Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.
Every great road trip comes with a killer soundtrack. Cruising along the open road with the windows down, the wind in your hair and your specially curated playlist blasting out your favourite jams is one of the best feelings in the world. Nothing matches that sense of freedom and adventure a good playlist can create on a big drive.
Road trips are more than just a way to get from point A to point B. Canada has some of the best road trip routes in the world that carve through pristine national parks, skirt along seaside cliffs and climb dramatic mountains. A Canadian road trip is an exercise in getting back to nature. Which, according to Stress Coach and Wellness Educator, Nicole Porter, is good for our health and can even help us feel more focused and productive.
"Your brain is like a muscle, it needs to be trained in order to stay fit," she says.
"With new things to see, smell, touch, hear, and maybe even taste, nature provides an opportunity to experience an entirely different environment. This is where brain training comes in - if we mindfully walk through nature, and we are mindfully using our senses to pay attention, it is like training your brain to focus. And where there's focus, there's productivity."
Whether you're taking a tour of B.C.'s tranquil turquoise lakes with friends, escaping the construction in Montreal on a romantic weekend getaway, or embarking on a solo trip to try out forest bathing — these tried-and-tested tips for making the best road trip playlist can help you create the ideal musical accompaniment to your adventures.
So grab your keys, turn the volume up and keep driving until you hit uninterrupted natural landscapes. It's time to kick your road trip into gear.
Tailor Your Playlist To Your Destination
You can be as clichéed or as abstract as you like with this one. Heading through sweeping farmlands? Don't miss out on adding some country hits to sing along to. Winding your way toward a beach? Some upbeat indie ukulele vibes hit the spot every time.
If you know a particular musician hails from your final destination, you could give them a spin to really feel like a local. Creating a playlist inspired by your destination is one way to feel like you're on your way, even if you've only just pulled out of the driveway.
Organize It By Genre
Collaborating on a playlist with your road trip pals sounds like a great idea at the start, but after everyone has dumped their favourite tunes into the list it can become a complete muddle of moods and genres.
If you take a few minutes to organize your playlist by genre it can create a seamless experience that everyone will enjoy. There's no need to worry because there's something for everyone.
Take Requests & Mix It Up
Road trips are wonderful for discovering new music. By taking requests from your fellow travellers, you may end up discovering a new song or two that you love. Plus, everyone's happy when they get to hear their favourite bops on a long trip.
If you don't want to be in control of the playlist during the entire adventure, you can all take turns being the DJ.
Find Pre-Made Playlists To Make Your Life Easier
With everything that goes into planning a trip, sometimes it's not possible to create the perfect playlist before you set off. If you find you're out of time (or you'd rather just have someone do the work for you), you can hit play on a pre-made playlist.
Apps like Spotify make it easy to bring up a playlist based on mood, music style or artist.
Don't Forget The Classics
Turning on the top 20 can be fun — there's always something new to enjoy — but what's also great is cranking the songs you grew up with and know all the words to. You never deliberately learned the lyrics, but somehow every line is permanently imprinted on your brain. Those are the best kind of songs — the ones that make the car fill with happy singing and seated dance moves as you head down memory lane.
This one is going to be different for everyone. Fleetwood Mac, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Green Day or Blink-182 are always a good place to start.
Take It Easy
It's natural to be feeling pumped up for a road trip, and the songs on your playlist will help keep that feeling alive. But if you're going for an extra-long drive, you don't want to tire everyone out before you even arrive at your destination.
A good way to balance the excitement is to have a playlist that includes a mix of both upbeat and slower songs. Playing a few lo-fi beats can be a nice way to keep everyone chilled out and entertained while they take in the glorious scenery.
Pay Attention To The Vibe
Every song has a vibe and makes you feel a certain kind of way. So ask yourself what the vibe of your road trip is. Is it about being excited to be alive? Is it more reflective? Once you understand the vibe of your trip, you can load up the songs on your playlist to match it perfectly.
If you're hitting the road to unplug and recharge, Mazda's chill "Back to Nature" playlist can help you unwind. Listening to it while heading toward your nature-filled destination is a great way to mentally prepare yourself.
Whether you're driving for a few days or just a few hours, creating your very own road trip soundtrack (or choosing a ready-made playlist for ease) will help make your next adventure a memorable one.
And even if you don't have a long drive planned, these road trip playlist tips might just inspire you to hit pause, hop in your car and take the road back to nature to relax, refresh and recharge.