GOSHEN COUNTY – Wyoming’s outdoor amenities and wide-open highways served it well in a recent study – the state received a second-best designation for road trips in the U.S., largely thanks to high marks in cost-effective and safety categories, according to personal-finance website WalletHub.
The Cowboy State ranks first in the nation for lowest price of camping; third for quality of roads; ninth in car thefts per capita; 20th in access to scenic byways; and 26th in average gas prices.
WalletHub lists the No. 1 overall state for road trips in the country as North Carolina; third is Minnesota; fourth, Virginia; and fifth, Texas. On the other side of the spectrum, Rhode Island is ranked last; preceded by Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Arkansas.
In order to determine the rankings, WalletHub considered three dimensions, including cost, safety, and activities. Data analysts then used the square root of the population for certain categories to calculate the population size to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across all states. Specific metrics included the following: average gas prices; maximum toll costs; average cost of car repairs; lowest price of three-star hotel room; lowest price of camping; lodging units per capita; cost of living; vehicle miles traveled per capita; population density; share of urban interstates congested during peak hours; increase in vehicle travel on highways (2017 vs. 2010); driving laws rating; traffic indiscipline; quality of roads and bridges; traffic-related fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled; share of uninsured drivers; car thefts; rate of larceny; violent crimes per 1,000 residents; share of total area designated as National Parkland; National Parks recreation visitors per capita; zoos and botanical gardens per capita; amusement and theme parks per capita; fairs and festivals per capita over summertime; number of attractions; nightlife options; access to scenic byways; historical sites per capita; miles of shoreline; idealness of summer weather; accommodation and food services establishments per capita; and state and local direct general expenditures on parks and recreation per capita.
Tyra Warner Hilliard, Ph.D., JD, Assistant Professor, Hospitality & Tourism Management, School of Business & Public Management, College of Coastal Georgia, offered her opinion on the top five factors to consider when evaluating the best states for summer road trips.
“Buy-in from locals – if locals are welcoming to tourists, then the experience is a pleasant one for travelers,” she said. “I am always surprised when locals in a tourism-dependent area have a ‘go home, tourist’ attitude. The locals clearly do not understand that their quality of life depends on the tourism economy.
“Good infrastructure – I recently traveled from one state to another on the interstate and was shocked at how poorly the roads were maintained in the second state. Bad enough that it would discourage me from wanting to travel through that state on a vacation. Likewise, good signage is crucial for the road traveler.
“Plenty of diverse accommodation options – road travelers come in all types and all budgets. A good state for summer road trips will have accommodations for every budget and style, from campgrounds, to RV parks, to bed and breakfasts, to 5-star hotels.
“Co-operative marketing – the best states to visit are those that have co-operative marketing initiatives that promote the state’s (or region’s) attractions, saving the traveler the time and trouble of having to piece them together from their own research.
“Customer service – There is nothing more disappointing to a visitor than looking forward to visiting a hospitality or tourism attraction or business and finding a lack of customer service there. States, regions, communities need to invest the time and money into having their hospitality and tourism workers customer service trained. A bad customer service experience can ruin a visitor’s experience at even the best attraction, hotel, or restaurant.”
Hilliard also suggested several tips for those planning to hit the road this summer, here or elsewhere.
“Plan your route out ahead of time to maximize time and fuel efficiency. You’ll spend less on gas this way and spend more time having fun,” she said. “Plan a menu of do-it-yourself snack and meal options you can store and make in the car. Make room for a cooler and plan to purchase ice or find ways to refreeze ice packs along the way. Food is one of the biggest expenses of a road trip--both in terms of money and the cost to your waistline and health. Your wallet and your body will thank you for that deli sandwich and fruit versus stopping for fast food.”
To view the full report, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-for-summer-road-trips.