Profile of an American road trip: Where we go, what we eat, what we spend

A traveler enjoys a clear night at a desert campground in California. It's the sort of attraction that likely helped the Golden State in the road trip study.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Nearly 75% of Americans will take a road trip this year, and California is considered the preferred destination. Alaska and Florida finished second and third, respectively.

Those are among the findings of the 2017 Road Trip Survey of more than 1,300 U.S. drivers. For the purposes of the study, a road trip was considered to be any vehicle-based vacation of at least 200 miles.

Other takeaways from the study

Where we go

  • 25% indicated that visiting a national park was on their itinerary
  • 20% said they would be doing some sort of cross-country trip

What we like to eat

  • 39% prefer eating the food for which the local area is known
  • 29% prefer fast food
  • 11% prefer diner food
  • 31% consider chips to be their favorite road trip snack
  • 15% said beef jerky is their go-to snack food

What makes the trip comfortable

  • 45% of respondents indicated an SUV is the preferred vehicle for trips (only 3.8% cited a sports car for such a trip)
  • 51% said ample leg room was the most-important vehicle feature on trip
  • 45% said the sound system was critical

Our preferred traveling companions

  • 58% are willing to spend more than 20 hours with their significant other in a car
  • 19% are willing to spend only up to six hours in the car with their significant other
  • 4% indicated they would most want to go on a road trip with either of their parents
  • 6% said they preferred to go on a road trip alone than with a sibling

What we spend

  • 49% consider hotels their largest expense on long trips
  • 17% spent more than $1,000 on their trips
  • 48% were planning to pay for everything by credit card

Methodology: The survey, sponsored by the GM BuyPower Card, surveyed 1,314 licensed drivers 25-55 years old


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