Hit the Open Highway with the Best Road Trip Listens to Hear This Summer

Whether you’re loading the entire family into the car for a long summer drive or heading out solo on a shorter journey, these audiobooks and podcasts will keep you company mile after mile.

In theory, any audiobook, audio performance, or podcast can be listened to in the car, but it takes more than great storytelling to be the right fit for every type of road trip. What works for a cross-country adventure may not be quite right for a quick day trip. What you listen to with your significant other may not be (read: is definitely not) the same as what you listen to with a carload of kids. And when driving solo, sometimes what you want is a little company—maybe the familiar voice of a favorite celebrity in an intimate and revealing memoir. No matter what kind of journey you have coming up, we’ve got you covered with our collection of the top road trip listens. Check out what’s recommended for the type of trip you’re planning.

 

The Best Audiobooks for Long or Cross-Country Road Trips

The Road Trip

The Road Trip

Unless you happen to be packed in a car with a bunch of unexpected passengers (including an ex you haven’t seen in two years), you just got into a fender bender, and everybody involved needs to get to Scotland for a wedding, you’re likely riding a lot more comfortably than this motley crew of five Brits. Was it a fortunate stroke of serendipity that put them all in that Mini Cooper heading north? Time will tell. A second-chance romance, The Road Trip is laced with humor, miscommunication, and a whole lot of charm.

Billy Summers

Billy Summers

There’s nothing better than having a brand-spanking-new Stephen King novel to listen to when you have a long ride ahead of you. Part war story, part love letter to small town America and the people who live there, and starring one of the most compelling and complicated heroes in King fiction, Billy Summers is all about love, luck, and fate—and there’s even a car on the cover. How apt!

World Travel

World Travel

This entertaining, practical, fun, and frank travel guide gives listeners an introduction to some of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite places—in his own words and read by some of the people who knew him best and loved him most. Featuring essential advice on how to get there, what to eat, where to stay and, in some cases, what to avoid, World Travel is the perfect companion for veteran travelers, armchair enthusiasts, and those in between.

The Four Winds

The Four Winds

Listening to Julia Whelan perform a Kristin Hannah novel is a salve for the soul and a pure joy! Whelan brilliantly embodies the voice of Elsa—the heroine of this Dust Bowl-era story—as well as the array of Texans, Italian immigrants, and a whole host of unforgettable characters. The Four Winds is the perfect listen to get lost in on a long trip—the mile markers will fly by as the story carries you down the highway.

Blacktop Wasteland

Blacktop Wasteland

The story of Beauregard Bug Montage, a Black Virginian with a criminal past as a getaway driver, is a high-octane heist novel with blistering action sequences and car chases. Blacktop Wasteland is also the moving tale of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime. Think Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist.

 

The Best Audiobooks for Short Road Trips

The Sea in the Sky

The Sea in the Sky

This deep-space adventure is like no sci-fi listen you've heard before. It's at turns heartfelt and haunting—with just enough humor to break up the tense claustrophobia. Broken up into 11 bite-sized episodes, The Sea in the Sky is the perfect listen for your daily ride in to work or for the day trippers looking for some fun this summer and beyond.

The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

At once a powerful evocation of his early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice on both the individual and the body politic, James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil-rights movement with this eloquent manifesto. The Fire Next Time stands as one of the essential works of American literature—as relevant and important today as it was back in the ’60s.

Evil Eye

Evil Eye

Here’s a scenario to ponder: The first part of your drive involves a quick call to check in with mom, but you’ve still got some time to kill, so what’s next? Evil Eye is a brilliantly spun 90-minute thriller told through a series of long distance phone calls between a daughter in the States and her mother in India. There are pedestrian conversations that feel familiar, even ordinary. Then it comes with a right hook of a twist and a roundhouse of a turn, and you land in a place you could have never predicted!

Beginner's Mind

Beginner's Mind

Yo-Yo Ma—an American, immigrant, former child prodigy, world-renowned musician, and beloved cellist—has delivered a message we all need to hear. Throughout Beginner's Mind, told in his own voice with divine musical interludes, Ma inspires with his undying hope in our collective capacity to create, collaborate, connect, and begin again.

Vroom Vroom

Vroom Vroom

Every one of the seven episodes that make up this show will have you laughing out loud, but you won’t care what the carload of teens next to you at the red light thinks about it. Vroom Vroom is a workplace comedy about the high-speed pursuit of the American Dream, starring Andy Richter, Yvette Nicole Brown, John DiMaggio, Rick Gonzalez, Mic Daily, Lucy DeVito, Azhar Khan, and a full cast.

 

The Best Audiobooks for Road Trips With Your Significant Other

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

With its glittering milieu, provocative themes, and remarkable heroine, Opal & Nev is a knockout, and the novel’s dazzling polyphonic structure—a rock oral history for fans of Daisy Jones & The Six and Jean Stein’s Edie—was made to be listened to in audio. This may not be a happily-ever-after romance, but there is a whole lot of love.

Esther Perel's Where Should We Begin?: The Arc of Love

Esther Perel's Where Should We Begin?: The Arc of Love

Esther Perel invites you to listen to private and intimate conversations exploring the evolution of relationships. Hear six sets of people at different points in their quest for romantic and familial love. You may just gain a better understanding of your own relationships through the struggles of these people and Esther’s remarkable insights. At the very least, you’re bound to be inspired to get your own conversation started.

Coupledom with Idris and Sabrina Elba

Coupledom with Idris and Sabrina Elba

In Coupledom, Idris and Sabrina Elba sit down with some of the world’s most interesting duos for honest, unguarded conversations about all the complexities of living a shared life. Along the way, they unlock wisdom for those of us navigating our own coupledoms, and for those still seeking their perfect match.

Hot White Heist

Hot White Heist

Have you been waiting for comic heist like Ocean's Eleven, featuring an all-star, all-queer cast narrating the voices of a team of thieves going after the sperm of the world’s richest and most powerful men, housed in a secret bunker under Seattle’s Space Needle? No? Well, why not? Hot White Heist includes some of comedy’s funniest LGBTQ+ stars. Featuring the voices of Bowen Yang, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, and many more, it’s the perfect listen for laughter-propelled bonding while hitting the road with your significant other.

Anxious People

Anxious People

After unsuccessfully attempting to hold up a cashless bank, a desperate father accidentally creates a hostage situation by running headfirst into a crowded apartment viewing. From our bumbling would-be robber to the collection of regular folks locked in together to the father/son cop team who lead the investigation, each character in Anxious People has a story to be told. What’s revealed is pure Fredrik Backman truth-telling. His uncanny ability to get to the heart of things with humor, tenderness, and wisdom is brought to life by narrator Marin Ireland’s performance. She simply nails it–giving each and every quirky character a voice that resonates.

 

The Best Kid-Friendly Audiobooks for Road Trips With the Whole Family

New Found Land: The Long Haul

New Found Land: The Long Haul

Ray guns and jet packs, wizards and magic stones, visitors from alternate worlds, a secret society deep below Oxford, people who can see across timelines, and a cross-country pursuit that could determine the fate of three worlds. If you and your crew are fans of dramatic productions featuring big casts, you'll definitely want to hop on board. New Found Land is performed by a full cast of exceptional narrators to keep the whole carload happily listening.

Action Park

Action Park

Yes, kids, I was once cool. For many who came of age within driving distance of Vernon, NJ, in the ’80s, this story serves as the ultimate “when I was your age, we didn’t have it so easy” lesson. Some moms and dads may take issue with sharing this story for fear that their offspring could attempt to reenact the outright recklessness that took place at the notoriously fun and dangerous Action Park. But fear not, this adventure park is no longer with us, and if presented as a cautionary tale, it might help dissuade the daredevil kids in the car from taking too many risks, while still leaving them just a little bit impressed by your generation’s follies (but don’t count on it).

The Weirdies

The Weirdies

If you’re a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Edward Scissorhands, or the darker side of classic kids lit, The Weirdies—triplets Barnacle, Garlic, and Melancholy—will feel like old friends. After being left behind when everybody else from Deadeye Manor has departed for a doomed vacation cruise, the triplets have to learn how to fend for themselves. Brilliantly performed by Kate Winslet, this listen will keep everybody in the car captivated and entertained to the point of fitful laughter.

Jukebox Joyride

Jukebox Joyride

Jukebox Joyride follows 12-year-old twins Jules and George on a wild adventure through time. Their Uncle Bob, a renowned ethnomusicologist (he studies music), has discovered the secret to time travel and is having a ball joyriding through history checking out the best concerts ever...but something’s gone wrong. This musical escapade brings the twins from the birth of jazz in New Orleans to a performance by an 11-year-old Mozart in Vienna, all while trying to make it back to the present day to pass their history test!

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

This Newbery Medal-winning story by Katherine Applegate has become a modern classic for a reason—kids and adults have fallen in love with a gorilla named Ivan. Listening to Ivan's unforgettable first-person narration (performed by Adam Grupper) in a tale of friendship, art, and hope is simply the best form of entertainment with kids in the car. And after meeting Ivan, you’ll want hear the story of the spunky little dog who became his best friend. Bob, performed by Danny Devito, tells his own tale in The One and Only Bob.

 

The Best Audiobooks for Solo Road Trips

Greenlights

Greenlights

If you’re alone in the car, whether on your daily commute or heading out on a long-haul adventure, who would you pick as your imaginary copilot? Looking at just about every best seller list out there, Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey is many people’s first choice. The star’s unconventional memoir is filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction. After a few hours alone with Mr. McConaughy, you just may find your own answers to the meaning of life.

Dolly Parton, Songteller

Dolly Parton, Songteller

How lucky are we to have this memoir—filled with personal stories, life wisdom, and, yes, musical interludes—from the American treasure that is Dolly Parton!? She frames her story through her songs—taking the listener on a real musical journey. Dolly Parton is timeless. Her authenticity and talent shine throughout Songteller, and she reminds us of all that is good in this world. She is the person almost every human being on the planet would want to spend hours with in a car, and we now can do just that!

Yearbook

Yearbook

Sometimes when you’re trying to get to know a person better, it’s actually nice to hear from their friends and family along with your more deeply personal one-on-one time together. This memoir gives you lots of alone-time with Seth Rogen, but also features a cast of more than 80 voices, including cameos by Rogan’s mom and dad, Nick Kroll, Jay Pharoah, Jason Segel, Dan Aykroyd, Ike Barinholtz, Simon Helberg, Tommy Chong, and Billy Idol. Of course, it’s hysterically funny, but Rogen's Yearbook is equally heartwarming and certainly one that is meant to be heard.

Eat a Peach

Eat a Peach

Everything David Chang does—from his restaurant empire Momofuku to his work in TV, media, and podcasting—brims with his signature vision and authenticity. It’s no surprise that Eat a Peach is a foodie’s dream—the mirin-soaked backstory of a bootstrap noodle bar that succeeded far beyond its founder’s wildest dreams. But the main course is how deep Chang is willing to dig into his struggles with anger and depression (he is bipolar), racism, and the pressure to meet his parents’ high expectations—all in his own calm, easy-to-listen-to voice.

The Last Black Unicorn

The Last Black Unicorn

Tiffany Haddish can't avoid being funny: It's just who she is. But The Last Black Unicorn is so much more than a side-splittingly hilarious collection of essays—it's a memoir of a woman who was able to achieve her dreams by reveling in her pain and awkwardness, showing the world who she really is, and inspiring others through the power of laughter. Talk about the ideal copilot—there’s no better road buddy out there. Tiffany Haddish is the best friend we all need.

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