Travelers are back to exploring the world. They’re revisiting bucket lists, booking accommodations and crafting out-of-office messages for when it’s time to unplug. Some are booking flights and others are making sure car maintenance is set as they prepare to hit the road. Road trips are a travel trend that is here to stay. From their boost in popularity in 2020, today these trips remain one of the most enduring vacation options for 2023. In light of this, we’ve put together a look at five key trends expected to shape ‘road-trip season’ over the next year.
One beautiful aspect of road trips is that the trip can be just as exciting as the destination itself! Road trippers are empowered to make the journey their own and discover interesting places along the way – like Stuckey’s. The hospitality and tourism brand is known for their nostalgic roadside store and gas station, famous for their novelties, souvenirs and treats like their pecan log rolls. (Which I can personally attest to as being very delicious!)
In the words of Stuckey’s Corporation CEO, Stephanie Stuckey: “We’re seeing a revival of the road trip in this country.”
Listen to an interview including Stephanie Stuckey on episode 324 of our podcast from the 2023 Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureau Annual Conference.
Here are five road trip trends to keep an eye out for in 2023:
Technology plays a key role.
Conversations around emerging technologies and how we can best leverage them are becoming more commonplace. Concepts like artificial intelligence (AI) are being closely examined and creating a buzz in the travel and tourism industry. Examples of how technology is impacting travel include:
- Technology equipped in modern-day vehicles are changing how travelers navigate the roadways.
- AI-generated itineraries
- Attractions and businesses using geofencing marketing.
Outdoor experiences are popular.
Outdoor attractions entice travelers to visit a destination that’s away from the hustle and bustle of larger city areas. These are perfect for road trips, as they offer a wonderful opportunity to also explore nearby areas on the way. Exploring the outdoors can also go hand-in-hand with sustainability practices, which is also an industry trend across the board.
Small towns are the new “it” destinations.
Visitation to small towns and cities are on the rise, especially for travelers opting to discover a town’s individuality.
Sandy White, President and CEO of Alliance for Dade in Georgia, says of small towns: “Small towns are seeing a resurgence. Even though large cities are great and will always get tourists, I think people feel safe going into a smaller community because there’s less crowds.”
Sandy also suggests that visiting small towns could create a sense of nostalgia for travelers: “[Visitors] can discover the things that maybe they grew up with as children, and they can reminisce and share those things with their children.”[BL2]
Road tripping will happen despite rising costs.
As we move into summer road trip season, budgeting will be an important task for road trip travelers. Especially since AAA predicts gas prices will hit a national average of $3 per gallon this summer.
Kat Hoyt, President and CEO of the Darien-McInstosh Chamber & Visitors Center in Georgia, says this is an important trend for destinations and marketers to be mindful of:
“With rising costs of everything, we all need to have a variety of options for our visitors – from highlighting everything that is free to also pointing out special deals and assisting [visitors] with planning their trips, to make them as affordable as possible.”
Collaborating with nearby destinations.
We love bringing multiple partners and DMOs together to craft itineraries encouraging visitors to venture into neighboring counties or cities. This type of experience is ideal for road trippers. They can explore at their own pace, knowing they’ve still got more adventure in store.
Steven Schumacher, President of the Cartersville-Bartow Convention & Visitors Bureau, explained in episode 324 how the city of Cartersville partners with the city’s four museums and the historic downtown area to showcase what the city can offer. The city even coined itself “Georgia’s Museum City.” This encourages visitors to stay for an overnight or long weekend in Cartersville.
Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureau’s travelblazers program recognizes community destination development projects exemplifying multi-partner collaboration and creative product development that demonstrates ‘tourism at the economic development table.’
I encourage you to check out those travelblazers to see how they created these exciting collaborations throughout the state of Georgia!