Fresh Food Ranks Among Top Priorities for Summer Road Trips

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With road trip season in full swing, 66 percent of Americans plan to travel this summer, especially around the Independence Day holiday, and 57 percent of traveling parents will hit the road feeling "stressed" about where they are going to stop along the way, according to Pilot Flying J.

To learn more about the needs of traveling families, the travel center operator 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 found that when driving on a family road trip, finding a stop with clean bathrooms as well as fresh food is crucial to parents.

Nine in 10 parents (88 percent) say they would be "more likely" to stop at a particular travel center if it were to offer fresh food options. Millennial parents are most interested in finding travel centers with fresh food options that will make everyone in the family happy, as 65 percent care about this, compared to 51 percent of Generation X parents and 42 percent of Baby Boomer parents.

Additionally, "where to stop to eat" is the top source of stress and family arguments when on a road trip, the survey found.

Regarding restrooms, 74 percent of parents have stopped at a particular travel center during a road trip because of its reputation for having clean bathrooms, and 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.

When thinking of the total experience, 85 percent of parents (and 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.

"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."

To kick off the Independence Day driving season, Pilot Flying J is offering a special road trip snack pack from now through Aug. 31. When customers purchase a 2.25-ounce bag of Smartfood Popcorn with an online coupon available at, they will receive a free 20-ounce bottle of Aquafina water.

Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J operates more than 650 retail locations in North America.