NACS Goes Along for the Ride on Summer Road Trips

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NACS Goes Along for the Ride on Summer Road Trips

summer family road trip

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — "Are we there yet?" is a phrase associated with boring summer road trips, but the latest Summer Drive Study from NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, shows that 69 percent of people think traveling to their destination is often as fun as the actual vacation destination.

The survey reveals that most vacationers will travel by cars (85 percent), airplanes (36 percent) and trains (8 percent). It also showed that long hours don't deter road trippers. Of those traveling by car, the highest percentage of Americans plan to travel 12 hours or more round trip (32 percent), followed by four to six hours (24 percent), seven to 11 hours (23 percent) or zero to three hours (21 percent).

The Summer Driver Study also provides a glimpse into the typical American’s car during their road trips, including what they eat, why they argue and how they spend time:

What's Going on Inside the Car

Listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts (78 percent) and talking with other passengers (62 percent) are the most popular activities cited by car travelers. Solitary activities such as playing video games or smartphone games (25 percent) or using social media apps (24 percent) are much less popular activities, making summer road trips good options for families hoping to spend some quality time together.

Why are they arguing

Most conflicts revolve around kids: their arguing or being fidgety accounts for 45 percent of disagreements. Other areas of conflict include: what to listen to (29 percent), the temperature inside the car (28 percent), and where and when to stop (27 percent).

When asked who wins these disagreements, most survey respondents said that they reign victorious. Road trips are also a safe haven from ever-present political discussions: only 16 percent of Americans say they argue about politics on road trips.

Why they're stopping along the way

The top three reasons people stop during summer drives are to use the bathroom (96 percent), get gas (95 percent), and buy food or drinks (91 percent). A distant fourth reason is to see a landmark or attraction (68 percent).

"There's only one place that can satisfy all three of the top reasons for stopping during a road trip: a convenience store," said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. "From restrooms and fuel pumps to indulgent snacks and healthy options, you can stop once and make everyone happy. And that can certainly make a road trip more fun."

Where road trippers stop

When determining where to stop along the drive, consumers cite several factors, like:

  • Convenient locations (93 percent)
  • Clean restrooms (89 percent)
  • Fuel prices (87 percent)
  • A trusted or known brand (76 percent)
  • Fresh food options (70 percent)
  • A wide selection of beverages (66 percent)
  • A wide selection of snacks (66 percent)

How they're planning

Overall, 68 percent of Americans say that they are likely to take a road trip this summer, with 47 percent of them planning to take multiple trips. Overall, 58 percent are already actively planning their vacations.

However, consumers are undecided over the impact rising gas prices will have on summer travel. Half of respondents (50 percent) say gas prices have no effect on the amount of travel they expect to do, while 43 percent say they expect gas prices will cause them to take fewer road trips this summer.

What they're indulging on

Many Americans break their normal purchasing habits while on vacation. Travelers indicate that when they are on summer vacation, they are likely to splurge on salty snacks (41 percent), sweets (36 percent) and drinks (33 percent) they don't normally consume.

The survey was conducted online May 7-11 by Penn Schoen Berland. Approximately 1,501 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed.

Alexandria-based NACS advances the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 160 million customers daily and has sales that are 10.8 percent of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales.