Another year of road trips is in the books—and what a ride it’s been. As a form of travel, road trips have the unique benefit of being more or less immune to major change; as roadtrippers, we’re used to constantly adapting to new situations. When a global pandemic puts international travel at a standstill, we explore closer to home. When the world moves toward electric vehicles, the most popular road trip routes follow. And when gas prices are high, we look for other ways to save.
Personally, I got to step out of my comfort zone more than a few times in 2022. I took an electric motorcycle on a desert off-road adventure, and I rented an RV for the first time. I traveled to places I’d never been before—like Florida’s remote Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles off the coast of Key West—and endured extreme weather ranging from Kentucky thunderstorms to California wildfires.
Being a roadtripper means being open to new experiences. Whether it’s trying a new type of vehicle, adjusting to current events, or getting off the grid for the first time, here are five road trip-related resolutions to commit to in the new year.
1. Budget travel
We saw fuel prices skyrocketing in 2022, and while they’ve gradually been coming back down, we’re still looking at a year of continued inflation, a possible recession, and general economic uncertainty. Does this mean you should stay home and do nothing all year? Absolutely not. One great thing about road trips is that they’re extremely flexible and can be customized to your particular needs and budget.
In 2023, we’ll be looking for new ways to make our dollars last longer on each road trip. This might mean spending more nights camping and fewer nights in hotel rooms, exploring closer to home, bringing along snacks and drinks to save on meals, and hitting up free activities along the way.
In the last few years, RVing has gone from a retirement plan to a trendy lifestyle. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are overflowing with millennials and Gen Zers showcasing life on the road in beautifully renovated fifth wheels or custom-built school buses (better known as skoolies). According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ annual outdoor industry impact report, RVing was the second-largest conventional outdoor activity in 2021, contributing more than $25 billion to the economy. It makes sense—what better way to travel the country than in your own home on wheels?
In 2023, we predict that even more roadtrippers will be upgrading their cars to RVs. If you’re not quite ready to pull the trigger on purchasing an RV yet, do what I did this year and rent one. Renting is an excellent way to try out the lifestyle and narrow down which type of rig is right for you.
It’s no coincidence that off-roading and off-the-grid adventuring are seeing a big rise in popularity. Since 2020 told us in no uncertain terms that the safest place to be was outside and away from other humans, this mantra has planted itself firmly in the minds of many, including people who may be new to the outdoors. But it’s not just a lingering effect of the pandemic—thanks to popular events like Overland Expo, exciting technological innovations in the space, and social media influencers making this lifestyle look more accessible, overlanding is having its day in the sun.
In 2023, we’ll be outfitting our rigs and hitting the trails. It doesn’t have to be a huge investment—many of us already own an off-road capable vehicle and may just need to think about upgrading our tires and adding some camping gear.
Speaking of off-the-grid adventures, they’re not just for those in customized 4×4 vehicles—RVers are getting in on the action as well. The term boondocking refers to RV or van camping with no hookups for water, electricity, or sewage, often in remote, scenic areas on public lands. Camping on Bureau of Land Management land or in national forests is often free of charge, making boondocking a more affordable alternative to staying in a traditional campground.
If you’re looking for a comfortable—and sometimes challenging—way to ease into dispersed camping, consider boondocking in 2023. Just make sure you’re properly prepared and know what to expect.
5. Electric vehicles
As electric vehicles become more mainstream, and range and charging station availability continue to improve, the industry has more room for exciting innovation. It’s not just about efficient commuting anymore—these days, everything from RVs to motorcycles are going electric. And we’re still in the early days of what’s to come.
One thing that sometimes gets overlooked in the conversation around lowering our collective carbon footprint is this: EVs are super fun to drive. In 2023, we’re vowing to get past the range anxiety and really enjoy the unique benefits of electric vehicles—from the torque and performance to the spacious, high-tech interiors.