Air travel is speedy, and train travel is romantic, but road trips are where it’s at if you want the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want. But planning your own road trip could be a thing of the past if artificial intelligence (AI) can help plan where to go and all the stops along the way.

CarMax, the largest retailer of used cars in the US, surveyed over 1,000 people domestically and found out that 83 percent of respondents plan to go on a road trip this year. Then, they proceeded to see if AI technology could plan a better road trip than humans. They used an AI system called Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) to plan road trips with eight different goals, including best overall road trip, best road trip for couples, best cross-country road trip, best coastal road trip, best road trip for foodies, best summer road trip, best road trips for views, and, lastly, best road trip for visiting national monuments.

They then asked the survey participants to compare the AI-designed road trips to those found in travel magazines and choose the one they preferred. Here are the results.

Best overall road trips

Best road trips, overall

Photo: CarMax

For the best overall road trip, 72.2 percent of respondents preferred the AI-designed road trip made up of nine stops:

  • San Francisco (starting point)
  • Santa Cruz
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • Grand Canyon
  • Flagstaff
  • Phoenix
  • San Diego
  • Santa Monica

The human planned road trip included the following stops:

  • Chicago (starting point)
  • St. Louis
  • Tulsa
  • Oklahoma City
  • Albuquerque
  • Flagstaff
  • Santa Monica

Best couples road trip

Photo: CarMax

65.2 percent of respondents preferred the AI-designed road trip made up of four stops:

  • San Francisco (starting point)
  • Napa Valley
  • Sacramento
  • Lake Tahoe

The human-designed road trip included the following stops:

  • San Francisco (straing point)
  • Portland
  • Jackson
  • Denver
  • Las Vegas
  • San Francisco

Best cross-country road trip

Best road trips, cross country

Photo: CarMax

59.7 percent of respondents said they preferred the AI-designed cross country road trips, with stops in:

  • Miami (starting point)
  • New Orleans
  • Houston
  • Dallas
  • Phoenix
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles

The human-designed road trip has stops in:

  • Seattle (starting point)
  • Portland
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Fe
  • Amarillo
  • Atlanta
  • Charleston
  • Best coastal road trip

    Best road trips, coastal

    Photo: CarMax

    59 percent of respondents preferred the AI-designed road trip with stops in:

    • San Francisco (starting point)
    • San Jose
    • Big Sur
    • Santa Barbara
    • Los Angeles

    The human-designed road trip has stops in:

    • Seattle (starting point)
    • Portland
    • San Francisco
    • Los Angeles
    • San Diego

    Best road trips for foodies

    Best road trips, foodies

    Photo: CarMax

    50.7 percent of respondents preferred the AI-designed road trip with stops in:

    • Austin (starting point)
    • Houston
    • New Orleans
    • Jackson
    • Nashville
    • Atlanta
    • Charleston

    The human-designed road trip stops in:

    • Dana Point Harbor (starting point)
    • Newport Beach
    • Huntington Beach
    • Manhattan Beach
    • Santa Barbara

    Best road trips for views

    Best road trips, scenic

    Photo: CarMax


    Only 44.2 percent preferred the AI-designed road trip with stops in:
    • New York City (starting point)
    • Philadelphia
    • Washington DC
    • Richmond
    • Norfolk
    • Wilmington
    • Charleston

    58.8 percent of the participants preferred the human-designed road trip with stops in:

    • Portland (starting point)
    • Boston
    • Providence
    • Newport
    • New Haven

    Best road trip for visiting national monuments

    Best road trips, national monuments

    Photo: CarMax

    Only 41.1 percent preferred the AI-designed road trip with stops in:

    • New York City (starting point)
    • Princeton University
    • Philadelphia
    • Gettysburg
    • Washington DC
    • Mount Vernon
    • Monticello

    58.9 percent of participants preferred the human-designed road trip stops in:

    • Yosemite National Park (starting point)
    • Devils Postpile
    • Death Valley
    • Grand Staircase Escalante
    • Grand Canyon
    • Petrified Forest National Park
    • Saguaro National Park

    The study also found that 46.8 percent of those surveyed believed that summer is the best time to hit the road, and, on average, 566 miles is the perfect length for a road trip.