Last Updated on January 31, 2021 by Kristin
This year, the AAA estimates that over 104 million people will hit the roads over the holiday season, which will top’s last year’s record-breaking traffic. So whether you’re driving your own car or getting great deal on a rental, here’s a holiday road trip playlist to make your journey merry and bright, with Christmas classics from Elvis Presley and Mariah Carey to the Jackson 5, Bing Crosby and more.
25 Essential Tunes for Your Holiday Road Trip
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1. Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
Rock legend Chuck Berry suggests Santa take the freeway to make it to town more quickly, making this an especially relatable road-trip classic.
2. All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey’s signature vocal range makes this a car karaoke classic. Go ahead, belt out the high “youuuuuuu” at the end—but just be careful you don’t miss your exit.
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – The Jackson 5
You and Santa Claus are both coming to town, but sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. So, check your playlist twice for this Motown rendition from young Michael Jackson and his brothers.
4. Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
It doesn’t matter if your rental sleigh is a compact Chevy Cobalt or Chrysler convertible—it’s impossible to not be excited about your road trip when singing along with this upbeat 60s girl group.
5. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
While we don’t recommend “haulin’ through the snow at a frightening speed” like the man with the beard, we do suggest you give this ode to the holiday hot rod a listen.
6. Christmas in Hollis – Run-D.M.C.
While especially relevant for all those East Coast travelers, this song is for those moments for anyone sitting in city traffic instead of whimsically cruising down a country lane. The Queens trio recounts a story about finding Santa’s wallet stuffed with a million dollars, which should be plenty to pay for your rental car and a few other items on the list.
7. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Why not take a page out of Eartha Kitt’s book and ask Santa for a luxury rental car upgrade for your next holiday road trip? Sure, a ’54 convertible might not be the most practical model, but surely you can find something to arrive down the Chimney Expressway in style.
8. Last Christmas – Wham!
This anthem featuring George Michaels’s smooth vocals can make even a holiday heartbreak a little more fun.
9. I’ll be Home for Christmas – Elvis Presley
This country classic deserves a spot on your playlist because you will be home for the holidays—even when that string of lights seems to be more red than green.
10. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
This offbeat, synth-laden tale of seasonal frenzy will make your “mad rush” hour infinitely more entertaining.
11. Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano
According to Billboard, this hit by Puerto Rico’s José Feliciano is one of the top-selling holiday songs of all time. Warning: This earworm is one of the hardest to get out of your head.
12. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
Darlene Love pours out her soul about missing a loved one during the holidays, and there’s a good chance someone may be singing it about you while you’re braving the freeway.
13. Winter Wonderland – Louis Armstrong
Snow isn’t always a soothing sight on a road trip, but this jazzy gem will quickly put the car at ease no matter what the weather holds.
14. The Chipmunk Song – Alvin and the Chipmunks
A must for anyone traveling with kids. Bonus points if your clan can harmonize like the cartoon crew.
15. The Chanukah Song – Adam Sandler
Let’s face it—comic relief is key on any long road trip, as is a break from Christmas tunes.
16. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft
There are always a few drivers out there who might not seem especially friendly, and this humorous song is dedicated to them.
17. Christmas Time is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio
This nostalgic tune from the Charlie Brown Christmas special is undeniably relaxing.
18. Let it Snow! – Dean Martin
Dean Martin reminds us that while it’s hard to leave a holiday gathering to drive back home, being surrounded by friends and family makes it worth the while.
19. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
This 1950s tune about a horse picking up the pace is perfect for those times when it seems like things on the highway should be moving a bit more quickly.
20. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays – NSYNC
This pop smash hit is a perfect way to practice harmonies when the car is full.
21. Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby and David Bowie
David Bowie’s signature voice brings a special twist to Bing Crosby’s sultry crooning in this lovely duet.
22. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
When there are still several hours left to go on your trip, listen to this tune for a reminder of all the fun coming up.
23. Frosty the Snowman – Gene Autry
A traffic cop makes a cameo in this singalong—something we hope doesn’t happen on your holiday road trip.
24. White Christmas – Michael Bublé and Bing Crosby
Grammy winner Michael Bublé puts a contemporary spin in this duet with the crooner that made this iconic tune a classic.
25. Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon and Yoko Ono
This beautiful song is about Christmas but carries a bigger message about spreading peace throughout the world.