Is your state a travel doer or dreamer?

Three of the most popular states for road trips in the US are North Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Scroll down to see how your state ranks for travel hotspots.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Click here to view the interactive graphics and here to view the data tables.

Do you wish you could go somewhere different this year, somewhere you’ve never been before? Believe it or not, the U.S. has some incredible vacation spots that attract an incredible number of visitors each year.

In 2016, for example, direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.7 billion a day, $113.1 million an hour, and $1.9 million a minute and $31,400 a second.

And summertime, in particular, is an extremely popular time for people to take vacations.

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey in 2014, 59 percent of respondents said that they had taken or would take a vacation during the summer. In general, 39 percent of respondents said they planned to travel within their home state, while 51 percent planned to travel outside their home state.

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We researched how each of the 50 states — plus the District of Columbia — rank for the Most Traveled States for Vacation (based on internet searches for travel) using these three categories that added up to a final ranking score:

  • Search Index Ranking
  • Miles and Population Ranking
  • Doers vs. Dreamers Ranking

A breakdown of components for each of the three major rankings is as follows:

Search Index Ranking

  • The Three Most-Searched Terms – We counted how many times each of the three terms was researched for each state. The three terms are:
    • Road Trip
    • Travel
    • Vacation
  • Total Search Index – The total number of the three most searched terms
  • Search Index Average – We also figured out the most researched version of each term and the top scoring term out of the three options (which we’re calling the Destination Probability).
    • If the top scoring term ended up being something ridiculous, we defaulted to an actual location that is a favorite for that state.
    • Indiana’s top scoring term is “vacation,” but Disney is listed as Indiana’s Destination Probability.

Miles and Population Ranking

This category was based on the following three components:

  • Million Miles Traveled
  • State Population
  • Miles Per Capita

The miles we use throughout this category apply to miles driven and not miles flown.

Doers vs. Dreamers Ranking

This category ranks the states that were searched the most for travel-related terms (road trip, travel, vacation) and then cross-referenced each state with how many miles per resident that state was actually traveled.

For example, Alabama residents did not search the most-searched terms very much (rank 41st), but they traveled a great deal based on how many residents are actually in the state (ranked 2nd). This makes Alabama a Doer state! Alaska, however, searched the terms a lot (ranked 2nd), but they hardly traveled, making Alaska a Dreamer state.

Other Sources

We also consulted two other major sources throughout our research and rankings:

If you’re curious about our overall findings, click here for the full stats and sources for each category.

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Travel Doers versus Dreamers

Click here to view the interactive graphics and here to view the data tables.

As more and more individuals emphasize the importance of experiences over things, it makes sense that summer vacations are becoming even more popular.

With so many people considering taking a summer vacation — and potentially doing so in a state they’ve never visited before — we’ve put together a list of the top 10 states that are travel doers.

#10 – Mississippi

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 179
Million Miles Traveled: 39,890

Even though this state is #10 on the list, Mississippi actually ranked 2nd in the Doers category. Interestingly, vacation was the most searched term out of the three options.

Disney seemed to be the favorite vacation destination for Mississippi residents and it came up as the top Destination Probability for the vacation category.

For those looking to visit “the Hospitality State,” there are several reasons to go:

  • The Gulf Coast
  • Historic sites (the Natchez Trace Parkway, the homes of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner, etc.)
  • The Mississippi Blues music scene
  • Food culture of the South

#9 – Arkansas

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 197
Million Miles Traveled: 34,897

Technically, Arkansas ranked #7 on the Doers list. Those in Arkansas, yet again, loved to research Disney specifically. And travel trailers seemed to be the #1 mode of transportation in Arkansas.

Nicknamed “the Natural State,” virtually every bit of Arkansas seems to be part of a state park, national park, or national forest; it’s even home to the Ozarks. With so many reasons for people to visit Arkansas, it’s no wonder they made it on our Top 10 list.

#7 – Montana (Tied)

Doer vs. Dreamer: Dreamers
Total Search Index: 238
Million Miles Traveled: 12,345

Montana has been called the “last best place on Earth,” and the state is full of Dreamers.

Montana is one of the least populated states in the country and its name is derived from the Spanish word for mountains. The wide open spaces of Montana tend to attract many visitors, as do the countless other reasons people may enjoy vacationing in the state.

Since Montana is the fourth largest U.S. state, it makes sense why “roadtrip planner” was the most searched term for road trip; that’s a lot of land to cover for just a vacation.

Surprisingly, “Costco Travel,” a travel discount program offered to Costco members, was the most searched vacation term for Montana.

#7 – Alabama (Tied)

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 190
Million Miles Traveled: 67,257

Even though Alabama and Montana tied, considering that Montana is the only state full of Dreamers out of all Top 10 States, we felt Alabama deserved to be higher on the list, especially considering they ranked #1 for Doers.

Alabama is the 30th largest state in comparison to Montana being the 4th largest state. Despite that fact, 67,257 million miles were traveled in Alabama compared to the 12,345 million miles in Montana. Additionally, Alabama ranks as the 24th most populous state, whereas Montana ranks 44th in population.

Alabama is also a great destination for summer vacationers for a number of reasons:

  • Rich southern history
  • One-of-a-kind attractions
  • Great Southern food and Gulf of Mexico seafood
  • Beaches at Mobile Bay and the Gulf Coast

#6 – Missouri

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 208
Million Miles Traveled: 71,918

Missouri may not be your first choice for a summer vacation, but it is definitely one you should not cross off your list. A native Missourian, Elizabeth Enochs gives you 10 reasons to visit her home state.

A brief overview of Enochs’ list includes:

  • Gorgeous landscape
  • A plethora of historical and literary sites
  • Wineries galore
  • Culture
  • Delicious food

#5 – Indiana

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 203
Million Miles Traveled: 78,819

Vacation was the most-searched term for people in Indiana, and this time, Florida, the “Sunshine State,” is their favorite destination. Florida — the land of Disney World and beaches —  is, hands-down, a favorite summer destination.

Out of the Top 20 U.S. Summer Vacation Destinations in 2017, Florida held four of the Top 20 spots.

Now anyone planning to stay close to home in Indiana or vacation there this summer, visit this site to discover 15 things you should be sure to do.

#4 – Oklahoma

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 200
Million Miles Traveled: 47,713

Oklahoma ranked #4 for Doers, and their favorite vacation destination is actually Las Vegas. WalletHub ranked Las Vegas as the #1 best place to visit this summer for those looking for budget-friendly fun.

If you want to do something different and visit Oklahoma during your summer vacation this year, here are just a few things you can do:

  • Travel Route 66 – America’s most iconic highway
  • See wild buffalo
  • Visit the original Sonic
  • See Chihuly glass collections
  • Enjoy beautiful scenery
  • Visit incredible museums

#3 – New Mexico

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 201
Million Miles Traveled: 27,435

New Mexico ranked #3 in the Doers category.

Interestingly, “travel trailers” and “Costco Travel” were both top choices for travel and vacations in New Mexico. The state has been affectionately nicknamed “Land of Enchantment.”

New Mexico has a rich history and scenic beauty. The home of the Navajo and Pueblo Indians and the artist Georgia O’Keeffe is saturated with desert landscapes, gorges, and canyons.

#2 – Wyoming

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 266
Million Miles Traveled: 9,597

Since “vacation packages in Wyoming” was the most searched term, needless to say, Wyoming is a top destination. For nature lovers and those seeking cooler weather, Wyoming is the perfect summer destination for you. The state has an impressive array of:

  • Wildlife
  • Breathtaking scenery
  • National Parks

It’s no wonder Wyoming is a doer state; there is so much to do there!

#1 – North Dakota

Doer vs. Dreamer: Doers
Total Search Index: 227
Million Miles Traveled: 10,036

Christmas may be vacationers’ favorite time to visit North Dakota, with “Costco Travel” being people’s favorite route to book a vacation in the state.

But there is still plenty to explore in North Dakota the summer, such as:

  • Entertainment and nightlife
  • Nature and outdoors
  • Recreation
  • History and culture
  • Attractions and family fun
  • North Dakotans’s local flair

Road Trip Preparation

Before you head out on the road to your dream destination, make sure to plan ahead so that you can have a safe, uninterrupted, and memorable summer vacation. Use these 10 tips as a guide for your travels:

  • Clean your car – A squeaky clean car not only gives you a fresh start but also more room to bring home souvenirs from your summer vacation
  • Gather important documents – Make sure your insurance card and info. are up-to-date and in an easy-to-get spot in case police stop you
  • Map out your trip – Know where you are going and stops along the way, but also leave room for spur-of-the-moment adventures
  • Don’t overpack – Bring only what you need; you might need room for the aforementioned souvenirs you’ll bring back
  • Have a designated “dirty” place – To avoid the smell of dirty socks, etc. along the way, bring a laundry bag with you or plastic garbage bag for dirty laundry
  • Avoid heavy traffic – Plan your time on the road accordingly and getting stuck in heavily populated areas of the road in peak hours
  • Create a road trip playlist – Keep yourself entertained while your passengers sleep; even better, subscribe to satellite radio in case you hit dead zones for cell service
  • Watch your gas mileage – From the moment you head out on the road trip to every time you stop, reset your odometer to track your mileage and how much gas you are using
  • Swap out drivers – Do not have just one driver for the trip; having multiple drivers not only saves time, but it also keeps you from arriving at your destination exhausted
  • Take an emergency kit – Be prepared because your road trip may not be without a flat tire or another emergency
  • Carry the Right Coverage – Regardless of where you choose to vacation this summer, even international travel, it’s always a good idea to make sure your car is fully covered and ready to go.

Now that you’ve explored what it means to be a travel a doer versus dreamer, where will you visit?

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Complete Rankings: Is your state a travel doer or dreamer?

– Click here for the full stats and sources for each category. For all media inquiries, please email: Josh Barnes

AlabamaTime Travel6313,84220.50Doers7
ColoradoTime Travel759,2430.24Dreamers35
ConnecticutTime Travel7310,4690.48Dreamers22
District of ColumbiaTime Travel665,2910.59Dreamers50
FloridaTime Travel7010,2110.64Dreamers24
GeorgiaTime Travel5911,5623.69Doers19
IdahoOregon Coast7310,0670.41Dreamers28
KentuckyTime Travel6511,0002.19Doers14
LouisianaTime Travel6510,3151.30Doers27
MarylandTime Travel709,5760.51Dreamers32
MassachusettsTime Travel738,7220.29Dreamers37
MichiganTime Travel629,8611.39Doers33
MinnesotaTime Travel7410,4550.42Dreamers23
MissouriTime Travel6911,8212.44Doers6
NebraskaTime Travel6610,6011.36Doers20
NevadaTime Travel648,9681.03Doers46
New HampshireDisney819,8410.09Dreamers31
New JerseyDisney708,4160.42Dreamers38
New MexicoCostco6713,1585.20Doers3
New YorkTime Travel656,4270.70Dreamers51
North CarolinaTime Travel6111,1403.14Doers15
North DakotaCostco7613,2591.75Doers1
OhioTime Travel669,7880.88Dreamers34
OregonTime Travel398,9351.28Doers49
PennsylvaniaTime Travel677,8850.57Dreamers46
Rhode IslandDisney737,4160.26Dreamers48
South CarolinaTime Travel6010,5652.00Doers28
South DakotaCostco7610,8620.41Dreamers16
TennesseeTime Travel6511,6162.92Doers13
TexasTime Travel619,3971.19Doers44
UtahTime Travel739,8810.40Dreamers30
VirginiaTime Travel439,8561.56Doers36
West VirginiaDisney6710,7511.30Doers16
WisconsinTime Travel6910,7561.16Doers16

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