Best & Worst States for Summer Road Trips (2024)

Professor Jerry Agrusa
Professor Jerry Agrusa

This story was originally posted on June 24 on WalletHub.

Do you have any budget-saving tips for those looking to hit the open road?

For those traveling this summer try to book their accommodations as early as possible.

In addition, try to find some locations that may be a little “off the beaten path” which may not be as crowded as the main tourist destinations and possibly will cost a little less. Sometimes you can find some real gems.

Do you think more people will take road trips this summer than in previous years?

If the recent Memorial Holiday weekend (2024) is any indication of this summer’s air travel an NPR report stated that TSA reported

‘On Friday, Transportation Security Administration officers screened 2,951,163 passengers at checkpoints nationwide — breaking the agency's record for most travelers screened in a single day.” (NPR news May 25, 2024).

I believe when travelers have a choice, they will select driving over air travel.

Travelers especially families traveling with children will be electing to travel by car if possible, to not deal with the airport crowds and possible plane cancellations or delays. In addition, the price of airline tickets has increased substantially over the past few years and the economic cost in the purchasing of tickets will be a factor.

With 18% of Americans saying they would prefer to take a road trip rather than fly in 2024, why are summer road trips becoming a more popular option, than flying?

There are several reasons why Americans choose to drive instead of flying, but here are three factors that come to mind.

Cost- the dramatic price increase of airline tickets is a major factor in why Americans will take more summer road trips. The price of plane tickets has increased significantly over the past few years and the additional costs of baggage fees and seat selection fees are major factors to consider. The added expense to order food during the flight or at the airport is an additional factor that is pushing people to selecting driving over flying.

Furthermore, the post-pandemic scarcity of reasonably priced rental vehicles at travel destinations and their increased costs is an economic push to road travel in a personal vehicle.

Control – travelers want more control over their vacations and driving their own motor vehicle is providing that control. Travelers who choose to drive can select the route they want to travel, the timeline of the trip, and where to visit, stop, and shop on the trip.

Delays- American Travelers do not want to waste their vacation time waiting at an airport because of the flight delays and flight cancellations which have been increasing at our nation’s airports. These delays are caused by technology challenges with airline systems failing, staff shortages at airports or just weather delays. Recently, according to “FlightAware” (an online platform that tracks flight delays and cancelations) there were “7008 total delays within, into, or out of the United States and 969 cancellations on Thursday, May 30, 2024, and 7,327 total delays within, into, or out of the United States with 655 cancellations on May 31, 2024”. The total airline delays and cancellations in the United States for the last two days of May 2024 were over 15,000, and more travelers are choosing to avoid these challenges and electing to drive.

With the airlines these days flying their airplanes at “full capacity” when there are cancellations or delays it can take days and up to a week to have all the passengers rebooked and flown to their destination. The news videos of delayed passengers sleeping in airports for days on end are reminiscent of horror movies. Travelers are more comfortable traveling in their personal vehicles to avoid air travel delays and the anguish they cause.