School is finally out, graduation parties have faded into memories, the mercury is rising and your feet are getting itchy. What's the best way to cure those summer blues? Why not take this opportunity to plan the perfect road trip for you and your family?
Summer is the perfect time to hit the open road and while gas prices have spiked in recent months (up more than 31 percent over this time last year), it's still one of the cheaper ways to get out of town for a few days.
In fact, you won't be the only ones road-tripping through the United States. A recent survey from WalletHub found that 64 percent of families plan on taking a road trip at some point this summer.
And because your GPS won't understand 'Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning' as a destination, WalletHub compared all 50 states to help you find the most fun, scenic and wallet-friendly destinations for your summer road trip.
Determining the nation's best road trip destinations isn't easy - WalletHub compared all 50 states across three key categories: Costs, safety, and activities.
If you're looking to cut down on the cost of your road trips, Professor Susan Roe says when booking hotels online, people should watch out for resort fees and add on charges to your bill.
"In some instances hotels list lower base rates to appear to be the best choice when consumers search travel websites such as Expedia or Kayak. Then the hotel adds a resort fee or add on charges for services which may or may not be relevant to the traveler," said Roe. "Check these fees and investigate what they provide."
One thing travelers should do when looking to plan a wallet-friendly road trip is to explore the area around them. National Parks in particular are a gold mine according to Jeffrey C. Kreeger, the CHIA, Director of Tourism and Hospitality Studies at Central Connecticut State University.
"There are about 60 National Parks across the U.S. and each of them are well-worth visiting, but sadly they are under visited - plus there are many attractions managed by the park service," said Kreeger.
For road trippers who are over the age of 62, Kreeger says they can purchase a lifetime pass to every National Park for only $80, a huge bargain for road warriors.
Staying safe on the road is another understandable concern for road trippers and for Californians looking to plan a road trip, it may be a good idea to head out of state. Another survey from WalletHub found that the Golden State was ranked #47 in the nation for safety on the road. Tons of congestion, poorly maintained roads and if you're looking for some safe roads to drive, your best bet is to head north for Oregon (#6) which has some of the safest drivers in the nation (not a whole lot of traffic either, which is nice).
If you can make it through Arizona and New Mexico, you won't find any roads better than those in Texas which came in at #1 for safety on the road.
Of course, California does have the most scenic byways in the nation, so you have to balance safety on the road with what you want to see.
Some people plan their road trip with a destination in mind. Some prefer just hitting the open road with no destination in mind other than what they might stumble on along the way.
Wherever you're headed, there are some great places to go within a few hundred miles that make for a perfect weekend 'Nearcation.'
Of course, if you're feeling more ambitious and looking to travel more than 1,000 miles in your car, WalletHub ranked of the best places to visit are just a short road trip away.
For example, you've probably been to Vegas a time or two, but have you ever been to Lake Tahoe? It's all the gambling fun of Vegas, plus, spectacular outdoor activities in one of America's most beautiful settings.
Then again, Wyoming comes in at number one for overall road trip destinations. It ranks as the lowest cost road trip you can take and you can even stop by one of America's crown jewels - Yosemite National Park.
Of course, you won't be alone on the road this summer, so when planning, it's a good idea to think about schedules. Diego Bufuin, an assistant professor with Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida says up to 60 million American households will be traveling at some point in 2018.
"The most popular destinations for the 2018 summer travel season, according to US News & World Report, include cities like Orlando, Boston, Nashville, Portland, and Seattle," Bufquin said. "The busiest times in 2018, as always, will be during academic schedules and holidays."