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Summer is in full swing, which means road trip season is too, especially for families. And while the thought of taking a family road trip has a tendency to conjure up disastrous visualizations of the Grizwold family vacations, having some interactive road trip games and a handful of well-curated playlists can make the trip a lot less stressful for parents. It can be tempting to stick your kids in front of the iPad and hit play (we don’t blame you if you do), but if you’re trying to limit their screen time, a family-friendly playlist is a great way to help pass the time on the open road and get everyone tuned in with their favorite jams.

Of course, we know that the age range of most families differs and not everyone can bear listening to “Baby Shark” on repeat, so we’ve curated five family-friendly road trip playlists that will keep you tuned in while the wheels are turning. We’ve thought of just about everything including music for young children, family pop, songs from the big screen and guilty pleasure sing-alongs designed to keep sibling squabbles, meltdowns and the “are we there yet” questions to a minimum.

We should note that we listened to hours of music to proof them for each playlist, but it still pays to mention that Spotify has a feature that allows you to censor your account for further assurance that no profanity is included.

Tune in below to hit play on your favorite playlists and learn what makes music such a valuable addition to your family road trip.

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Kids and Music: Why It’s Important at an Early Age

Classic rock or pop, instrumental or lyrical, Beethoven or Lady Gaga, music is something we’re naturally attracted to—no matter what the age. In fact, music plays a big role in our children’s early life and development. We use lullabies to rock babies to sleep, dance to rhythmic tunes with young toddlers and even use songs to teach basic concepts like the alphabet. Many children are hooked on music at a young age, whether they’re singing along or trying to make music of their own by using toys.

But music isn’t just fun for kids, it’s good for them too. Studies have shown that when we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, the feel-good hormone. The release being the strongest when a piece of music reaches an emotional peak and the listener feels that sense of excitement and awe.

Music’s benefits also go beyond making your children feel good. There’s thought to be a relationship between musical aptitude on ability and intelligence. Music is thought to help children with a number of different skills.

  • The development of language, literacy and communications
  • Cognitive skills and motor skills
  • Individual development
  • The creation of order and security
  • Social development

Many people associate music and children with the Mozart Effect—the idea that playing background classical music can improve a child’s ability to learn a task and perform it. While there are studies that support this idea, others also suggest that music can help with a wide array of child developmental skills.

benefits of songs for kids

Simply put, music is an important part of life for children. These benefits are the reason why many schools, teachers and early childhood programs include music in their classes. And since most kids are out of the classroom for summer, there’s no better way to incorporate music in your children’s day than by turning on some family-oriented playlists on your next road trip.

5 Family-Friendly Playlists for Your Next Road Trip

Now that you’re sold on why children should have a musical upbringing, it’s time to dive into the good stuff. And by that, we mean the actual tunes. Below, we’ve highlighted 5 playlists geared for your family road trip that will encourage every to sing along or just get into the groove while you’re on the road.

Fun Songs for Young Kids

road trip songs for young kids illustration

No collection of road trip songs for kids would be complete without a playlist geared towards young children. So, if you also have teenagers in the car, we apologize for the Raffi-overload.

From “Baby Shark” to “Hamster Dance,” this 24 song-long playlist is a cute collection of tunes that will spark laughter from the back seat and maybe even the front. If your kids are a little older and beyond finding them fun, feel free to skip ahead. Otherwise, buckle-up and get your kid’s motor running by turning up this fun playlist!

Songs for Kids: On The Go Family Friendly Pop

family friendly songs for kids on the road

If you made through the previous playlist in its entirety, we applaud you. There’s no doubt silly kid’s tunes are a great way to spark laughter, but if the whole family is ready for something a little easier on the attention span, shift gears by queueing up this family-friendly pop playlist, made up of clean, current(ish) hits that are sure to have you and your kids grooving in your seats.

Some highlights from the playlist below include hits like Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are” and “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. This playlist upbeat playlist is great for passing by those miles of open road. We even suggest downloading them, so if you’re driving through a remote area like a national park, you don’t have to worry about listening to the static of FM radio.

Songs for Kids From the Big Screen

road trip songs kids movie characters

“Nants ingonyama bagithi baba.”

We’ve all made an attempt to belt out this infamous first line from the “Circle of Life.” In fact, most of us grew up with Disney, which means we inevitably spend our early childhood years prancing around the living room on all fours imagining we were Simba looking out over Pride Rock. While your children have hopefully replaced you in acting out this scene, The Lion King soundtrack is a great listen no matter how old you are—those Hollywood composers really knew what they were doing.

Sing your heart out to classics from the big screen like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” or listen to the vocal skills of iconic actors like Dwane “The Rock” Johnson in the Moana soundtrack. With over two hours of songs on this playlist, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

Classic Rock n’ Road Trip

car illustration rock and road trip

There’s nothing that says summer road trip quite like a playlist of iconic classic rock songs. Plunge the car into some rockin’ tunes that have stood the test of time. This classic rock road trip playlist is made up of legendary road trip songs such as “Take It Easy” by the Eagles and “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones, both guaranteed to help the miles roll by as you traverse the open roads of our great country.

Headbanging is not necessary, but it’s encouraged—in fact, this might even tire your kids out and give you some quiet time as they take a nap post-jam session.

Sing-Alongs and Guilty Pleasure Songs for Kids

guilty pleasure songs for kids

There are some songs that pass the test of time as true sing-alongs. It’s impossible to stay silent through “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believin.” And as much as you’ll hate to admit it, you’ll most likely know the words to all of these songs, even if you think you won’t.

It’s time to pass on the love for these classics to your kids. Let your inhibitions go and sing to the top of your lungs. You might even try making it a friendly contest or treat it as practice for your next family karaoke night.

Hit the Road

Whether you’re heading to the beach, a theme park or on a camping trip, these curated playlists are a sure-fire way to make the miles roll by smoothly and set the rest of your trip up for success. Use our playlists or let it inspire you to create one that’s more personalized to your family’s tastes. Either way, make the most of the summer by rolling down the windows, getting in the car and cranking up the radio to kick your road trip into high gear!