COLUMBUS — As spring officially begins, families are gearing up for travel adventures with their loved ones. According to a recent AAA Travel survey, nearly 100 million Americans – 4 in 10 U.S. adults – are planning to take a family vacation in 2019, slightly more than last year. Spring and summer road trips will top many families’ vacation plans.
Summer is the most popular season for family travel, with 68 percent of family travelers planning a summer getaway.
Spring is the second most popular travel season, with nearly half (45 percent) of family travelers planning a spring getaway.
Regardless of the season, the great American road trip remains the major draw for families; more than half (53 percent) of family travelers expect to pack up their cars for a road trip this year.
Other family travelers will visit a national or state park (37 percent), an international destination (32 percent), or a theme or amusement park (26 percent), or sail away on an ocean cruise (21 percent).
“The great American road trip is still one of the best ways for families to relax and reconnect with one another,” said Stacey Barber, executive director, AAA Travel Information & Content. “This is quickly shaping up to be another busy year for family travelers, both on the roadways, as well as other popular travel destinations and attractions.”
Nationally, gas prices have averaged more than a quarter cheaper so far in 2019, compared with the first few months of last year. Ohio’s gas prices have averaged 21 cents less than the first few months of 2018.
Prices usually increase during the spring and summer, as refineries switch to making the more expensive summer blend of gasoline, and demand increases. Last year, Ohio’s gas prices peaked just before Memorial Day with an average of $2.91 on May 25. Yet, road travel remained strong that weekend and throughout the summer. AAA expects another busy spring and summer travel season, regardless of the gas prices.
Top Five Road Trips
To help inspire would-be road trippers, AAA’s travel editors have curated more than 450 pre-planned road trips, available at AAA.com/RoadTrip. The top five routes for summer travel, according to AAA member road trip routing data, are as follows:
Las Vegas to National Parks — Any road trip through the desert southwest is full of unique twists and turns, regardless of whether you remain on the interstate or head off along enticing back roads. Long the destination for gold prospectors and other dreamers, the mountains and valleys of the Arizona, Nevada and Utah deserts today provide a glimpse of mankind’s historical interaction with the area’s fantastic natural landscapes.
Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast — The trip begins in California’s Central Valley, meanders through high elevation forests and snakes up the awe-inspiring Pacific Coast. Not to be rushed, this extraordinary route is winding, narrow and flanked by the ocean and majestic redwood trees. As you make your way past beach towns and shifting sand dunes, you’ll find constant stops are necessary to photograph the stunning terrain.
Northern New England — You’ll travel the backroads of New England on this trek through the Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Quaint country inns, steepled churches and weathered barns—some predating the Revolutionary War — dot the roadside.
Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina — If any drive merited the term “scenic,” it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway. Begun in 1935 to create a transportation link between Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it was finally completed in 1983. This winding road was designed to maximize enjoyment of the mountainous terrain, so heed the posted speed limit.
Black Hills, South Dakota — This picturesque route winds through South Dakota’s Black Hills, taking you from one of America’s best-known landmarks, Mount Rushmore, past granite spires and into historic mining towns nestled in valleys thick with Ponderosa pine. The area packs so much scenery into a small area that it’s become a mecca for motorcyclists and anyone else who loves the outdoors.