NEW YORK — Driving on the highway might save time, but about half of Americans prefer to go through small towns on road trips. A survey of 2,000 drivers also reveals that 42 percent worry about driving in the dark — making it a scarier prospect than foreign (41%) or unfamiliar roads (37%) for most respondents.
Even though 40 percent think they’re the best driver they know, 61 percent claim they would only go on a road trip if they didn’t have to drive. They’re also only willing to take a journey lasting about seven and a half hours, on average.
The lost art of the road trip
The poll, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of EconomyBookings.com, found that the typical person has taken about seven road trips in their lifetime. More than three-quarters (78%) of Americans have found hidden gems along the road that they wouldn’t have seen if they were traveling another way.
In fact, more than one-third (35%) prefer a mix of both planned and unexpected stops, with the most popular destinations being restaurants (46%), historic locations (40%), and roadside attractions (38%).
Almost one-third (32%) prefer to listen to a curated playlist — and although 40 percent feel the driver should get to choose what comes out of the speakers, 42 percent end up taking turns with their passengers anyway.
“Road trips have always been an important part of American culture and history, so it comes as no surprise that this country’s car rental industry adapted so quickly to the pandemic,” says EconomyBookings.com CEO Alen Baibekov in a statement. “For example, U.S.-based brands Enterprise and Alamo were the first in the world to implement a ‘Complete Clean Pledge’ that includes cleaning and sanitizing every car prior to being delivered.”
Freedom behind the wheel
Seventy-four percent of respondents believe the journey is more important than the destination, which may contribute to why 70 percent of people would prefer to rent a car that is different from their current vehicle. One-third of respondents say they’d choose a convertible.
Not only do road trips give people the chance to drive something new, 53 percent think it gives them the chance to travel on their own schedule.
According to respondents, other perks of road tripping include bonding time with family and friends (51%), the opportunity to make stops (48%), and saving money on a more cost-effective method of travel (46%). It turns out that a life partner is also the best road trip partner. More than half the poll (51%) say their partner or spouse is the best person to travel with.
More than three-quarters (76%) would actually choose driving over flying if they knew the drive would be enjoyable.
“With Omicron cases on the rise, many commercial airlines have canceled thousands of flights over the last few months,” Baibekov says. “So, for many people, renting a car was the only way to reach their loved ones and celebrate the winter holidays together.”