Americans Return to Road Trips

More travelers drove to vacation spots this summer because of the pandemic, a survey finds.

September 02, 2020

SAN DIEGO—The great American road trip is back, courtesy of the pandemic. Last week, Generali Global Assistance (GGA) released its “Revival of the Great American Road Trip” white paper, which looks at how the pandemic is creating a resurgence that may bring road trips back to the level of popularity they experienced from the 1930s until the 1980s. The paper features both historical context and current insights, as well as the latest findings of Generali Global Assistance’s Future of Travel Survey.

“Travelers are taking to the road this summer in order to remain socially distanced as they travel to their summer getaway,” said Chris Carnicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance, in a press release. “While 44% of respondents from the 11 countries included in our Future of Travel survey said they would fly on a plane in 2021, 51% still indicated that the car would be their main mode of transport. [This means] travelers may be more likely to dust off their Michelin guide and begin looking at what sites they can drive to in 2021, versus faraway exotic destinations they favored prior to the pandemic.”

“Revival of the Great American Road Trip” looked at both the historical context that led to the rise and eventual fall of the road trip after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 revolutionized the airline industry and made travel by air more accessible.

The Future of Travel survey found that 72% of summer travelers are planning to travel by car to their summer getaway. This pent-up urge to travel combined with the current air travel and border restrictions create an ideal environment for a road trip resurgence.

“As people search for quick getaways and safe travel options outside of air and hotels, we've seen a renaissance in road travel. The beauty of RV travel is that you’re not restricted by a glowing seatbelt sign in seat 24B. On the road, opportunity is at your fingertips and you can spend time exploring all hidden gems between Point A and Point B that you’d miss from 30,000 feet above,” said Jeff Cavins, CEO of Outdoorsy, who contributed insights to the white paper.