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15 Cities With the Most People Taking Road Trips

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Outdoorsy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for travel and tourism businesses. The leisure and hospitality and the travel and transportation industries have consistently been reported among the sectors hardest hit by the effects of the coronavirus.

Between shifting public health restrictions, travelers’ concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, and ongoing challenges filling jobs, it has been difficult for businesses in these fields to return to full capacity and stay there. According to the U.S. Travel Association, major metrics like travel spending and hotel bookings only approached pre-pandemic levels this past December — nearly two years after the pandemic first reached the U.S.

Despite this, some forms of travel have remained resilient and even grown in popularity as a result of COVID-19. Among these are road trips, defined here as trips between 100 and 500 miles made in a personal vehicle. During the pandemic, road trippers have found that they can still take vacations while avoiding other concerns like greater potential exposure to the virus or the high volume of flight cancellations due to the omicron surge at the end of 2021.

In 2019, the number of long-distance road trips averaged around 60 million per week, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. During the last two years, however, that figure exceeded 72 million per week on average.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. To determine the locations with the most people taking road trips compared to pre-pandemic levels, researchers at Outdoorsy calculated the change in 100-500 mile trips from 2019 to 2021. In the event of a tie, the location with the greater total number of long-distance trips in 2021 was ranked higher. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included.

Here are the metropolitan areas with the most people taking road trips.

15. St. Louis, MO-IL

St. Louis
CrackerClips Stock Media / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +31.8%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 30,515,274
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 23,161,154

14. Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA-NC

Virginia Beach Virginia Traffic
Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +32.0%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 15,593,669
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 11,815,263

13. Nashville–Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

Nashville, Tennessee
jdross75 / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +32.4%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 21,741,652
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 16,421,601

12. Tucson, AZ

Tucson
Chris Rubino / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +34.5%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 11,727,928
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 8,718,777

11. Austin–Round Rock–Georgetown, TX

Austin, Texas
Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +41.6%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 17,059,635
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 12,046,893

10. Tulsa, OK

Tulsa Oklahoma
Valiik30 / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +44.0%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 11,066,206
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 7,687,292

9. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

Memphis Tennessee
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +46.3%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 20,781,727
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 14,202,165

8. Miami–Fort Lauderdale–Pompano Beach, FL

GagliardiImages / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +46.6%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 52,295,821
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 35,678,662

7. Detroit–Warren–Dearborn, MI

Detroit, Michigan
Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +47.0%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 39,502,998
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 26,871,284

6. San Francisco–Oakland–Berkeley, CA

San Francisco, California
IM_photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +50.4%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 31,850,588
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 21,178,312

5. San Diego–Chula Vista–Carlsbad, CA

Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +54.5%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 27,146,848
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 17,571,270

4. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +62.4%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 14,867,602
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 9,154,039

3. Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, NC-SC

Charlotte North Carolina
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +63.0%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 36,644,756
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 22,478,685

2. Raleigh–Cary, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +70.1%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 16,169,102
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 9,508,399

1. New Orleans–Metairie, LA

New Orleans
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Change in long-distance road trips (2019–2021): +94.2%
  • Total long-distance road trips (2021): 14,274,908
  • Total long-distance road trips (2019): 7,351,550

Methodology

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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Trips by Distance dataset, which defines a trip as any movement outside of the home that includes a stay at another location of at least 10 minutes.

This dataset includes all modes of transportation; however, 95 percent of trips between 100 and 500 miles are made in personal vehicles.

To determine the locations with the most people taking road trips compared with pre-pandemic levels, researchers calculated the change in 100-500 mile trips from 2019 to 2021. In the event of a tie, the location with the greater total number of 100-500 mile trips in 2021 was ranked higher. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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