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Study reveals the ultimate playlists for these iconic road trips

For the most iconic road trips across the world, Uswitch has discovered the ultimate playlists to keep you entertained for the journey.
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Travel restrictions and the rise in staycations saw more of us take to the open road, whilst rediscovering our love for music.

A road trip adventure just isn’t the same without playing uninterrupted songs at top volume.

But, if you thought choosing a place to go was difficult enough, try creating a playlist with enough tunes to last the entire journey.

As a result, the car insurance experts at Uswitch.com identified the most popular places to go for road trips. But, most importantly, they identified the average number of songs necessary to complete the world's most popular road trips based on length.

We can also reveal the number of songs per music genre, to help those with different music tastes to curate their own bespoke playlists for their road trip.

The car is packed and ready to go, you have your favourite road trip snacks stocked up. The big question now is: where to go?

Unsurprisingly, according to the total number of Instagram hashtags, the top two most popular road trips are based in the USA. Route 66, probably one of the most iconic routes in the world, tops the list with just over 1.9 million. This is followed in second place by the Big Sur Coast Highway, travelling along the Big Sur region of California, with 1.42 million hashtags.

Narrowly in third place is the Great Ocean Road in Australia with just over 1.4 million. This scenic beauty hugs the cliffs overlooking the Southern Ocean in south-west Victoria.

Road trips in fourth and fifth place are in Europe. The Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world, and over 1.3 million would agree it is a thing of beauty. If you prefer driving across the mountainous terrain of an impressive national park, Snowdonia in Wales makes up the top five with 882,141.

Blue Ridge Parkway in the USA takes sixth on the list, with around half a million hashtags. This perhaps offers a contrast to those in the top five, with a slow-paced, relaxing drive across the Appalachian Highlands.

Costa Verde in Brazil provides our first trip to South America in seventh place with just over 450,000. Famous for its beaches, beauty, and biodiversity, it is easy to see why this paradise is popular for road trippers the world over.

Eighth place goes to the South Island Circuit in New Zealand on the continent of Oceania (374,310). Recommended to take 12 days, this circular route will take you through some of the most picturesque, Antipodean features there are to see, including the foothills of the Southern Alps and the glacial landscapes of Mount Cook.

Ninth and tenth spots are in the US of A, which means that five of the top 10 most popular road trips are based in the States. The Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to San Diego boasts 369,478 compared to 249,751 of Valley of Fire Road, which dissects the north eastern section of Nevada through an impressive canvas of wind-sculpted red limestone.

Which playlists are available to choose from?

Once the route is decided, the next decision is: what music to listen to for this journey? Understandably, this will be dependent on the length of the trip. For longer journeys, instrumental leads by a country mile with almost 10 hours of music available, and over 200 on its average track count.

Rock music is the perfect choice for journeys up to 6.6 hours long (six hours and 36 minutes with an average of 63 songs), whilst classical music will be best suited for journeys up to 5.7 hours (five hours and 42 minutes with an average of 74 songs). If you are after a slightly alternative genre of music, for journeys up to 5.5 hours (five hours and 30 minutes and 91 songs), give a gaming playlist a go.

If cutting shapes on your journey is what you crave, dance music will last you up to 4.8 hours (four hours and 48 minutes and 74 songs) of drive time. Or you may fancy just belting out some pop classics, which will take you up to 4.2 hours of driving (four hours and 12 minutes and 77 songs).

Hip hop will take you through a journey that is exactly four hours, with an average of 70 songs. For the shortest of journeys, at 3.6 hours (three hours and 36 minutes), you are left with the choice of a Caribbean vibe or an R&B session, which will take you through an average of 63 songs.

Which tracks are best suited for each iconic road trip?

The number of tracks you could listen to for each genre depends on the length of the given road trip, and the length of the tracks you wish to listen to whilst driving.

From the top 10 routes according to Instagram hashtags, Route 66 comes out on top with the most tracks per genre to complete the route. Depending on your musical tastes, you can listen to a significant range from 660 instrumental tracks to 417 classical songs.

Following behind is the Pacific Coast Highway, also based in the USA, with the most tracks per genre to complete this iconic road trip. You can listen to 577 instrumental songs, 516 pop songs, or even 490 Caribbean songs on your travels.

South Island Circuit provides a range of tracks to listen to whilst you drive around the mountainous terrain of New Zealand. Instrumental, pop, R&B and hip hop provide over 400 tracks for your journey, while the remaining genres offer at least 300 each.

Next is the Wild Atlantic Highway of Ireland, with instrumental and pop genres offering over 300 tracks for the journey. Completing the top five is Blue Ridge Parkway in the USA with 218 instrumental songs, 195 pop songs, and even 149 metal tracks.

Of the remaining five road trips, Instrumental and Pop music continues to dominate in terms of the highest number of tracks, and Classical continues to prop up the list for the remaining road trips. Costa Verde in Brazil will offer you 54 Classical and 86 Instrumental tracks, whereas Great Ocean Road in Australia offers 43 Classical and 67 Instrumental songs.

Completing the top 10 is Snowdonia in Wales. With the exception of 32 instrumental songs, all remaining genres offer between 20 and 29 tracks to complete this iconic journey.

Which playlists are best suited for each iconic road trip?

When looking at the most popular routes according to Instagram hashtags, there are significant variations due to the amount of time it takes to complete these iconic routes. For Route 66 in pole position, you can listen to instrumental music playlists over three times, dance music over six times or R&B almost nine times, depending on your musical preferences.

On the other hand, with The Big Sur Coast Highway and The Great Ocean Road, you would struggle to get through one playlist of any genre before your journey came to an end. And for Snowdonia in Wales, you wouldn’t even make it halfway through your selected playlist before the road trip ends.

For Blue Ridge Parkway, you could listen to each instrumental song once with a few repeats, almost all of gaming the whole way through twice, or R&B or Caribbean songs nearly three times.

However, which playlist is best suited to you boils down to several different factors. Musical preference is important, but also whether you like to listen to one playlist without repetitions or whether you are happy to have the same songs play over and over again throughout your journey.

What are the ultimate playlists for these famous road trips?

As with most things in life, it comes down to personal preference. Some of the most iconic road trips are so short that regardless of which playlist is selected, it is unlikely to be completely listened to before the journey ends. But that should not detract from the stunning scenery and luxurious landscapes in which they are set.

For longer road trips that may take more than one day to complete, it is a given that you will need to listen to the same playlist more than once in order to complete the route or select multiple playlists across different genres.

Whatever your personal preferences are, sit back, turn the music up, wind the windows down and enjoy the ride, but remember to stay safe when driving and don’t let the music become a distraction.

Uswitch.com pursued this research to evaluate the popularity of road-trips by the number of music tracks required to complete them. Road-trips were sourced from a seed-list based on the total number of Instagram hashtags, and they were ranked accordingly.

The duration of the road-trip was calculated directly from Google Maps as it considers traffic conditions, and local speed limits. Whilst tracking the actual distance between the starting point and end-point of the road-trip.

The start and end points were subjective, therefore we consulted with several articles to optimize this choice of ‘where to begin’, and ‘where to end’. It seemed reasonable that some locations had circular routes. These were Snowdonia, Cabot Trail, Ring Road, Ring of Kerry and Valley of Fire Road, to properly capture the entire route, along with any sight-seeing activities.

Data on music playlists were extracted from Spotify using their API to extract a selection of the top 10 most popular playlists within each music genre. A total of 100 playlists were selected with the following 10 music genres and their total number of tracks:

  • Caribbean (634)

  • Classical (739)

  • Dance (740)

  • Gaming (913)

  • Hip Hop (699)

  • Instrumental (2030)

  • Metal (979)

  • Pop (765)

  • R&B (630)

  • Rock (978)

With a total of 9097 tracks.

Music genres were selected based on their current popularity. After this phase, we proceeded with calculating the average playlist duration in each genre, and its respective average number of music-tracks.

The final calculations were split by two different datasets:

i) The first calculation consisted of finding the relative proportion of total road-trip hours to the playlist hours to find the number of replays of a playlist to complete a road-trip.

ii) The second calculation found the total number of tracks required to complete an entire road-trip.