East County News Service
September 19, 2020 (San Diego) – A new report by seoClarity on changing travel patterns in the United States finds that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Americans are taking more long-distance road trips, even while air travel has dropped sharply. Road trips by Californians have risen sharply—and people in the San Diego region took the ninth most road trips of 350 major metropolitan areas studied, logging 73,900 long-distance road trips in 2020, an 86.1% rise over 2019.
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, the report concludes.
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 states 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.
The analysis found that in California, total travel has decreased by 50.0% percent since last year. Nevertheless, long distance road trips have increased by 53.1% over the same time period. Here is a summary of the data for California:
- Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 53.1%
- Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 1,146,135
- Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 748,611
- Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -50.0%
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Percentage change in long-distance road trips from 2019: 37.6%
- Average daily long-distance road trips 2020: 11,961,849
- Average daily long-distance road trips 2019: 8,690,433
- Percentage change in all travel from 2019: -32.7%
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on seoClarity’s website: https://www.seoclarity.net/blog/road-trip-research