The Great American Road Trip Is Making a Comeback

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There’s something special—and so quintessentially American—about a road trip. It's a concept that has been romanticized for decades by classic American writers like Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck, and has been popularized in films such as Easy Rider and Thelma & Louise.

Road trips aren’t just a relic of the 20th century, though. They’re now making a comeback, according to the Chicago Tribune, which cited three surveys quantifying the trend. The first, MMGY Global's "2017-18 Portrait of American Travelers," showed that 39 percent of all vacations taken in 2016 were road trips, representing a 22 percent increase from the previous year. The ability to make stops while traveling was the main reason given for this preference, while other respondents cited the lower cost of driving instead of flying, the ability to take pets along for the ride, and the ease of making last-minute plans.

Steve Cohen, senior vice president of travel insights at MMGY Global, told the newspaper that Millennials are driving this trend. He believes nostalgia plays a key role, since Millennials are likely to recall road trips they took “when they were kids, which wasn’t that long ago,” he said.

Of the 88 million Americans planning to take vacations this year, 44 percent are Millennials, followed by 39 percent from Generation X, and 32 percent Baby Boomers, according to a survey by AAA. Of their respondents, 64 percent are planning a road trip—making it the most popular travel option, despite the fact that gas prices have risen. And half of those surveyed by Ford Motor Company said that road trips were more appealing because of the spontaneity that they allow. The company found that a new class of “road trippers” is primarily made up of families who prefer to drive instead of fly, “whirlwind travelers” who take short trips when they have the chance, and solo female travelers.

But not all road trips are created equal, and some states in the U.S. are more suited to long drives than others. A 2016 report by WalletHub found that Oregon was the best state for road trips, while Connecticut was the worst. Each state was ranked according to 21 criteria, from gas prices to road quality to attractions.

Ready to hit the road? You may want to check out the “ultimate U.S. road trip,” an epic journey that covers some of the best attractions in all 48 continental states.

[h/t Chicago Tribune]

When Should You Book Your Thanksgiving and Christmas Flights? Right Now!

zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images
zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, paying for distressingly expensive airline tickets is just part of life when it comes to traveling for the holidays. And, while you might think you’ll get the best deal by checking fluctuating prices obsessively from today until the day before Thanksgiving, you’re probably better off booking your flights right now.

“Once you get within three or four months, the chance of something cheap popping up for Christmas or New Year’s is not very likely,” Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure. “Certainly don’t wait until the last week or two because prices are going to be way higher.”

This is partially because airlines devise algorithms based on last year’s ticket sales and trends, and they know many travelers will fork over some serious cash rather than decide not to go home for the holidays—and there are always plenty of people who wait until the last minute to book their flights. In fact, so you know for next year, the absolute best time to book holiday travel is actually during the summer.

Scott Mayerowitz, the executive editorial director of The Points Guy, admits that it is possible to save a little money if you’re extremely diligent about following flight prices leading up to the holidays, but he thinks your mental health is worth much more than the pittance you might (or might not) save. “The heartache and headache of constantly searching for the best airfare can drive you insane,” he told Travel + Leisure. “Your time and sanity [are] worth something.”

If you’re not willing to throw in the towel just yet, you could always track the prices for a little while, and give yourself a hard deadline for booking your flights in a few weeks. Mayerowitz says buying your seats at least six weeks in advance—or earlier—is a good rule of thumb for holiday travel. That still leaves you several weeks to periodically scroll through flight listings and get a feel for what seems like a reasonable price.

To minimize your travel anxiety even further, try to fly one one of these dates, and check out eight other tips for a stress-free holiday trip.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Welcome to Cool, California. Population: 2520

Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It’s not hard to find U.S. towns with some pretty weird (and sometimes depressing) names, so we shouldn't be surprised that people have the option of settling in the tiny town of Cool, California.

Initially named Cave Valley, due to the limestone formations nearby, the town popped up around 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The population eventually grew to 4100 people.

It's unclear when the town went from Cave Valley to being Cool. One legend suggests that a beatnik named Todd Hausman bequeathed the name after passing through in the 1950s, but the veracity of that story is doubtful since the Cool Post Office was founded as early as 1885. According to Condé Nast Traveler, records show that a reverend named Peter Y. Cool came out to pan gold and settled in the town in 1850, possibly serving as the source of the change.

Whatever the origin of its name, the town of Cool has ample branding opportunities. There’s the Cool Grocery Store and the Cool Beerwerks brewery and restaurant, which specializes in Hawaiian-Japanese fusion cuisine. Cool has held the Way Too Cool 50K Endurance Run every year since 1990.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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