KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — “Should we get off at the next rest stop, or can you wait a little longer?” It’s a conversation many families have during long car rides, and it can even lead to minor spats. A recent study found that choosing where to stop during long road trips causes stress in the majority of parents on the road.
Spring is in the air, but summer is around the corner, and many families will be hitting the road for annual trips to favorite summertime hot spots. A survey commissioned by Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers in North America, polled 1,004 parents with children under 18 to find out about their experiences when it comes to road trips.
The results showed that more than half of parents surveyed (57%) said that figuring out where to stop during the ride often led to stressful chatter with their loved ones. Among the cohort surveyed, finding places to eat was the most common source of stress and arguments for families.
Many were particularly concerned about finding stops — be it rest stops, restaurants, or convenience stores — with high-quality food available. That was especially true for millennials. About two-thirds of that segment said they were concerned about finding stops with fresh food that appeal to the whole family, while only 42% of baby boomer parents expressed the need for similar amenities.
Meanwhile, a clean bathroom was one thing nearly every parent agreed was necessary. While 98% of respondents felt that finding a sanitary commode was “important” when it came to stopping off, about three-quarters actually pinpoint specific locations on their route because of their reputations for having decent restrooms.
But finding a travel center with both great food and clean bathrooms isn’t something most people expect. Eighty-five percent of parents said they would be surprised to find a roadside stop with both amenities.
So next time you find yourself heading out on a long family adventure, it may be best for your nerves to research stopping points ahead of time, rather than having to argue about it on the fly.
The survey was conducted in May 2017.