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The top 5 causes of road trip rows – and how to prevent them

The end of lockdown has appeared on the horizon – and, as we pass more markers in the government’s ‘roadmap’, hopes are rising for being able to enjoy a good old-fashioned family holiday this summer.

With continued uncertainty around foreign travel, many families are opting for a staycation (a holiday spent in the UK) this year. In fact, according to our recent research, half of all UK adults are planning a staycation around the UK within the next six months.

And while a trip to the seaside or hiking in the great outdoors sound like a dream after months of lockdown, there’s one part of a family holiday that isn’t so appealing. We are, of course, talking about the infamous ‘cargument’!

With several family members in a confined space, tensions can often rise, getting the trip off to a stressful start. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are the main causes of road-trip rows – followed by tips for embracing the freedom of the open road, without driving each other around the bend!

The top 5 causes of road-trip rows

We recently surveyed over 1,500 UK adults about their summer plans, as well as asking them about driving with their family and loved ones. 69% confessed arguments in the car are a regular occurrence, with five standout causes.

Staycation social Stats top 5 causes of arguments
  • Directions (37%)
  • Toilet stops (18%)
  • Radio/music choice (18%)
  • Bad driving (18%)
  • Leaving something at home (18%)

5 tips for a smooth journey

1. Decide a clear route

“You’ve missed the turn!” “You’ve gone the wrong way!” “Why are you taking this route?” We’ve all heard these dreaded phases at some point during our time on the road, but no one wants to hear them en route to a holiday spot. It’s therefore a good idea to have clear directions worked out before you set off. Arm yourself with a good sat nav and take a road map along, just in case. And, although we’re fans of taking the scenic route on leisure drives, when it comes to travelling to a holiday destination, we’d recommend sticking to the shortest possible route to limit the amount of time available for potential arguments.

2. Plan regular breaks

It seems that toilet stops are a bone of contention – stopping regularly will not only prevent any crossed legs (or worse, accidents!), and can also help break up the journey for younger passengers. Being able to stretch your legs and stock up on snacks will help keep tempers calm – interestingly, food was another top cause of spats, mentioned by 15% of respondents.

3. Write a list before packing

We’ve all been there – you’ve set off on your family adventure with little drama: everything fitted in the boot, the kids have settled in nicely, and the road ahead is clear. And then someone says: “Did you remember X, Y and Z?” While some things can be bought when you arrive, others cannot – for example your little one’s most cherished cuddly toy. Writing a list before you travel will help you remember the important things, and will also help prevent overpacking – saving you playing a game of luggage Tetris in the boot at 7am. If a list seems a bit old fashioned, why not ask Alexa or your Google device to remind you not to forget the essentials.

4. Plan activities for the little ones

As part of our research, we discovered that 100% of parents with between four and five children admit there are regular arguments in the car on long journeys. To avoid any car-based clashes, it’s a good idea to plan some activities for the little ones – whether it’s games like ‘I spy’, their favourite music, or a game on a tablet.

5. Share the DJ-ing

Different family members will have different tastes in music, radio stations and podcasts, so why not agree to take it in turns to control the music, so no one feels left out? It might mean that you end up with an eclectic mix of Abba, Peppa Pig’s singalong, and a vintage football podcast, but at least there will be something for everyone!

Start your staycation off on the right foot

To summarise, then, the main take-away for ensuring a calm journey is planning ahead – indeed, four of the five above tips are things that can be sorted before you set off. Doing so will keep everyone happy, so the only thing that will be in the air is summer…not the sound of squabbles!

Another main cause of road-trip arguments is ‘bad driving’, but poor judgment can often be down to being distracted. By taking in the above tips, it should improve the journey for everyone – after all, no one wants to start their staycation with quarrels in the car.

Last but not least, don’t forget to make sure your car is in tip-top condition before a long-distance trip. After going so long without much use, it’s worth being extra careful to make sure you don’t end up waiting for recovery at the side of the road. Perrys can help with a health check and service for complete peace of mind before you set off on your family adventure.

Staycation Social Stats

The year of the staycation

Perrys research carried out in April 2021, among 1,500 UK adults

  • 50% of adults are planning a UK staycation within the next six months.
  • Younger adults are the most eager to get away: more than two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds are keen to travel away from home (67%), followed by 61% of 25 to 24-year-olds.
  • Those living in the West Midlands and the North West are most keen to travel further afield for their UK break. Almost all of those in the West Midlands (90%) and nearly as many in the North West (86%) said they are willing to travel up to four hours away from home.
  • Just 31% of UK adults said they do not have any arguments in the car.
  • Not a single parent with between four and five children are able to have a long-distance car journey without an argument arising, compared to almost half of those without children (47%) citing they do not argue at all in the car.
  • It was found that tensions typically rise within the first 16-30 minutes of a car journey when children are involved. However, for UK adults who are simply living together, tensions don’t typically rise until the second hour of being in the car together.
Staycation Statistics
Written by Perrys | 5 min read
23 Apr 2021