Armchair 2 Adventure: Road Trip Playlist.

During the summer, I took a much needed vacation across America in a camper van. Along the way various things happened – some introspective, some not. Here’s a snippet.

Overlandia’s Brendan Leonard recently devised  a formula for the music playlist requirements needed for a road trip:

Round-trip Length of Road Trip (in hours and minutes) = Length of Road Trip Playlist x ½

Music is a big deal to me. Music is probably a big deal to a lot of people – clearly Brendan Leonard – and on my recent trip across America, it was no exception. I thought I was clever in ensuring my laptop and iPhone had playlists I could plug into. But I was also looking forward to a bit of “on the road radio”. Not the satellite variants, but good ol’ fashioned local radio until it fuzzes out and you have to find another. Or you get so invested in a gem of a radio station in the middle of nowhere, you make do with the static interference until the airwaves take it away and replace it with Mexicali Country Jazz. (It exists in New Mexico)

In my frenzy of packing two hours before my flight I had managed to pack everything I ever needed for the trip  with the exception of the connector wire  to plug my iPhone into the car stereo. This could have been fatal. In the end though it only ever mattered in Texas where there is a Christian Rock station for every mile of road. By the end of my multi-state California – Florida – Virginia – Florida – California road trip I was able to tally in an unscientific way the “Top 8 Songs on Permanent Rotation on US Radio”. I posted my findings in the most unscientific journal of them all:


Music on a road trip is crucial to the integrity of the experience, and the sanity of your fellow trippers. And let’s face it, it’s crucial to your own survival. The music sucks and you could find yourself  thumbing it in the middle of nowhere. I was fortunate, even in Texas, that the music was tolerable, didn’t destroy any of that “Road Trip Spirit” or make my eyes bleed. It certainly came close (especially in Texas) but even earworm tunes have their place in the retelling of an epic road trip. Arguably, they become that part of the Official Soundtrack,  initially eliciting groans and “god, not THAT…”, only to be swathed in the coolest more poignant memories of the trip (and everyone sings along at the important bits). Dare I say it, but we need those earworms. They keep the road trip alive through thick and thin; they smooth out the drama; they give purpose to the infinite epiphanies one has following the endless highway.

There’s a reason the band is called Journey.

This summer I’ll be embarking on yet another epic road trip and I’m pretty sure music will be a vital passenger. 16 countries over 10,000 miles, it could be vital to have some “rules”…