Nearly 80 percent of American adults say they will take a road trip this summer despite the cost of gas.
WalletHub released its report on 2023’s Best & Worst States for Summer Road Trips to enable travelers to plan a fun and wallet-friendly road trip. The personal finance website compared the 50 U.S. states based on 32 key metrics. Data includes number of attractions, road conditions and costs.
Virginia is the 15th best state for a road trip this summer.
No. 1 is Texas, followed by New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Idaho.
The worst states for a road trip are Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii and Montana.
California has the highest number of scenic byways with 66, which is 22 times higher than Connecticut and Delaware who have only three each.
The lowest daily price for camping is in Mississippi at $36.86, which is 3.5 times lower than in California where a day of camping costs $129.19.
Experts provided WalletHub with commentary on budget saving tips for hitting the road this year.
“Look for ‘the road less traveled’: it is likely to be another record-breaking summer for travel so finding places that are not in demand is key,” Virginia Tech Professor Nancy G. McGehee, who is co-editor of the Journal of Travel Research, said. “Small mountain towns, quaint seaside villages, and other off-the-beaten-path spots could result in lower costs. If you are willing to take the risk, since it is too late to book ahead for good deals, it is now time to take the last-minute approach. Rolling into a Mom-and-Pop cottage or locally owned retro motel and asking for a deal if there is availability can sometimes save you a lot! Of course, camping is always a good value if you have the right equipment. Shopping at grocery stores for dinner instead of restaurants can also save a lot! A cooler in the car and a kitchenette in your accommodation is a great return on investment. Check at local tourism/visitor centers for free or inexpensive attractions. They often have package deals as well.”
Dr. Daniel J. Findley, associate director of the Institute for Transportation Research and Education and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the North Carolina State University, said to make sure your vehicle is in working order, including tires, to ensure optimal fuel efficiency. He warned against excessive speeding, which also worsens fuel economy.
“You should also plan an efficient route that minimizes extra miles and think about the time of day and the day of the week you will be traveling through popular or congested areas (if you are sitting still in traffic, you are getting 0 miles per gallon). Another great budget tip is to try to minimize the miles you need to drive – can you do a walking tour of the area you are visiting or maybe there is free or low-cost public transportation available in that location? Along those same lines, make sure you are realistic about how far you can drive in the amount of time you have available – you do not want to spend all of your time in the vehicle when you should be enjoying the sites you went to visit,” Findley said.
A surge in air travel, according to Dr. Robert M. O’Halloran, professor and director of School of Hospitality Leadership at East Carolina University, is evidence that people are ready to get out and travel this summer.
“I expect road trips to be on the rise. The highways will be busy, so think about when you drive and when you want to stop for the day. Again, regional travel and local tourism has become more attractive, and communities are excited to have tourists visit,” O’Halloran said.
Professor Rod Warnick of University of Massachusetts at Amherst said research supports Americans want to travel and domestic travel is more popular than ever.
“Households want and strongly desire a return to ‘normal’ and ‘authentic’ travel planning and vacations in Summer 2023,” Warnick said
McGehee said local officials can enhance safety and promote tourism by sharing information on interstate information boards and keeping the information up to date.
“Partnering with map platforms like Waze and Google Maps to assure accurate information is also useful. Promoting shoulder seasons (for the US that’s Spring and Fall for most places) and highlighting less-busy destinations are great ways to spread the impacts (both good and less wonderful). But our tourism professionals know this! We are fortunate to have great DMOs (destination management organizations) all across the US, and they are working hard to both promote and plan for guests,” McGehee said.
Dr. Kevin R. Roberts, a professor and interim department head, as well as director of Undergraduate Program in Hospitality Management at Kansas State University, said planning for safety this summer should start before the busy travel season begins.
“But, as these busier times draw near, local officials can work with their hospitality and entertainment operators and law enforcement in their local areas to have an active presence in tourist areas to deter crime. Most destination management organizations and local officials already work closely with the partners to ensure the best possible experience for their visitors,” Roberts said.