The road trip — a classic staple of American travel — is making a comeback.

After the disastrous travel year of 2020, with domestic bookings down significantly across the country thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, people are cautiously optimistic that this year will be different. There will not be a roaring return to cross-country flights, however, as more Americans look to take to the road. Offering freedom, hygiene and lower costs, road trips are likely to define travel in 2021. This is especially true in the wide, open desert of Arizona, with plenty of fantastic road trip options.

The ‘Year of the Road Trip’

On January 26th, the Arizona Office of Tourism designated 2021 the year of the road trip. Focusing on the mental health benefits of planning a trip as well as the increased need for personal safety in the wake of COVID-19 — after all, you can’t spread the disease while sat in your own car — travel is being promoted in a responsible, local manner. As Debbie Johnson, Office of Tourism director, said: “We launched Year of the Road Trip to provide options, with safety and responsibility in mind, to those who are ready to plan their next trip.”

This follows the same trend emerging across the world, with domestic bookings rising in most countries while international bookings are nowhere near to returning to pre-COVID levels. 

The Safest Option Around

No trip can completely protect you from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, yet a road trip is a far safer option than traveling in almost any other way. This is because potential hotspots for transmission, such as a packed plane or train station, are avoided. Additionally, by camping and living in the open air, the chances of inside transmission — far more dangerous than outside transmission — are greatly limited, making a road trip feel like a safe choice. 

The Most Popular Destinations

Whatever you choose as your ride, after making a decision on a Hyundai Reina Vs Mirage G4, for example, you may be thinking of hitting up some of Arizona’s most famous spots. Some of the most popular and exciting destinations are:

• The Grand Canyon

• Monument Valley

• Sedona

• Lake Powell

• Petrified Forest National Park

• Lake Mead

• Page

• Saguaro National Park

• Wupatki National Monument

Thanks to the outstanding national beauty of the state, there are some amazing drives you can try, including the Grand Canyon South Rim, Apache Trail, Kayenta to Monument Valley and Willcox to Chiricahua.

In Search of Authentic Experiences

After a year of remaining mostly inside, people are on the hunt for experiences that give them a true sense of freedom. This is why bookings for RV sharing have exponentially risen over the past year.

People also want to have journeys that last a long time — usually stretching over 14 days — and are close to home, something that a road trip, which needs little planning beyond getting in a car and simply driving, can provide. Additionally, with many people separated from their loved ones for a long time, a road trip will be able to provide them that sense of reconnection and closeness that they crave.