1. Going Up the Country – Canned Heat
I’m going up the country
Babe, don’t you wanna go?
I’m going to some place
Where I’ve never been before.
Adopted as the unofficial Woodstock anthem in 1969, the song is now the anthem for backpackers searching for freedom and escape from the routine of regular life. It’s the ultimate feel-good song for packing your bags and leaving your “baggage” behind as the upbeat attitude, mantric lines, and airy flute whisk you away to your next destination.
2. On the Road – String Cheese Incident
hey hey, I’m out on the road
got no worries, get in the car and roll
“On the Road” is the best eclectic song to start your trip. The carefree lyrics in combination with the playful string-band beats will keep your heels up and your travel plans open to follow every spontaneous whim and funk you feel.
3. The World at Large – Modest Mouse
I move on to another day
To a whole new town with a whole new way
Went to the porch to have a thought
Got to the door and again, I couldn’t stop
Wanderlust can be wondrous, but it can also make one feel unfulfilled from time to time. The restless itch and insatiable yearn for travel keeps backpackers on the road rather then settling in one place for too long. Any drifter will connect with the song’s more melancholy sentiment of feeling anxious to move on to the next place, and uncertain because “uh-uh baby I aint got no plan.”
4. Truckin – The Grateful Dead
Truckin, up to buffalo. been thinkin, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin on.
The “keep on keepin’ on” vibe to the song is perfect for when you’re weather-beaten and weary on the road. Maybe you’re having troubles finding a new ride to hitch down the highway, or maybe you made an accidental pit stop in a Paris jail cell, or maybe you’ve lost your cash and passport during the course of a rowdy night at a bar in Mexico, you just have to take it in stride, even if you are just “truckin’ home.”
5. Ramble on – Led Zeppelin
Ramble On, And now’s the time, the time is now
To sing my song. I’m goin’ ’round the world,
I got to find my girl, on my way.
Classic as always, Led Zeppelin’s hoarse, unique voice rambles on about, well, rambling on, or in other words, always moving forward. “Singing your own song,” or following your own path on your adventures, is a powerful message of self-reliance, freedom, and independence.
6. Wagon Wheel – Old Medicine Crow
Oh, the North country winters keep a gettin’ me now
Lost my money playin’ poker so I had to up and leave
But I ain’t a turnin’ back to livin’ that old life no more
One of my favorite love and travel songs, “Wagon Wheel” is about a man trying to leave behind his past, and hitchhike his way to meet his lover and new life. The bluegrass, folksy tune and banjo strings are the ideal backdrop for when you’re traveling through wide open spaces in the countryside.
7. Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Road trippin’ with my two favorite allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
It’s time to leave this town, It’s time to steal away
Let’s go get lost anywhere in the U.S.A.
It’s easy to get lost in the tranquil, entirely acoustic notes of one of Red Hot Chili Peppers more soothing songs, “Road Trippin’.” Personally, the song gives me a sense of nostalgia, of being young and free with friends, when time seems plentiful and the world is for your taking. But whatever it reminds you of, it is certainly a must-have for your backpacking playlist, ample in the traditional, nomadic spirit of “getting lost” in your journey.
8. Guaranteed – Eddie Vedder
Everyone I come across, in cages they bought
They think of me and my wandering, but I’m never what they thought
I’ve got my indignation, but I’m pure in all my thoughts
A soundtrack for the film “Into the Wild,” (which is also a great book for backpackers if you haven’t read it before) “Guaranteed” is for your unconventional, contemplative moods when you feel like questioning social norms, society, old habits, and the meaning of true freedom.
9. Trip the Light – Alicia Lemke
We’re gonna trip the light
We’re gonna break the night
And we’ll see with new eyes
When we trip the light
To “see with new eyes” is one of the goals of traveling. This song is inspiring for backpackers who seek to travel from the known to the unknown, with the intention of opening their mind and growing from other cultures, lifestyles, and perspectives across the world.
10. The Sea – Morcheeba
I left my soul there, down by the sea
I lost control here, living free
“The Sea” is an awesome clinching song when you’re on the plane ride back from a spectacular, surreal experience abroad. The dreamy, sultry sounds reminisce the good days of freedom by the sea (or maybe just on the road in your case,) but still remind you of your life that you’re about to return to as the lyrics conclude “I’d love to stay / but the city calls me home.”