Roadtrippers’ definitive guide to the biggest road trip trends of 2019

Our predictions for what's in and what's out this year

Here at Roadtrippers, we’re obsessed with—you guessed it—road trips. When we’re not thinking of ways to make our road trip planning platform better or digging into the latest data, you can be pretty sure we’re in the middle of planning our next epic adventure. And with a new year—and new adventures—comes new trends.   

Straight from our team of in-house road trip experts, here’s a sample of what we can expect to see on the road in 2019.

Unique accommodations are still on the rise

Airbnb and glamping have been steadily growing in popularity for a while now, and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to companies like Autocamp and Under Canvas expanding like crazy, even more P2P options for accommodations are popping up. We’re big fans of RV sharing, personally.

We’re also seeing the explosive growth of glamping as a sign that “luxury” travel is being, in a way, redefined. Goodbye luxury suites and hello safari tents!

“I’m most excited to take advantage of Airstream parks like Autocamp and Caravan Outpost.” —Alex Evjen, Content Studio Director

“Last year road tripping I slept in a house bus, eco house, mountain cottage, train, teepee, ski-lodge, farm, and a converted boxing gym; this year I really want to spend a night or two in one of those cool tree hut accommodations.” —Ryan Judd, Australasia Digital Director

Unplugging is so hot right now

Like unique accommodations, the concept of “unplugging” isn’t new, but there’s definitely a growing backlash against oversharing on social media. It’s great that it’s easier than ever to find new places to visit, and to see what cool spots our friends are discovering, but we’re also seeing a lot of people view travel as a way to escape not just everyday life, but the never-ending slog of online content. Work emails, bummer news reports, pictures of friends’ babies, creepily over-targeted ads… you get the idea.

In 2019, we hope to see less people live-streaming every moment of their trip, and more people taking time to be in the moment while they travel. There’s nothing wrong with waiting to share your reflections and highlights until after you get back.

We’re seeing a lot of interest in visiting national parks, camping, hiking, and general weekend escapes into nature. And, for RVers and vanlifers, boondocking—the art of camping in the wild with no hookups for water or electricity—has long been popular, but it’s starting to gain popularity outside of those communities as well.

“Young people will continue to want to escape the city limits and explore (particularly nature) in ever growing numbers.” —James Fisher, Founder + CEO

“The need to ‘disconnect’ seems to be gaining so much steam… this will either lead to people making their travel more mindful or just shaming everyone for posting on social too much.” —Tim Balzer, VP Product

There’s value in actual authenticity

This ties back into our desire to unplug, and with generally growing bored of being bombarded with the same glossy images and cheap listicles. More and more, we’re interested in hearing about the stuff that hasn’t been all over social media for years, or going deeper into a place beyond that one viral image. In-depth and authentic stories feel refreshing in a time when clickbait, recycled content, and overly produced influencers are the norm.

“I want to see normal people, not professional models and photographers sharing their road trips. I hope travel photography becomes more immersive, original, interesting, and showcases the accessibility of places, and the stories behind them.” —Tatiana Danger, Co-Founder

“I think more and more people are tired of crowded, expensive, must-see destinations and are opting for experiences that are more tailored to their interests and feel authentic—not just another annual trip to Disney World or Florida.” —Fallon Venable, Graphic Designer

We’ll take shorter but more frequent trips

A lot of the time road trips are seen as something epic and time-consuming: It involves driving cross-country, or taking the whole family out west for a long summer vacation trip. But more and more, we’re seeing people take shorter road trips to closer-by destinations for a weekend or a few days.

There’s something effortless about hopping in the car and setting off wherever, and it makes roadtripping perfect for a weekend getaway. We’re big believers that no matter where you are, you’re always just a few minutes away from something incredible.

“This year I think we’ll see more weekend trips: people taking off Thursday-Friday and traveling to places for a long weekend.” —Kelly Pulskamp, Distribution Manager

“I’m planning to take advantage of the ‘spur of the moment’ trip—pack light, don’t overthink it, just go!” —Dona Stewart, Geo-data Project Manager

Working remotely is not just for digital nomads

We’re big fans of being able to work while on the road, and this is one big trend that has finally started extending beyond just tech startups. It’s also something that the Roadtrippers team is looking forward to taking advantage of more in 2019. Sometimes, all you need for a jolt of inspiration or motivation is a change of scenery.

“I’m looking forward to more working on the road as WiFi access continues to improve.” —Judy Jones, Geo-Data Curator

Eating on the road doesn’t have to mean junk food

Choosing destinations based on their culinary and foodie scene remains popular, but eating while on a road trip sometimes means valuing convenience over all else. Luckily, stopping at local mom-and-pop joints or taking advantage of the growing number of healthier fast casual options popping up are trending.

“I’m looking forward to reaping the benefits of the local food movement and the revival of the independent restaurant. I’m looking forward to stopping at non-fast food places and getting to enjoy my food instead of just getting food to stay alive.” —Ali Seybold, Data Engineer

Independent and off-the-beaten path locations are trending

Going along with enjoying local restaurants, all things that are independent and off-the-beaten path are trending up. Steering away from chain restaurants, hotels, and attractions lets you avoid crowds and take advantage of something new and different. Even visiting smaller, less popular towns and destinations is a great option.

“This year I predict more off-the-beaten-path travel. I think people will try to discover more untapped places. But I hope we can encourage them to really connect with a place. Spend time there, rather than rushing to tick it off the list.” —Sion Williams, Director of Business Development

“I hope people will spend more time finding things along the way that they weren’t even expecting and letting those moments make up the best part of the trip.” —Crystal Rosinski, Client Services Manager

Tech is here to stay, for better or worse

There’s no denying that tech has done a lot to make roadtripping easier, cheaper, or more convenient. Whether we’re talking about electric cars, keyless rooms at check-in, AI to help curate personalized trips, or even podcasts and music streaming services, we love finding new solutions to our problems—sometimes before we even knew there was a problem.

In 2019, we’ll also become increasingly aware of the issues that can arise because of technology—including overcrowding at parks and restaurants because of social media, Airbnb leading to gentrification, etc.

“Going electric will be big in 2019. There are more charging stations arriving in 2019 so it’s actually possible now, without going cray cray with ‘range anxiety’ about making it to the next charge station.” —Olivia, New Zealand Content Manager

“I’m excited to see more Artificial Intelligence and digital management of things like keyless room access while traveling.” —Kyle Kochanek, Product Designer

“I want to see less of the Airbnb-induced gentrification that disrupts communities and creates housing issues for actual residents. I love supporting individuals and staying in something other than a starchy hotel, but more and more people are purchasing or renting separate residences just for Airbnb, and they otherwise sit empty while actual residents can’t find affordable housing.” —Fallon Venable, Graphic Designer

Being conscious and responsible is in

The concept of keeping an open mind while on the road is something we take very seriously. It’s all about letting our experiences with strangers on the road highlight how similar we as humans are, and generally being conscious of not being a jerk while on the road (turn signals, guys!). The same respect for others applies to nature, as well, and taking care to leave a park or campsite nicer than you found it is a big concern.

“More often, people are realizing we aren’t all different by getting out there and spending time with each other.” —James Fisher, Founder + CEO

“I want to see more ethical, conscience-driven travel. I want to see people thinking about their impact on the destination in ways that they might not have considered before—be respectful of natural wonders, parks and monuments, historical sites (e.g. taking pictures and being mindful of what the site means to other people), and support local economies instead of chains and tourist-y stuff. Don’t Be A Jerk 2019!” —Fallon Venable, Graphic Designer

We’re trying new modes of travel

These days, a road trip doesn’t have to mean loading up the ol’ family station wagon sitting in the driveway. Plenty of roadtrippers are taking advantage of flying to a destination and renting a car to explore to make the most of a trip. We’re also seeing trends beyond cars. Think: adventure riding for motorcycles, smaller and more connected RVs in addition to the growth of RV rental services, and a rise in off-roading and overlanding.

“In terms of motorcycle road trips, I think the overland and adventure riding trend will continue to gain more steam. Companies like Honda, Triumph, KTM, and BMW have been steadily improving their top of class adventure bikes and even Harley-Davidson is getting in on the fun with their Pan America adventure bike slated for release in 2020.” —Ace Goulet, WordPress Engineer

“I see a younger generation getting into RVing as RV companies try to appeal to a more diverse audience. I think young families will take this up more by renting RVs, so I am looking forward to taking advantage of that.” —Sion Williams, Director of Business Development

“People often think road trips should only take place right around your home. More and more people are flying into a city, renting a car, and roadtripping around to see more of the area.” —Laura Forster, Director of Sales

What’s out in 2019

There are plenty of trends we hope to leave behind this year. Most notably: doing it for the ‘gram. Done are the days of hopping out of the car to take a picture without fully experiencing a place. We’re over worrying about live-streaming every moment without taking a break to enjoy the trip for ourselves. We’re also tired of littering and trashing nature (we’re looking at you, takeaway coffee cups).

This year, we’re moving past clichés of all kinds, from typical photo ops to boring camping food to road rage.

Here’s what’s out this year:

“People hopping out of their cars just to take photos and then Instagramming them, without actually enjoying and experiencing the place. I’d like people to have more meaningful trips rather than hitting the road for the sake of uploading to Instagram for likes.” —Tatiana Danger, Co-Founder

“The ‘drive 8-10 hours straight through on an interstate, never stopping to explore’ trend.” —Dona Stewart, Geo-Data Project Manager

“People who don’t tread lightly and leave more than footprints.” —Ryan Judd, Digital Director Australasia

“People not using their blinker.” —Kyle Kochanek, Product Designer