Travel

Family travel trends & the most popular summer road trip destinations revealed

Mom and kids looking at map on family road trip

Nearly 100 million Americans plan to take family vacations this year, according to a recent study from AAA Travel. 

Spring and summer road trips will top many of these families’ vacation plans, with just over half of families planning to travel by car. AAA's research looked at 2019's most popular destination types, plus some of the most popular road trip routes. To help inspire would-be road trippers, AAA’s travel editors have also curated more than 450 pre-planned road trips across the U.S. and Canada, from Alaska and Hawai‘i to New England and the Gulf Coast.

AAA's research results

Vacationers say their trips will include ...

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Taking a road trip

53%

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Visiting a national or state park

37%

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Visiting another country

32%

Visiting an amusement park

26%

More than half the families who said they're taking at least one vacation said they'll pack up their cars for a road trip, while about a third said they plan to visit an international destination. The study further discovered that families are taking more trips each year—29% of families are planning to take three or more vacations in the next 12 months. Two-thirds of all family travelers plan on a summer getaway, while just under half (45%) are making plans to travel as a family this spring. Gen Xers are more likely to be planning a family vacation (55%) than millennials (35%) and baby boomers (38%).

Regionally, travelers in the South are more likely to be making plans for a family road trip this year (62%) than travelers in the Northeast (35%). Families in the West are the most likely to be visiting an international destination (47%), while Northeastern families are the most likely to be going on a guided tour (25%).

Top 5 routes for summer road trips

These are the most popular routes for summer road travel, according to AAA member road trip routing data.

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota

5. 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 trees. The area packs so much scenery into a small area that it's become a mecca for motorcyclists and nature lovers. Explore AAA's Black Hills road trip itinerary.

Linn Cove Viaduct, part of the Blue Ridge Parkway

4. The 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. Explore AAA's Blue Ridge Parkway road trip itinerary.

The Green Mountains in Vermont

3. 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. Explore AAA's Northern New England road trip itinerary.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

2. Northern California & the 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. Explore AAA's Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast road trip itinerary.

Zion National Park

1. Las Vegas to National Parks

Any road trip through the desert southwest is full of unique twists and turns, whether you stay 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. Explore AAA's Las Vegas to National Parks road trip itinerary.

Road trip tips

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Be prepared

For passengers, pack books, games, or music for the ride, and a pillow. Bring information on your destination to keep kids and any other passengers entertained. Pack healthy snacks for kids, especially if you can’t stop for a full meal while traveling.

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Safety first

Drivers should plan to stop about every 100 miles or 2 hours to remain alert. Make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, and that small children are secured in safety seats. AAA members renting a car through Hertz can request a free infant car seat or toddler booster seat.

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Do your research

To make the most of your trip, plan your road trip route ahead of time using a tool like AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. Be sure to download the Auto Club App to help you find AAA Diamond hotels and restaurants, gas prices, and fun stops along the way.

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Be road trip ready

Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility for any needed maintenance before heading out. Always carry a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, and extra water. Learn about AAA Approved Repair.

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Looking for the perfect road trip?

AAA’s travel editors have curated more than 450 pre-planned road trips across the U.S. and Canada. Itineraries include must-see sights, attraction information, and AAA Diamond hotels and restaurants along the way.

See the road trips

Rent with Hertz & save

Prevent wear and tear to your own vehicle by taking your road trip in a rental car. AAA members save up to 20% on a Hertz rental in the U.S. and Canada. Plus, you can request a free infant car seat or toddler booster seat.

Rent with Hertz

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Information taken from "AAA: Nearly 100 Million Americans Will Embark on Family Vacations This Year," American Automobile Association, March 21, 2019.

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