Transport Cars

The Great American Road Trip Heads West This Summer

@djpeltier

Aug 20, 2014 6:00 am

Skift Take

The fact that road trips this summer are heading westward likely is good news for hotels and tourism in affected dates. We suspect that last-minute and mobile trends must be impacting same-day hotel bookings, as well.

— Dan Peltier

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Logan Brumm  / flickr.com

The Grand Canyon is undoubtedly on lots of road trip itineraries this summer. Logan Brumm / flickr.com


Each summer, millions of U.S. travelers set out on the great American road trip, traversing the iconic Route 66, admiring the Grand Canyon, and figuring out whose faces are on Mount Rushmore.

But this year, stopping at sites and cities along the east coast’s I-95 highway don’t appear to be popping up on many itineraries.

Roadtrippers looked at data from three million road trips planned on its site this summer and found the west coast dominates the top destination cities for road trips. All but two of the top 10 destinations are in a western states, with Nashville joining the top ten this year at number eight and Chicago sitting at number nine. New York City fell out of the top ten this year.

San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas are the most popular cities to visit, and places like Portland, Oregon, and Denver also made the list.

“We have noted extremely good pickup around ‘local’ focused travel articles and since Nashville and Portland both tend to focus on a more ‘organic’ travel experience we expect to see more of this into 2015,” said Joshua Smibert, a Roadtrippers spokesman. “Similar cities like Louisville, KY, Austin TX and other smaller cities also saw a gain in placement.”

This occurs as I-5 (Interstate 5) from San Francisco to Los Angeles is the most popular route planned on the site. New York City to Los Angeles has been the second most popular route planned.

“We’re not sure why trips are seeming to skew to the west coast, but we’ve definitely seen west coast cities increase in popularity,” he said. “This doesn’t mean east coast cities aren’t in the top 20, but visits to these cities haven’t been planned on our site as much compared to last year.”

On The Road

Among Roadtrippers’ users, data show 91% of trips were taken in an owned automobile, 5% in RVs, 3% in rental cars and the remaining 1% took place in motorcycles and other modes of transportation.

For trips that include hotel stays, 57% of people planning trips intend to stay one night, 27% plan to stay two nights, and 21% stay would stay three or more nights.

A 2013 Phocuswright survey of 5,000 road travelers found 20% of travelers don’t book their lodging in advance. This shows some travelers still see road trips as free-spirited adventures, waiting to see what the open road has in store before making any lodging commitments.

The percentage of people who actually drive from coast to coast is on the lower end of the road trip spectrum as only 9% of travelers indicated they drove between 1,000 to 2,000 miles on their most recent trip, according to Chicke Fitzgerald, founder and CEO of Solutionz. Road trips between 76 to 250 miles represented the largest percentage of trips at 36%.

“Cross country road trips represent a very small portion of the drive market, says Fitzgerald, who adds that more road trips are now made for business or life purposes.

Road trip travelers spent $171 billion on leisure travel road trips so far this year, said Fitzgerald, with people spending an average of $1,114 on each trip.

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