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New study reveals choosing where to stop on family road trips causes stress for most parents

Fresh food options and enhanced restrooms are priority, especially for millennials looking for a total experience, Pilot Flying J-commissioned study finds.

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – Summer road trip season is in full swing, with 66 percent of Americans planning to travel this summer* and an influx of families preparing to hit the road for the Independence Day holiday. But before they have a chance to unwind at their road trip destination, more than half of those parents (57 percent) will hit the road feeling "stressed" about where they are going to stop along the way. 

To learn about the needs of traveling families, operator of travel centers in North America Pilot Flying J commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. parents who take family road trips and have children under the age of 18. The study revealed that when driving on a family road trip, finding a stop with clean bathrooms and fresh food options are both crucial factors – and common pain points – for parents. Specifically, the study found:

Fresh Food

  • Millennial parents (65 percent) are particularly stressed out about finding travel centers (rest stops, truck stops, gas stations, restaurants, etc.) with fresh food options that will make everyone in the family happy, as compared to Generation X parents (51 percent) and baby boomer parents (42 percent).
  • Nine in ten parents (88 percent), say that they would be "more likely" to stop at a particular travel center, if it were to offer fresh food options.
  • "Where to stop to eat" – is the top source of stress and family arguments when on a road trip.

Clean Restrooms

  • Three-quarters (74 percent) of parents have stopped during a road trip at a particular travel center, because of its reputation for having clean bathrooms.
  • Nearly all parents (98 percent) say that clean bathrooms are an "important" factor when deciding where to stop while driving on a family road trip.

Total Experience

  • Eighty-five percent of parents (including 91 percent of millennial parents) say they would be surprised to come across a travel center that has both great, fresh food options, and clean bathrooms and facilities.

Fortunately for parents, Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers are providing important solutions for parents' biggest road trip pain points, investing in a total experience that includes renovated restrooms and a variety of fresher food offerings, so there's something for the whole family.

"Listening to our guests, and understanding their needs is a priority for us at Pilot Flying J," said Whitney Haslam Johnson, chief experience officer for Pilot Flying J. "If we can provide what families want to take some of the stress away, then hopefully it makes their experience with us enjoyable. As a mom of three boys myself, I understand how important that can be."

Johnson, previously Pilot Flying J's vice president of brand and customer experience, was named chief experience officer in May 2017. As part of her ongoing efforts, the brand recently invested $100 million to renovate bathrooms and showers across its network of more than 750 travel centers across North America, adding amenities like eco-friendly hand dryers, Italian tile accents, family changing tables, and more.

Among other facility enhancement initiatives, Pilot Flying J is ensuring outdoor signs and canopies include LED lighting to better ensure a safe, comfortable experience for families.

The brand also developed PJ Fresh Marketplace, a fast-casual dining experience that delivers to guests high-quality on-the-go food options – from salads and fruit bowls, to freshly-made sandwiches and PJ Fresh Pizza, made with 100 percent real mozzarella cheese and a hand-braided crust. Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers recently partnered with celebrity chef Tim Love, who will innovate with the brand creating fresh, unique menu items, exclusive to Pilot Flying J.

*According to an IPSOS research study; June 8, 2017

News Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | + Posts

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.

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