The whistling wind and rumbling highway. Pit stops in tiny towns. The deeper-than-usual conversations with your fellow travelers. Sing-along tunes blasted on high. Silent stretches that make way for meditation and reflection. This is the magic of a road trip.
There’s a sense of freedom that only road trips can deliver. Something about driving long distances allows us to open our minds a little wider and see things a little clearer. That’s why I love bringing along audiobooks. A good road trip audiobook can keep you company, make you laugh, inspire your life and turn your ride into a true voyage.
Not sure which one to press play on first? These 12 road trip audiobooks are bound to make any journey (or your daily commute) even better.
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Road Trip Audiobooks for When You Want to Be Transported to Another Place
Written by Janice MacLeod, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Whether you’re a francophile or just love hearing stories about everyday people escaping the ordinary, this audiobook will bring you along a lighthearted journey of reinvention. Follow along as MacLeod quits her job, sells her belongings and moves to Paris for two years in a memoir that’s suited for our modern times—a journey from burnout to freedom, to love, and finally, a life on her own terms.
Elsey Come Home
Written by Susan Conley, Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Centered around a mother’s struggle with alcoholism and recovery, this fictional story takes place at a mountain retreat in China, away from her adopted home in Beijing, China. If you’re looking for a poignant portrait of womanhood, identity, expat experiences, life in contemporary China and the journey home to oneself, press play on this audiobook.
Written by Min Jin Lee, Narrated by Allison Hiroto
This multi-generational saga follows a Korean family’s story of love, shame and exile as they navigate life in Japan, where they’re treated as second-class citizens. Pachinko not only takes you back in time, but transports you to Korea and Japan in a visceral way. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in years, and the audiobook would be a perfect long road trip companion.
Road Trip Audiobooks for When You Want to Get Lost in Other People’s Stories
Written and narrated by Patti Smith
Patti Smith eloquently brings you back to New York City in the 60s and 70s as she shares the story of her life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, their residency at the Chelsea Hotel and the evolution of their love on their ascent to fame. It’s also narrated by Patti, a treat within itself.
Educated: A Memoir
Written by Tara Westover, Narrated by Julia Whelan
Abused, uneducated and the child of survivalist parents, Tara Westover left the only life she knew to seek an education at 17, eventually earning a doctorate from Cambridge. For those who love quests of transformation, this audiobook will take you on a truly triumphant journey.
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
Written and Narrated by Tembi Locke
Another travel-inspired road trip audiobook, this is the true story of American actress Tembi Locke and her Sicilian husband, Saro. When her husband dies from cancer, Locke and her daughter travel back to Sicily where they find nourishment and healing.
Road Trip Audiobooks for When You Want a Reflective Journey
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy
Written and Narrated by Anne Lamott
If you find that road trips evoke more self-reflection and receptivity than usual, this audiobook might just be the boost you need. Through her profound yet funny style, Lamott takes on the subject of mercy, which she deems “radical kindness.” If you could use a little more kindness, for yourself and others, turn this one up.
Braving the Wilderness
Written and Narrated by Brené Brown
Brené Brown is never short on inspiration, and if you love her supportive yet no-nonsense style, this audiobook might just turn your car into a mini motivational retreat. The message is this: to find true belonging, we need to show up fully as ourselves. When’s a better time to ponder our authenticity and vulnerability than when on a meditative journey by car?
The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere
Written and Narrated by Pico Iyer
Pico Iyer is a celebrated travel writer, but perhaps his most profound work to date is a meditation on sitting still. With his soft, endearing voice and eloquent prose, Iyer reflects on digital noise, disconnection and the power of retreat in today’s overwhelming world.
Road Trip Audiobooks for When You Need to Laugh
Written and Narrated by David Sedaris
If a funny audiobook is more your vibe, look no further than David Sedaris’ Calypso. Especially relevant to a road trip, the essays revolve around sojourns to Sedaris’ vacation home and his observations on relationships, middle age and mortality, all told with his signature sense of twisted humor.
Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay
Written and Narrated by Phoebe Robinson
As a co-host of the popular podcast 2 Dope Queens, you know this audiobook will be both hilarious and well read. Roll down the windows and tune in to witty conversations on pop culture feminism and the struggles of our generation.
So Here’s the Thing…: Notes on Growing Up, Getting Older, and Trusting Your Gut
Written and Narrated by Alyssa Mastromonaco
Tune into the audiobook for frank and funny discussions on career, relationships, body image, surviving in the day and age of social media and essentially any topic you and your girlfriends would chat about anyways. A road trip BFF in audio form.