Road Trips Top Summer Travel Plans
Updated: October 11, 2023
AAA Travel Editors
Americans are making travel plans again, though cautiously and more spur-of-the-moment, according to AAA.
Road Trips and Top Destinations
With travel restrictions lifting but social distancing still recommended, it's no surprise that 97 percent of summer trips were by car. That's up from an average of 87 percent over the past five years. Road trips allow travelers to make their own schedule and customize stops based on their comfort level and interests. For families, especially those with small children, it's an easier and less expensive way to travel.This summer, road trippers should plan their travel in advance using —a tradition that has guided generations of road trippers with paper and digital maps. Travelers looking for inspiration can search pre-planned road trip routes at AAA.com/RoadTrips. For more tips on how to plan a road trip, see "Rule the Road: How AAA Members Can Save Money and Road Trip Smarter" at AAA.com/TravelTips.
“Beyond routing your map in advance, it is important to book hotels and plan out gas and food stops. Also, keep in mind that some national parks and attractions have capacity limits, so if there is a must-do activity on your trip, you'll want to make arrangements for these in advance,” added Twidale.
Big cities that typically draw large crowds won't be as popular this summer, based on TripTik destination searches made earlier this year. Orlando dropped from the No. 1 most-searched destination to No. 8, while Denver jumped from No. 10 to No. 1. Based on TripTik.AAA.com searches from March 15 to June 14, these are the top 10 most-searched destinations:
2. Las Vegas
3. Los Angeles
6. Portland, Ore.
7. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
9. San Diego
Road Trips and Traffic
While the top 20 metropolitan areas in the United States will have less traffic congestion than usual this summer, some states could see traffic rise to normal levels, according to an analysis by INRIX in collaboration with AAA.
"While the amount people drive is still low for this time of year, we know millions will be taking road trips in the months ahead. The good news is, the congestion they will encounter is nowhere near what we typically see in a summer,” said Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at INRIX.
INRIX predicts that these states are least likely to reach normal traffic congestion: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Washington.
Save on Gas Prices
Before you take a road trip, figure out your fuel budget ahead of time with AAA's . Members also can save up to 5 cents a gallon by enrolling in the Fuel Rewards Program at AAA.com/Shell.
Booking Your Hotel
AAA Travel Data shows that as destinations reopen, these will be the top 10 most popular hotel destinations:
1. Las Vegas
3. San Diego
4. New York City
10. San Antonio
AAA recommends that travelers planning a road trip with an overnight stay look for hotels with a AAA Diamond designation. (For extra confidence, look for properties displaying AAA's Inspected Clean.)
“In light of COVID-19, AAA revised the inspection process used in its Diamonds Program,” said Twidale. “The new criteria reflects best practices for protecting the health of hotel guests, employees and AAA inspectors.”
Prior to your hotel stay, AAA recommends calling ahead and asking about any restrictions or changes to the check-in process. It’s likely that the hotel has reduced the number of times guests have face-to-face interactions with other guests and hotel staff. When you check into your room, remember to wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes. Pay special attention to surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, faucets and remote controls.
Know Before You Go
No matter how a traveler gets to their final destination, AAA recommends considering these points before you go:
• Check the CDC’s Covid-19 data tracker, municipal and state health departments and local news for updates on coronavirus cases and continue to do so while on the road.
• Visit TripTik.AAA.com for the latest routing information.
• Pack face coverings, gloves and cleaning supplies—like disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer—and a thermometer.
• Take all necessary travel documentation, including health insurance cards.
AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the . To join, visit .
AAA Travel Editors
AAA Travel Editors are AAA Travel Experts.