Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
The 20 cities that have been taking the most road trips
spotlight AP

The 20 cities that have been taking the most road trips

  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Despite sharp declines in total travel since the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been taking significantly more long-distance road trips than in previous years. COVID-19 took hold during the warmer months and peak travel periods for many Americans, contributing to a more than 30 percent decline in total travel since 2019, according to recently released government data. However, while social distancing measures and remote work have led to a decrease in short-distance trips and a massive 70 percent decline in air travel, the number of miles logged on long-distance road trips has risen dramatically above last year’s numbers.


On average, during the first two weeks of August last year, about 2.5 million people passed through U.S. airports per day. This year, that number was about 700,000. On the other hand, in the first two weeks of August this year, Americans recorded nearly 12 million long-distance (100-500 mile) road trips per day compared to 8.6 million in 2019—a 37.6 percent increase. Such a shift in travel behavior may serve as an example of the “new normal” when it comes to how Americans will travel to more distant destinations.


At the state level, residents from the Mountain West and Southeast have recorded the greatest increases in long-distance road trips compared to 2019. Specifically, travelers from the states of Colorado, North Carolina, and South Carolina have logged the largest increase in long-distance road trips. Conversely, travelers from the Northeast, where initial rates of COVID-19 cases were the highest, have shown the largest declines in long-distance road trips.


To identify the metropolitan areas that have reported the greatest increases in long-distance road trips, researchers at seoClarity analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, calculating the percentage change in the number of 100-500-mile road trips between the first two weeks of August 2020 and the first two weeks of August 2019. The researchers also calculated the average daily number of long-distance trips taken during both time periods, as well as the percentage change in all travel.


For this report, only metropolitan areas with populations of 100,000 or more residents were included. To improve relevance, metros were classified into three cohorts: large (1,000,000 or more), midsize (350,000–999,999), and small (less than 350,000).

As with state-level trends, the largest increases in long-distance road trips have occurred in the Southeastern and Mountain West regions of the U.S., with metros in states such as North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Colorado, and New Mexico leading the way. More frequent long-distance travel by metro residents of Mountain West states may be attributed to lower COVID-19 infection rates in these states. In the case of Southeastern states, where infection rates are higher, residents may feel more inclined to travel due to less restrictive social distancing policies and stay-at-home orders.

Here are the metropolitan areas whose residents have been taking the most long-distance road trips compared to 2019.



Large metros that have been taking the most road trips

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

20. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 62.6%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 234,597
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 144,255
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -29.3%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

19. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 63.8%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 63,874
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 39,001
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -27.5%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

18. St. Louis, MO-IL

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 64.5%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 97,061
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 59,004
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -25.8%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

17. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 64.8%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 53,940
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 32,728
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -29.8%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

16. Richmond, VA

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 65.8%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 62,520
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 37,713
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -33.0%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

15. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 67.1%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 152,041
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 90,964
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -39.7%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

14. Kansas City, MO-KS

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 71.5%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 98,526
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 57,460
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -29.3%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

13. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 73.0%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 89,116
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 51,519
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -50.0%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

12. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 74.6%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 134,975
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 77,311
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -28.1%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

11. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 74.9%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 37,953
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 21,699
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -25.7%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 84.3%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 151,343
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 82,131
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -31.7%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 86.1%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 73,900
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 39,704
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -50.3%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. New Orleans-Metairie, LA

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 91.1%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 35,047
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 18,339
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -36.9%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Tucson, AZ

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 93.9%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 34,467
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 17,775
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -43.3%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 101.9%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 79,018
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 39,139
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -29.0%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 112.2%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 61,573
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 29,019
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -33.9%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 116.8%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 118,564
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 54,693
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -29.4%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 124.0%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 107,520
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 48,006
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -33.5%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 129.8%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 75,287
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 32,760
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -35.0%

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. Raleigh-Cary, NC

  • Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 164.6%
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 56,460
  • Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 21,341
  • Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -53.5%

Methodology & detailed findings

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics report: Trips by Distance. Trips are defined as any movement outside of the home that includes a stay at another location of at least 10 minutes. Trip data include all modes of transportation; however, data from the National Household Travel Survey indicate that approximately 95 percent of trips between 100 and 500 miles are made in personal vehicles. As such, looking only at trips between 100 and 500 miles serves as a reliable indicator of “road trips.”

To determine which locations have been taking the most road trips this year, researchers at seoClarity looked at the percentage change in total 100-500-mile trips (also known as long-distance road trips), comparing the first two weeks of August 2020 to the first two weeks of August 2019. Locations were ordered by the resulting statistic.

Only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included in the analysis. To improve relevance, metros were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Large (1,000,000 or more)
  • Midsize (350,000-999,999)
  • Small (less than 350,000)

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

Sports Breaking News

News Alert