The Great American Road Trip Is Making a Comeback

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iStock

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]

Driving This Thanksgiving Holiday? Here’s the Worst Time to Leave, According to Google Maps

Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images
Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, cooking the turkey correctly or dodging political arguments with family members aren't the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving. It's having to share the road with millions of other travelers on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. If you're hoping to make this element of the holiday a little more tolerable in 2019, plan your day with data from Google Maps.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Google Maps recently published a roundup of Thanksgiving travel tips, including the absolute worst times to hit the road. You may think that leaving the day before Thanksgiving will give you a head-start on traffic, but according to Google, Wednesday is the busiest travel day of the week. Congestion peaks between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday in many parts of the country. If you have no choice but to travel on November 27, plan to leave earlier in the day before roads get too crowded.

It pays to leave the house early the day of the actual holiday. Around 6 a.m., roads will be clear in most major cities, with traffic gradually increasing throughout the morning and peaking as early as noon.

As people who regularly travel for Turkey Day know, getting to dinner on time is only half the headache. Traffic can be just as brutal on the way home. To make the journey as painless as possible, plan to leave first thing in the morning—ideally on Sunday, when most travelers have completed the trip.

Traveling for Thanksgiving is rarely as simple as driving to and from dinner. If you plan on making pit stops along the way, Google has travel information for that as well. According to Google search trends, "ham shops" are busiest at noon the day before Thanksgiving, and outlet malls reach peak traffic around noon on Black Friday. Here are some more stress-free travel tips for the holiday season.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Journey to the Monarch Mosh Pit

iStock/Spondylolithesis
iStock/Spondylolithesis

Each fall, millions of migrating monarchs return to Mexico to wait out winter. The gathering makes Woodstock look like a business conference. Here’s how they get there.

Mosh Pit

In the mountains of central Mexico, the butterflies crowd on the branches of oyamel fir trees. The trees provide a perfect microclimate that prevents the butterflies from getting too hot or cold.

Texas Toast

After winter, the butterflies fly north to Texas in search of milkweed, where they lay their eggs. Many adults will die here; northbound monarchs generally live only three to seven weeks.

Juice Cleanse

One of the reasons monarchs love milkweed? Protection. As caterpillars, they absorb the toxins in the plant, which makes them less tasty to birds.

Connecting Flight

Eventually, a new generation of butterflies will make its way north to Canada. It takes multiple generations of butterflies to reach their final, most northerly destination.

Dine and Dash

On the way, butterflies will eat practically anything. Sure, there’s nectar—but they’ll also slurp the salts in mud.

Catching Air

When fall returns, a new generation of monarchs rides the air currents more than 3000 miles back to Mexico. They navigate by calibrating their body clocks with the position of the sun. (An internal magnetic compass helps them navigate on cloudy days.)

Latitude Adjustment

Monarchs “are one of the few creatures on Earth that can orient themselves both in latitude and longitude,” The New York Times reports—a feat sailors wouldn’t accomplish until the 1700s.

Southern Charm

Miraculously, each generation of southbound monarchs lives up to eight months—six times longer than their northbound descendants. Their longevity might have something to do with a process known as reproductive diapause (which is a fancy way of saying that the insects won’t breed until winter ends).

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