Long-Distance Travel by Income, Gender, and Age

Long-Distance Travel by Income, Gender, and Age

While, on average, each person in the United States made nine long-distance trips in 2001, sociodemographic variables influence the number of these trips that individuals take. Among these variables are household income, gender, and age.

The number of long-distance trips increases with household income. On average, in 2001, people in households earning $100,000 or more made over twice as many long-distance trips (13 per person) as people in households with incomes of less than $25,000 (6 per person) (figure 5-8).

The vast majority of long-distance trips are made by personal vehicle, one reason lower income households make fewer long-distance trips. Households earning $25,000 or more a year are almost 10 times more likely to have a vehicle compared with households with incomes less than $25,000 [2]. Higher income households are also more likely to travel by airplane. For instance, people in households earning $100,000 or more made 17 percent of their trips by air, while those in households earning less than $25,000 made 3 percent of their trips by this mode. Low-income households (under $25,000) made a slightly higher share of their trips by bus than did households in higher income groups (4 percent versus about 1 to 2 percent). For train travel, because of small sample sizes, differences in the shares of train trips by household income group cannot be discerned.

Men took 57 percent of all the long-distance trips taken in the United States in 2001, making up the predominant share of trips by personal vehicle and air (figure 5-9). However, shares of bus and train trips for females and males are not statistically different.

Age affects the average amount of long-distance travel a person does. People travel the most in their middle years. Between the ages of 25 and 64 they took 11 to 13 long-distance trips per person on average (figure 5-10). This rate drops to 9 trips per person for those between 65 and 74. Children under 5 and adults over 75 travel the least.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Federal Highway Administration, 2001 National Household Travel Survey data, CD-ROM, February 2004.

2. ____. NHTS: Highlights of the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (Washington, DC: 2003).