8 Steps to Creating the Perfect Road Trip Playlist

Music can make or break a road trip, so don’t put your fate in the hands of the radio. Here are a few tips to help you become the best in-car DJ you can be.

  • 1. Arrive prepared

    Old-school cassettes make the best road trip playlist
    Before you even get in the car, do your homework. How are you going to play your tracks? Will it be an old-school cassette mix tape affair, or will you need to come with your smartphone fully loaded? If so, DON’T FORGET YOUR CHARGER.
  • 2. Get the intro right

    Go too hard too early and you run the risk of burning out before you’ve even hit the motorway. Pace yourself with a couple of midtempo numbers to begin with. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  • 3. Judge the mood

    Hula dancer on the dashboard with the open road
    Reacting to your audience is rule No. 1 of being a good DJ. A playlist of ’90s pop anthems will not be appreciated when you’re stuck in traffic with your dad on the way home from losing 4-0 at Barnsley. Keep the mix diverse and you’ll always have something to fall back on.
  • 4. Know when to pull out the big guns

    Power ballads were made for road trips. “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Don’t Stop Believing” — you know the drill. With the open road in front of you and the sun beaming down, drop a couple of these and scream until you’re hoarse with raw ’80s emotion. You’ll feel better for it afterwards.
  • 5. It’s OK to stick in a few guilty pleasures

    If ever there was a place to belt out the Spice Girls, it’s in a confined space with sealed doors.
  • 6. Bring some local knowledge

    Map showing multiple destinations in Ireland
    Create your own musical tour packed with artists from the areas you’ll be driving through. Going overseas? Perfect. Listen to some bossa nova in Brazil or hip-hop in Harlem. The more niche the better.
  • 7. React with your environment

    Country and western might not be your bag while stuck on the M25 in rush hour, but roll down Route 66 with the dust under your tyres and it’s a totally different herd of cattle. Imagine your surroundings as a film set — it’s your job to provide the soundtrack.
  • 8. Four to the floor

    It’s the last quarter of the journey, and you can almost smell your destination. But hours on the road have sucked the energy out of the car like a fun vacuum. Time to reach for the club bangers. Big vocal house classics laden with piano hooks are the musical equivalent of an espresso. By the time you arrive, you’ll be on sparkling form.