the road, for love—it became an adrenaline-packed thrill ride that still lingers decades later for free-sprits everywhere.
Why I love it: As someone who, like the song’s narrator, wanted to escape and hit the road at 20, I carried the song inside me hitchhiking on lonely highways. Back then, I was also “a scared and lonely rider” who had to “find out how it feels.” But the genius of the song is how its meaning changes as you get older. As a writer, one of my themes—maybe the theme of my life—is about the constant search for somewhere new, somewhere better. But I’ve come to realize the myth in somewhere better.

When I listen to the song now, it seems not to be about leaving, but about finding your way home. I’ve been lucky enough to see Springsteen in concert six times, and the last time, I was even luckier because I was in the front row. When he sang “Born to Run”—with the entire arena dancing and shouting the lyrics—I swear he pointed and fixed his gaze right on me for the baby-we-were-born-to-run part for a whole, I don’t know, lifetime? OK, maybe five seconds. But I swear he was saying, I’m finally home, and so are you. —Laurie Gough

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73 Comments for World Hum’s Top 40 Travel Songs of All Time

Soultravelers3 12.15.08 | 8:01 AM ET

Great list! Many of my favorites, but you missed one that I also love. I am not usually a country music or Dolly Parton fan, but this song really resonates for travelers.

Laura Byrne Paquet 12.15.08 | 8:33 AM ET

This list is a lot of fun! It was nice to be reminded of some tunes I’d forgotten.

I’m sure everyone who writes in will have one quibble regarding a forgotten song, and I’m no exception. My vote is for “Come Fly With Me” by Frank Sinatra. Best musical evocation of the dawn of the jet age, ever!

Also, your site redesign looks great.

Sean Keener 12.15.08 | 11:49 AM ET

Love this list guys.  Nice redesign as well.  Good seeing you last month Jim.  Happy Holidays.

World Travelista 12.15.08 | 12:27 PM ET

Oh my gosh, thank you SO much for this killer list of travel songs!

I’m going to create a playlist on my iPod w/ all these songs…. and then share with all of our travel clients.

Loving this…. thanks! :)

Shannon Brown 12.15.08 | 1:04 PM ET

This is a great list of songs. Whether you are backpacking with your iPod or driving across country these are some songs that get you singing along every time.

jim s. 12.15.08 | 2:29 PM ET

Not one single Chuck Berry song! I repeat, not ONE single Chuck Berry song? And in case you missed my point, NOT ONE SINGLE CHUCK BERRY SONG!!! There’s no point in discussing the omission further except maybe to throw a shoe at you!

Valerie Conners 12.15.08 | 2:54 PM ET

Hi Jim S. - he actually did make it, though way toward the end of our also rans (Back in the U.S.A., Chuck Berry)

Steve 12.15.08 | 2:59 PM ET

Several of these are already on my “roadgeek iPod”.

I do wish the songs “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Lobo, “All Roads Lead To You” by Steve Wariner, and “I’m A Drifter” by Bobby Goldsboro could’ve been included.

Lizz 12.15.08 | 3:27 PM ET

Ultimate road trip song:  “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode.  “I’m taking a ride with my best friend . . We’re flying high, we’re watching the road pass us by.”

andrea parris 12.15.08 | 4:13 PM ET

This is an amazing compilation - nice work! Each song brings me to a place and time and had me nodding in agreement. I always travel with old R.E.M. music “Can’t Get There From Here” ,“Driver 8”, (and it helps drown out the airline ‘lift’) to start my playlist but all the rest follow close suit.

IronicTraveler 12.15.08 | 6:56 PM ET

The songs are classics but wondering if there is nothing noteworthy from the 90s… or dare I say THIS millenium??

andrea parris 12.15.08 | 7:27 PM ET

I see numerous noteworthy entries from THIS millenium in the appended list, they just didn’t have majority support in accordance with the methodology. Besides, after the 1980’s, and the advent of MTV in the mid-1980’s, music lost it’s focus as a word medium and became a visual medium. Not too many car trips or travel ideas conveyed in the videos of subsequent years. Pity.

TambourineMan 12.15.08 | 9:54 PM ET

Awesome list. And kudos to song #27 voters. Toto rawks! I only wish Styx “Come Sail Away” had made the list, too. Speaking of sailing, why was that Christopher Cross gem ignored?

andrea parris 12.15.08 | 10:42 PM ET

part aldine

Marilyn Terrell 12.15.08 | 10:45 PM ET

This is a magnificent list.  Excellent choices defended by persuasive writers.  I love having the video clips and the map.  Great that “Ol’ 55” made the list.  And you just cannot argue with “On the Road Again”—it’s the ultimate road trip song.  Thanks for a great package, World Hum.  A real public service.

Michael Yessis 12.16.08 | 12:02 AM ET

Interesting thoughts on the reason for the lack of 90s/00s songs on the final list, Andrea. And I agree on this: There are worthy recent travel songs—I had Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago”  on my list. But the set up favored songs that have been around for a while and stayed relevant. Maybe we could follow up with a list of the best travel songs from the 90s/00s.

I’m also with you on “Driver 8” and “Can’t Get There From Here.” Another REM song that I considered for my list but didn’t make the cut: “Little America.”  Another Greenville, Another Magic Mart…

Just watched a vintage version:

Kevin Day 12.16.08 | 1:09 AM ET

I think this list is actually pretty weak and narrow in its focus. It reads like a playlist on any classic rock radio station in the U.S. World Hum has always had a great global focus, and that’s why I keep coming back to it. But nothing from Cuba? Nothing from Mexico? Nothing from Africa? Nothing from the Middle East? Maybe one would simply lump these styles under “world music” but then we get into a debate on the trickiness of genres. But honestly, nothing makes me want to travel more than music detached from my culture. When I hear Eliades Ochoa or Gecko Turner, I’m ready to pack a suitcase and get out of here.

Zach 12.16.08 | 1:12 AM ET

Props for including “Thunder Road.” While it’s one of my favorite Bruce songs (and I’m a huge fan), i prefer “No Surrender when on the road, especially driving down open highway in my stripped-down Wrangler:

Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim
The walls of my room are closing in
There’s a war outside still raging
You say it ain’t ours anymore to win
I want to sleep beneath
Peaceful skies in my lover’s bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

Once we made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender

Eli 12.16.08 | 1:41 AM ET

Laura, I believe (not sure) I cast the sole vote for “Come Fly With Me” (see runner-up list). Check out the cool interactive map. They pinpointed the “bar in far Bombay line.” Nice. And for the swingin-est Fly With Me, give Sinatra at the Sands a spin sometime.

Jim S, couldn’t agree more about Chuck Berry. Promised Land should’ve duck-walked all over Ka-ka-ka-katmandu.

Worldhum, I think you should enlist more voters and do a top 100. Some very nice selections in the runner-up list.

Jim Benning 12.16.08 | 2:35 AM ET

Kevin, you make a great point about—for lack of a better term—world music. I think the sheer diversity of it makes agreeing on any list of great songs with input from a big group of people challenging.

Listening to mariachi or Cuban son or Congolese rumba stokes my wanderlust as much as my favorite travel rock songs.

Rest assured we’ll continue to cover world music at World Hum. It’s a great part of travel—and armchair travel.

Gary Knowles 12.16.08 | 3:03 PM ET

Hats off! What a wonderful list.
Of course lots of people will have other songs they’ve heard over the years
that have burned into their brains and forever become as important to a good run as gas.
Many of these are already on my traveling list but I’d add a few:
“Cadillac Ranch” by the Boss (or a good version by the Nity Gritty Dirt Band)
“LA Freeway” - the Jerry Jeff Walker version
“Under the Boardwalk” (the Melancamp version is fabulous)
“Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffet
“Wild Night” by Van Morrison or Melancamp
“Girl from the Northy Country” by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash
“Going Down to Laural” by Steve Forbert
“Don’t Fence Me In” - several good versions, I like Bing Crosby
“Changes in Latitudes…” Jimmy Buffet
“Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me” - Fred Neal

Three songs by Waren Nelson of Big Top Chautauqua (Tent Show Radio at
that could become classic road songs are
“Yo Ho Buffalo,” “Going to Arizona” and
“Little Missouri”

And in the notes to “This Land is Your Land” - be sure to get the version
that includes the
verse too often left out:
“As I was walkin’  -  I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin’
But on the other side .... it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!”

Roll on…and happy trails!

Catherine Ward 12.16.08 | 7:54 PM ET

I LOVE the list and appreciate the effort put into it!  While I noticed one Chili Pepper’s song, the most glaring of their travel songs and my all-time favorite “Around the World” should have been a shoe in!  It didn’t even make it onto the list of ‘also rans’,  what gives?

Alister 12.16.08 | 8:47 PM ET

Are you kidding? A list of 40 largely schmaltzy American songs about American schmaltz. What’s the rest of the planet’s population expected to listen to on the road when we opt to avoid your inward-looking country? This list reads like a digital security blanket for frightened Americans who can’t find a burger in Paris. The most it offers is a small pointer to World Hum’s credibility.

Eva 12.16.08 | 9:17 PM ET

I don’t know if I’m more impressed by how much we all managed to agree on for the final list or how eclectic the also-rans are!

The only thing that shocked me is Radar Love at #33 - I thought it was a shoo-in for top 5. Somehow, that song ALWAYS comes on the radio when I need a little shot of energy during a long, late-night drive…

Michael 12.16.08 | 10:14 PM ET

I’d like to suggest Moonlight Mile by the Rolling Stones for those of you so inclined.

To the critics…yes this list is limited.  So what?  It’s a starting point and a playlist, not an encyclopaedia.

I was thrilled to be reminded of Arlo’s City of New Orleans.

Laura Byrne Paquet 12.17.08 | 8:42 AM ET

Eli, glad to hear that there’s one other fan of old jazz standards on the list! I’ll check out Sinatra at the Sands.

Emily 12.17.08 | 5:19 PM ET

Hundreds of songs and no Pink Floyd? How about “Wish You Were Here” - sure, it’s about a journey into madness, but the sentiment is right on.  Also, for those who wish there was more stuff from the ‘90’s, check out Cowboy Junkies’ “200 More Miles” off their all-around excellent “The Trinity Session” (1988 release, but we were listening to this stuff all through the ‘90’s).  What could be more appropriate than these (admittedly sad) lyrics:  “I’ve got 200 more miles of rain asphalt in line / before I sleep / But there’ll be no warm sheets or welcoming arms / to fall into tonight.”

aida 12.18.08 | 1:38 AM ET

We’ll try from time to time to upload songs with run-move-climb-explore-adventure-travel feeling on our webpage in our corner for nomadic ear. This week we had ‘Run’ by Pharao’s Daughter. My contribution to this list would be same as Laura’s (Frank Sinatra) and this one:

Tom 12.18.08 | 7:26 PM ET

OK, I need to start hoarding these songs and creating my own road mix.

Tremendous and comprehensive list, but some consideration should be given to Joe Ely’s “All Just To Get to You” (Joe Ely and Will Sexton) and “Gallo Del Cielo” (Tom Russell), Pat Green’s “Carry On” (Pat Green, Walt Wilkins) and Los Lobos’ “The Road To Gila Bend” (Hidalgo/Pérez). Based on personal experience, all these songs are liable to induce leadfoot syndrome while on the road.

Jean 12.19.08 | 2:21 AM ET

Great list! I like the reasons for “Why I love it”.

Also, it’s a very impressive picture of monks in Siem Reap. Always like that kind of contradictory feeling.
local guides, local wisdom

Mike G 12.19.08 | 7:39 PM ET

Great list, but one garing omission: No “Roll Me Away” by Seger?  That is unacceptable.  it’s a great song and deserves a spot on this list for many reasons, not the least of which is “I could go east, I could go west; it was all up to me to decide”

Either way, awesome list!  I think I have some new songs I may need to download.

Ben B. 12.19.08 | 9:48 PM ET

Cool list, but pretty rock heavy (Willie and a few others not notwithstanding).  Alt country has so many great candidates. Robert Earl Keen’s “Road Goes on Forever” absolutely must get a mention, despite the fact that Southern frat boys have tried to claim it as their own.  Also, Keen’s remake of “Snowing on Raton”—or even the original Townes Van Zandt version.  And on the theme of coming home, there are few songs as good as Keen’s “Feelin’ Good Again.” 

And then there’s Son Volt’s “Windfall” (May the wind takes your troubles away…).  I could go on and on.  Great idea, though.


Queen of the Road 12.21.08 | 9:13 PM ET

I am, of course, particularly gratified you included King of the Road.

Queen of the Road 12.21.08 | 9:16 PM ET

I am, of course, extremely gratified you included King of the Road.

Sophie 12.22.08 | 1:25 AM ET

It’s fabulous that you included “America.”  While teaching English to high school students at a summer camp in rural Poland last summer I used the song as a listening exercise as well as to teach them some of the finer points of geography and classic music.  The song became my anthem for the trip because, as it was mentioned in the description, it seems to cover all aspects of life. 

Also I think “Just Like Honey” by the Jesus and Mary Chain should be included.  “Listen to that girl, as she takes on half the world…” I believe it’s from “Lost in Translation.”

andrea parris 12.22.08 | 1:32 PM ET

Thanks Michelle, for that great vintage R.E.M. clip of Little America! I saw that tour, and was backstage in SC - it was great fun for me to see the band as I remember it best. But as everything evolves, including me, it’s as nice to go forward as it is to go back. My trip to Bali and great conversations with the Balinese, embracing the Hindu outlook,  brought me to accept both, as does Grateful Dead: TheWheel “every time the wheel goes around, bound to cover just a little more ground”.

Nicole Stier 12.22.08 | 5:05 PM ET

Ok this is a great list of some classics, and maybe I clicked through too quickly, but my all time favorite travel song was no where to be seen: KOKOMO.

“There’s a place called Kokomo, that’s where you wanna go to get away from it all. Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand, we’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band”. 

If that doesn’t make you want to hop on a plane and head south I don’t know what will. I also agree with Laura, that Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me would be a great addition to the mix. Overall though, great compilation.

malia 12.29.08 | 2:25 PM ET

i may be partial to this one because i grew up in hawaii, but “honolulu city lights” by keola beamer is my favorite travel song of all time. any time i get on a plane, the chorus goes through my head… =)

Miss Grimke 01.09.09 | 5:07 PM ET

How about more from the current millenium? “Home With Me” by Chumbawamba set you afloat on the breeze with “San Christobal on New Year’s Day, Sunny beach, L.A., Blue and coral Kirkstall skies,Timorese sunrise,Fairfield Horseshoe in the snow, Clashing worlds in Tokyo, All the bars in County Cork, Heavy rain, New York—I sailed the seven seas, Carved my love on trees,I brought the whole world home with me…”

Directory 01.14.09 | 7:30 AM ET

Oh my God you guys included my fav!! The Long and Winding Road… Awsome!!! Thumbs for this list!

will 01.14.09 | 10:52 PM ET

Big, big Tom Petty fan here.  So glad he made the list…and with a non-travel related song to boot.

My fave road-related song has to be Bob Seger’s “On the road again”  though.  Already called out as an omission by others, so I won’t belabor the point. 

Epic post this one, seems it’s grabbing attention from all over, haven’t seen this much passion in blog comments for some time.  Nice job.

Money Saving Tips

Tom 01.21.09 | 6:45 AM ET

Guys, this is one great list. I found so many songs there that I like. I cannot believe it. Thanks


Jay Wo 01.22.09 | 3:35 PM ET

Not a single mention of the ultimate travel song ‘99 bottles of beer on the wall”. I suppose you were limited to songs on YouTube.

Michael J. Ryan 01.24.09 | 6:00 AM ET

There are quite a few I’m not familiar with, but my favorites from the list are: “Where the streets have no name” - Bruce Springsteen; “Take me home, country roads” & “Leaving on a jet plane” (always makes me cry!) - John Denver; “Africa” - Toto; “Born to be wild” - Steppenwolf, and I want to add one of my favorite ones - “Free Falling” by Tom Petty. The words have nothing to do with travel, but the “free falling” chorus is a road trip winner that hits the spot every time.

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Max 01.24.09 | 1:44 PM ET

I am European but I drove several thousand miles along the Amarican roads for leisure (28 travels in all 50 States from 1976 to 1999), I spent much of the time listening to the radio, but I used to carry with me a cassette with a song that was always my favorite soundrack: “White Line"performed by John Starling and the Seldom Scene. Please listen this song at lest once in your life while driving !

Josh Mione 01.24.09 | 5:25 PM ET

Good List.  I’d venture a guess the average voting age is older then I am.  A lot of my favorites were the ones also mentioned but not top 40.

Bryan Davis 01.25.09 | 7:44 PM ET

I may have missed it, but was The Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’,” of the legendary “what a long strange trip it’s been” climax, somehow omitted?  While I agree with Michael and Andrea about a desire for some more recent songs getting some love, I really enjoyed your list.  It has inspired me to make my own list of “Top 40 Contemporary Travel Songs”!

Michael Yessis 01.25.09 | 8:22 PM ET

Truckin’ landed at #28, Bryan.

If you make your own list of contemporary travel songs, Bryan, please post a link here so we can check it out.

Travel America 03.10.10 | 6:44 AM ET

It is great list of song for travel. I love the songs while I am on my travel tour. Songs always inspires you to get motivated.

Gary Knowles 03.10.10 | 12:32 PM ET

There’s another I’d like to add -  it really evokes feelings of travel in the 50s -
when going “abroad” seemed exotic…
before everyone was hopping planes all over the world

“You Belong to Me” as sung by Carla Bruni on the Album
“Comme Si De Rien N’ Etait

Not sure who wrote it…but I love the feeling that the world was more mysterious and enchanted…
and travel really was an adventure, not an ordeal
“Fly the ocean in a silver plane,
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain,
Just remember baby
‘til you’re home again,
you belong to me…”

Ian McMurray 03.10.10 | 12:56 PM ET

My God!

How old are you voters?

Gary Knowles 03.10.10 | 1:05 PM ET

Didn’t see any age limit here Ian.
I think the title of the list is
Top Travel Songs “Of All Time”

Add to the list and maybe we’ll all enjoy.

William 03.27.10 | 9:56 AM ET


Totally essential, and you’re guaranteed to hear it traveling anywhere near Mexico, Florida, or the Caribbean.  Just can’t leave Mr Buffet off this list…
Interline Travel

Larry 04.29.10 | 1:04 PM ET

My top travel song is “Roll me Away” by Bob Seger.

the rambin'man 05.04.10 | 9:48 PM ET

I am only seventeen, but I guess I was just born old.  Ramblin’ Man by Allman Brothers has to be the all time best travel song of all time.  It is the theme of my travel website of less traveled, but terrific highways, byways and dirt road adventures.  I hate a lot of the music on the boards today…has no lyrics, no heart and no soul.  I invite you to become a member of my site at

RS 05.20.10 | 3:21 PM ET

Anyone remember that name of the pop song about Columbus sailing the seven seas?

I did not see it on this list.

Century House 06.02.10 | 5:41 PM ET

Plain White T’s “Let Me Take You There” reminds us of Nantucket!

Skot Nelson 06.13.10 | 11:42 AM ET

It’s a fine list, there’s nothing *wrong* with it but you’re missing two very very important pieces of music.

Neko Case’s In California. Sorry Joni…you used to head up my California playlist—the one I put in my headphones every time I head down there by car or motorcycle—but Neko kills it.

Dan Manga’s Road Regrets. This is the ultimate road trip song.

You can thank me later.

Tourism Center 06.25.10 | 12:58 PM ET

Nice songs!!!!!!!!!!!
I love it.
I had never seen it ever.
So this is really a gr8 experience for me.
Thanks for this blog!!!!!!!!!
I prefer my friend to read this blog and enjoy this song.


Ayırma büyüsü 07.17.10 | 4:50 AM ET

Plain White T’s “Let Me Take You There” reminds us of Nantucket!

CANTU32Melisa 07.19.10 | 10:32 AM ET

Make your life more easy get the loan and everything you want.

Esme 07.24.10 | 5:57 AM ET

Up on my Ipod….!

Hotel California- By the Eagles
Jai Ho- By A.R. Rahman

Thanks for the cool list! I’m checking it out!

Juliet 08.01.10 | 9:10 AM ET

How come no one added Kim Richey’s “A place called home”? This was the first travel song that came to my mind.

NFL Jerseys 08.02.10 | 1:02 AM ET

Hotel California- By the Eagles
Jai Ho- By A.R. Rahman
Thanks for the cool list! I’m checking it out!

Carlo Alcos 08.09.10 | 5:49 PM ET

Pretty safe picks, but well done with the thoroughness, rather than just listing the songs, must have taken ages to put together. I love classic rock as much as the next person, but I’ll chuck a few modern songs for you that do it for me:

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - Moab (“there’s nothing that the road cannot heal…)

Bright Eyes - Another Travelin’ Song (“well I’m changing all my strings I’m gonna write another travelin’ song, about all the billion highways and the cities at the break of dawn”)

Ben Kweller - Run (“I’m not done with my traveling, so let’s run, let’s run, let’s run…”)

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Owen 08.30.10 | 3:57 AM ET

I just want to say that I love your taste in music and that you keep the discussions rolling.  Plus I’m crazy about Song of the Day lists.  I love sharing music with friends and exposing them to new stuff.  I’m going to definitely be checking out your site more in the future.  I tried commenting more on other posts but looked like it was disabled for some reason.  Oh well. 

I would love it if you could keep posting more songs from new bands that just came out that people probably wouldn’t have heard of before, because that’s what my Song of the Day blog is all about.  Well, thanks again!  And keep it up!

harsha 08.31.10 | 12:53 AM ET

Man they nice but old songs…infact before i was born anyways godo ones

Mesothelioma 09.22.10 | 8:10 AM ET

This is one of the best song of all time The Long and Winding Road.

Mona Rana 09.24.10 | 2:56 AM ET

Thanks a lot for the songs. I am not very familiar with some of them so in that way time for me to discover them.

Thanks again for the list…

Nina 09.27.10 | 6:35 AM ET

Great list! I started downloading the songs as soon as I finished reading the article. Am sure there are many,many songs that could have made it to this list but thanks for trying to put a few of them together.

Rakesh Ranjan 09.28.10 | 1:59 AM ET

American Girl, which I had listened in the year 1979 on record player.
Songwriter was Petty and the song has much much meaning
I love it because It isn’t classically travel, but it sounds like such a driving song. Plus I’ve always loved listening to it in far off places. Sometimes, even now I listen this song with interest and I do like it as an evergreen song - Rakesh Ranjan

adam gilicirist 10.08.10 | 1:17 AM ET

I am European but I drove several thousand miles along the Amarican roads for leisure (28 travels in all 50 States from 1976 to 1999), I spent much of the time listening to the radio, but I used to carry with me a cassette with a song that was always my favorite soundrack: “White Line"performed by John Starling and the Seldom Scene. Please listen this song at lest once in your life while driving !

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