So you’ve chosen the destinations, packed the car and it’s time to hit the road. Only question is… what are you going to listen to? Pick one of these stellar audiobooks for the perfect road trip.
As someone who has spent countless hours on the road, on jaunts ranging from an epic month-long sojourn along the West Coast of the US to meandering between stunning hilltop towns in Tuscany, let me tell you, there’s nothing that makes the hours fly by like a good old audiobook.
It figures right? No sooner do you press play and you’re drawn into a different world – imagination running riot as the landscape rolls by and the miles clock up one by one.
I’ve personally always been obsessed with books – after all I indulged my not-so-secret inner bookworm studying English Language & Literature at Oxford University. So when it came to choosing the best audiobooks for this road trip guide, not everything was going to cut it.
I’ve split this guide into the best road trip audiobooks by type of journey, along with a couple of practical points to consider – what’s going to shine on a solo adventure isn’t going to keep the whole family entertained.
The Anatomy of a Perfect Road Trip Audiobook
Trust me, there’s nothing worse than leaving a book half-read, so judging your book to coincide with the length of your tour is ideal. Research how long your road trip will likely be and find a book that roughly lasts that long.
In addition, you’ll want a narrator with an engaging style to keep your attention throughout the book. Accent, tone, diction, and the ability to include different voices for different characters are essential for stopping your mind from wandering.
Listen to a preview before you buy – a particular narrator’s style might not gel with you for whatever reason. Trust me when I say you want to find that out before you’re stuck listening to them for fifteen hours.
Think about who’s in your car with you. While there’s nothing wrong with listening to a motivational tome during a solo trip, it’s unlikely to go down so well with young kids in the car.
Best Audiobooks for Road Trips By Type of Road Trip
Audiobooks for Solo Adventures
Becoming by Michelle Obama – Narrated by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is one of the most iconic women of our era, and who better to tell her story than the woman herself?
The first African American woman to serve as First Lady of the United States, this is a memoir that invites us into her world.
From her childhood in Chicago, she tells her story as it is, with charm, wit, and emotion, while imparting no small amount of wisdom. Most of all, it’s impossible not to be struck by how human Michelle Obama is throughout her tale.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – Narrated by Derek Perkins
Humanity has existed for 200,000 years, a mere blink of an eyelid in terms of the history of our planet, and has changed the face of the Earth more than any other species.
Yuval Noah Harari traces the history of humankind from the Stone Age to today in a book you simply won’t want to pause.
Read by award-winning actor Derek Perkins; his rich delivery perfectly complements Harari’s words to create an audiobook that will change how you see the world.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Narrated by Alma Cuervo, Robin Miles and Julia Whelan
You’ll soon be able to watch this superb novel by the creator of Daisy Jones & The Six on a new Netflix drama. However, I think this audiobook is one of the best fiction reads currently available. Charting the reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo as she tells about her life of glamour and scandal, it also explores the life of the unknown magazine reporter she chooses to tell the story to.
Exceptionally well told and acted by Alma Cuervo, Robin Miles and Julia Whelan, you will sink into this hugely addictive, heart-breaking tale of old Hollywood glamour.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – Narrated by Roger Wayne
We live in the TikTok age, where every microblogger worth their salt has a take on the world, where it and people are going wrong and how to correct the world’s ills.
Mark Manson decides to eschew positivity with his raw, refreshing, honest truth that doesn’t tiptoe around the fact that the world around us is f*cked.
Described as a refreshing slap for a generation plagued by self-doubt, Roger Wayne’s delivery perfectly lays down the way forward to help us all lead more contented, grounded lives.
Audiobooks for a Couple’s Getaway Adventure
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Narrated by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne
Sure, it’s a little OTT but not going to lie, Gone Girl is one of my favourite books of recent years and had me wondering just how well I knew my own family.
Nick Dunne wakes up on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary to find his wife Amy has suddenly disappeared. What follows is a tale of mystery, intrigue and suspense superbly told by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne.
Normal People by Sally Rooney – Narrated by Aoife McMahon
If, like me, you’re a fan of all things Paul Mescal, you’ll have seen the BBC Three adaptation of Normal People, Sally Rooney’s incredible tale of Connell and Marianne and their story that grows from a single conversation throughout the years.
Funny, sexy and at times heart-wrenching, Aoife McMahon’s beautiful Irish tones perfectly bring this story to life.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie – Narrated by David Suchet
For many of us, David Suchet has been the voice embodying Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective creation Hercule Poirot through the long-running ITV series.
He steps back into that role to narrate Death on the Nile – a wonderfully reassuring listening experience of one of Christie’s most famous murder mysteries uncovering who has shot Linnet Ridgeway through the head, upsetting an opulent wedding cruise down the River Nile.
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton – Narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt
Alain de Botton is best known for his self-help School of Life books, but he has been known to venture into novel mode. Thankfully so, when it results in novels like The Course of Love.
Read by the rich tones of Julian Rhind-Tutt, de Botton takes us through the life and relationship of Rabih and Kirsten, not just when they meet and fall in love, but through the story of modern marriage and their regularly occurring problems.
This book isn’t just a great listen; it’s full of unique insights that will force you to think about and discuss your relationship with your partner.
Audiobooks for Family-Friendly Journeys
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – Narrated by Stephen Fry
This classic series captured the hearts of readers of all ages when it was first released over 25 years ago and remains just as fresh and captivating today.
National treasure Stephen Fry brings his considerable and unique vocal charms to this tale of a poor orphaned boy whose life is about to change forever when the doormat of his Aunt and Uncle’s suburban house is consumed by strange-looking envelopes addressed to him.
This tale will enrapture people in your car of all ages, no matter how long you’re on the road (the books are certainly long enough to see you through even the longest road trip).
Wonder by R.J. Palacio – Narrated by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl and Kate Rudd
Simultaneously one of the most heart-rending and uplifting books I’ve read, Wonder tells the story of Auggie, a ten-year-old who wants nothing more than to be an ordinary kid.
“My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
What a heartbreaking first line! What follows is a beautiful tale that’s brilliantly acted (alert: it will leave you dabbing at your eyes with Kleenex).
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – Narrated by Nick Offerman
The rich imagery of Mark Twain’s writing is brought to life by the many vocal talents of Nick Offerman, famously Ron Swanson in Parks & Recreation, as they combine to transport you back to Mississippi in the 19th century.
Here, you meet Tom Sawyer, a mischievous schoolboy who falls in love and gets up to no good with another famous Twain creation, Huckleberry Finn.
Matilda by Roald Dahl – Narrated by Kate Winslet
Matilda has always been my favourite tale in the considerable canon of Roald Dahl, subsequently brought to life through the film and Tim Minchin musical, this beautifully told version is voiced by Kate Winslet.
Matilda is the world’s biggest bookworm who hates her parents and is sent to the Trunchbull Academy, overseen by the forbidding headteacher of the same name. She finds pockets of relief throughout the gloom, showing her how wonderful life could be.
It is a lovely tale of hope against the odds.
Audiobooks for Adventure Seekers’ Road Trip
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – Narrated by Philip Franklin
Into the Wild is a tragic tale that tells the story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who gave $25,000 to charity, abandoned his possessions, and hitchhiked to Alaska before walking alone to the wildlands of Mount McKinley.
Without giving away any spoilers, there’s no happy ending to this compelling story.
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – Narrated by Fred Sanders
Christopher McDougall asked himself a simple question, “Why does my foot hurt?” and embarked on a remarkable journey to find a tribe of the world’s greatest and least well-known distance runners to learn the secrets.
What he discovers will change the way you think about running and engage your mind to help you realise that finding happiness could be easier than you think.
No Barriers by Erik Weihenmayer and Buddy Levy – Narrated by Holter Graham and Bob Woodruff
Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to climb Mount Everest’s summit. Once he descended, his guide told him, “Don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do.”
As if ascending to the summit of the world’s highest peak wasn’t enough, this incredible tale tells how Erik responded to that challenge.
This tale tells of how Erik led blind Tibetan teenagers on expeditions, helped injured shoulders find their way home after war, adopted a child from Nepal and solo kayaked the deadly whitewater of the Grand Canyon. In other words, it is the most inspirational story you’re likely to hear.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing – Narrated by Simon Prebble
In August 1914, as Europe set itself alight with one of history’s most destructive wars, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic.
More than a year later, it still hadn’t reached its destination and was crushed by ice.
This new modern retelling of the survival of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men across the world’s most forbidding and trek overland is an incredible account of indefatigable spirit.
Audiobooks for Self-Discovery Road Trips
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Narrated by Elizabeth Gilbert
This raw, unabashed book by Elizabeth Gilbert tells the story of the breakup of her marriage, a turbulent love affair and how she emerges to find three things she realises she’s been missing. Pleasure, devotion and balance.
Read by the author, this is a beautiful tale of self-discovery and her journey to finding inner peace and happiness.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – Narrated by Jeremy Irons
This beautiful, simple story follows a Spanish shepherd boy named Santiago who journeys from his Andalusian home to Egypt in search of the riches buried in the Pyramids of Giza.
The story takes in meetings with a rich cast of characters, each of whom helps him on his quest. I love this coming-of-age tale, story of travel and lesson about the importance of following our dreams.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Narrated by Laurel Lefkow
Aged just 22, Cheryl Strayed had lost the meaning of life. She was reeling from the grief of losing her mother, with her family stretched far and wide and her marriage ending.
Four years later, she chose to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
This unbelievable memoir – and one of the best non-fiction audiobooks for a road trip you can treat yourself to – is a heartbreaking story of grief and loss to finding herself through her 1,100-mile solo trek.
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel – Narrated by Sanjeev Bhaskar
Pi, a 16-year-old boy, is one of the only survivors from a sunken cargo ship bobbing around in the Pacific Ocean with only a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, a female orangutan, and a 450 lb tiger for company.
An astonishing tale of solitude, hopelessness, survival, and a surprising ending follows. And I love how Sanjeev Bhaskar lends his comedic talents to telling Pi’s story – it certainly adds to the tale.
Tips for Listening to Audiobooks on Your Road Trip
- I strongly recommend downloading audiobooks at home before hitting the road. You don’t want your compelling story interrupted by patchy phone reception or drain your data allowance by streaming the books using a cellular connection.
- Most modern cars have interactive entertainment systems that allow you to navigate your entertainment apps on the move easily. Use a car-friendly mobile app for easy navigation that your passenger can do for you or you can control with voice commands.
- Plan your comfort and rest breaks around the end of chapters or significant plot points when on the road. This will stop you from breaking the story’s flow and give you the chance to process or discuss what you’ve heard with your companions.