Palmetto roadies WalletHub names South Carolina 12th best for summer car trips, citing cheap gas, plentiful attractions

South Carolina on average has the lowest gas prices in the nation, a plus in a WalletHub survey on summer road trips.

A new online consumer survey reveals it’s likely you’ll be hitting the road at least by fall. The destination just might be South Carolina, whether you live here or not, judging by the perks the Palmetto state offers travelers.

Personal finance website WalletHub recently took a look at what it calls “2015’s best and worst states for summer road trips.”

On the list, South Carolina landed 12th most travel-friendly among the 50 U.S. states. The Internet outlet elevated the state for its lowest average gas prices and a comparatively large number of places for sight seeing. But the state hit a pothole with its highways, ranking 48th best in “road conditions and safety,” according to the researcher.

A big reason that WalletHub conducts the survey is that “85 percent of Americans, up 13 percent from last year, are planning a summer vacation, and nearly 90 percent of them will be on the road.”

In explaining its study, WalletHub said it used 20 “key metrics” to compare the states. The website sought “to identify the states that offer frugally minded road travelers the most fun for the least cost.” In developing answers, the company came up with findings on everything from “average gas prices to the quality of roads to the number of attractions.”

WalletHub broke out seven rankings about South Carolina that might persuade visitors to choose the state as a road-trip destination. They include:

- Average gas prices, 1st.

- Number of nightlife options per 100,000 residents, 7th.

- Driving laws, 11th.

- Number of scenic byways, 14th.

- Number of attractions, 18th.

- Vehicle miles traveled per capita, 28th.

- Lowest price of camping, 30th.

The online site also tallied totals on broad categories. South Carolina scored well in “fun and scenic attractions,” placing fifth best in the country. The state also placed high in “driving and lodging costs” at 13th most cost-effective but wound up third worst in terms of the state’s roads and their safety.

The personal finance tracker focused on computing the costs of summer trips, while giving visitors options on where to go on a budget.

“For many Americans, summer is the time to hit the open road. After all, school’s out, the weather’s warm and the possibilities are endless. The only dilemma? Deciding on a destination,” WalletHub said. “And for financially conscious travelers, the budget will make the call though it doesn’t have to mean less enjoyment.”

WalletHub concluded that vacationers travel at one of the more inefficient times of year yet they keep doing it. “During warmer months, traveling and gas prices tend to climb and peak in August. But that hasn’t deterred Americans from taking their road trips. In 2014, domestic and international travelers collectively spent $644.9 billion on leisure travel. And they’re at it again this year,” according to the consumer company.

Oregon ranked first overall in the survey despite placing 19th highest in driving and lodging costs. Connecticut finished 50th, hampered by bottom rankings in driving and lodging costs and in scenic attractions.

By individual categories, Alabama ranked first in lodging and driving expenses; Minnesota offered the best road conditions and safety; and Washington state lead in fun and scenic attractions.

California lagged because of its highest average gas prices but scored well with the most scenic byways. Nevada reported the lowest camping prices, Massachusetts counted the most national parks per square mile, Vermont scored the fewest number of car thefts, and Nebraska won out in a critically important category for road trips, the lowest average cost of car repairs.

Go to www.wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-for-summer-road-trips/4648/ to read the full WalletHub report.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.