Report: Road Trips and Time Spent Outdoors Profoundly Boost Happiness Levels

It’s become quite clear amid the COVID-19 pandemic that Americans are seeking safer, alternative-type travel plans this year, with social distancing and avoiding air travel being among their top considerations. Road-tripping and RV travel has emerged as an ideal way for many to salvage something of their lost summer 2020 vacation plans.

Outdoorsy’s first ‘Road to Wellness’ survey reveals that 94 percent of North American families reported feeling less stressed, happier and healthier after taking a road trip and spending time amid nature and the outdoors. In addition to improving their own mental health status, 94 percent also said that their children are happier when spending time outdoors.

The survey—the first in a series of upcoming ‘Road to Wellness’ studies seeking to better understand the mental health benefits of time spent outside—was conducted on July 7, 2020, among a group of 1,400 North Americans in order to gather a real-time snapshot of the public’s perspective on outdoor travel.

“We had always believed that time spent outdoors has a positive effect on an individual’s wellbeing, but with this survey, we learned more about the wellness benefits attributed to time spent outdoors with family,” remarked Jen Young, Co-founder and CMO of Outdoorsy, a leading RV rental platform.

Being present with our loved ones holds the power to lift people’s spirits, results showed, as 87 percent of folks reported experiencing mental health benefits because of quality time spent with family.

93 percent of respondents said that they feel more bonded with their children while on a family road trip, 94 percent wish that they took more family vacations, 75 of respondents said that they’d describe their last road trip as a “much-needed escape” and would plan to take another one soon. 75 percent also reported that their kids appear more appreciative and say “thank you” more often while out on vacation.

Other Highlights:

A Welcome Relief: 71 percent of those who’d had to cancel their summer travel plans because of COVID-19 reported that they’re now considering alternative options, such as road trips.

Avoiding Air Travel: 65 percent of parents said that they considered driving, rather than flying, to be easier when taking their children on vacation.

Quarantine Companions: 70 percent of respondents said they’d prefer to take a road trip with family or their significant other rather than go alone.

Work from the Road: 72 percent of today’s remote workers reported that they are planning to take more road trips, thanks to the widespread work-from-home (WFH) policies that have become more common in light of COVID-19. WFH workers are 2.5 times more likely than before to say they would take more road trips if they had RV access.

No Age Limits: Among those surveyed, Millennials were 2.13 times more likely than other generations to spend stimulus funds on a road trip and Boomers 1.8 times more likely to refrain from airplane travel this summer.

Road trips also offer unmatched flexibility, enabling families to determine their own schedules and the length of their getaways. And, with more people gaining remote flexibility to work from the road, getting time off work—one of two factors that typically prevents Americans (36 percent) from enjoying a change of scenery—is no longer a problem. The other, high gas prices (43 percent), has also been rendered less of an issue, with gas prices recently dropping to historic lows.

In terms of trip duration, 28 percent of respondents felt that three to four days the be the ideal getaway; 25 percent said five to seven days was preferable; 21 percent would opt to go for just one to two days; 12 percent thought seven to ten days would be best and nine percent said they’d spend two weeks or more on the road.

“The survey found an overwhelmingly positive sentiment to family road travel and anecdotal reports found that family ties were strengthened in direct correlation to the amount of time a family spends together in nature,” Young said. “We are seeing more and more people enjoy the silver linings from this unique and challenging time as they head for the open road to reconnect with themselves, their families, and the benefits of the outdoors.”

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