Meltdown meter: Why family road trips go bad
Boredom and bother lead to meltdowns on family road trips and lasting repercussions, according to CarInsurance.com's survey.
If you see a family sitting in their car on the side of the road this summer, chances are it's due to a breakdown, but not of the mechanical sort. Seventy-one percent of drivers say they've pulled their car over during a family road trip due to someone having a meltdown, according to CarInsurance.com's new survey.
CarInsurance.com asked 1,561 drivers who said their families have experienced road-trip meltdowns to name the main causes, who is the first to experience an emotional eruption in the car and when, and what happens as a result.
Drivers who say a meltdown has led to other problems point to the following repercussions:
- A near-miss: 21 percent
- Long-term family argument: 19 percent
- Turning around to go home: 19 percent
- Traffic ticket: 14 percent
- Accident: 8 percent
While your premiums are likely to go up if you do happen to get ticketed or have an accident, you should check with your insurer to see what car insurance discounts you qualify for to help mitigate any potential rate increases.
Despite the potential consequences of family road trip mishaps, 86 percent of drivers say they look forward to the seasonal ritual of packing up the car, piling in the family and hitting the road.
Most drivers realize a happy car trip with the kids relies heavily on keeping them entertained, and the survey findings underscore this basic parenting principle. Children under age 13 are most likely to lose their composure first (53 percent), followed by teens (23 percent), wives (13 percent) and husbands (11 percent).
Drivers who have experienced a passenger meltdown flag the following as main causes:
- Boredom: 32 percent
- Someone pestering someone else: 19 percent
- Someone won't stop talking: 7 percent
- Someone touches someone else: 6 percent
- Disagreement over radio stations: 5 percent
- Hunger: 4 percent
- Disagreement over stops: 4 percent
- Disagreement over where to eat: 4 percent
- Someone is looking at someone else: 4 percent
- Conflicting directions: 4 percent
- Disagreement over a car game: 3 percent
- Other: 3 percent
- Disagreement over what to watch: 2 percent
- Car sickness: 2 percent
- Something lost in car: 1 percent
While many families (45 percent) enjoy a peaceful journey for two or more hours before someone melts down, 7 percent experience a meltdown before leaving the neighborhood; 15 percent within an hour of being on the road.
Others put the brakes on the idea altogether – 31 percent have decided not to go on a family road trip due to past passenger meltdowns.
Nearly half of drivers (48 percent) say the longest road trip they would go on would last multiple days and a quarter (25 percent) say a full day is the limit. Nineteen percent will venture out for no more than a half day, and some drivers set the maximum road-trip time at a few hours (7 percent).
Thirty-seven percent of drivers report they take more than one car when they embark on a family vacation on the road. Others prefer not to take their own cars at all – 13 percent always drive rentals; 45 percent rent sometimes.
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Portland Oregon to Los Angeles: 1,003 mi one way.
Broke up the drive over 2 days: Sat & Sun down, and Sat & Sun back.
Myself, the wife, and two boys, aged 8 & 5.
Brought along water bottles, snacks, books, comic books, action figures, and Magna-Doodles.
Drove no more than 2 hours before stopping for restrooms, food, gas, or just to walk around in a rest area.
Mini-van equipped with a DVD player; no more than one 75 min movie per day (4 total movies over 4 days). (We were on our way to (and back from) Disneyland, so we watched 4 classic Disney films. It was the first time we'd ever used the DVD player in over 2 years of ownership.)
We had a blast!! Saw beautiful countryside; listened to 20 different CDs of music; played Travel Bingo and "How Many Different States' License Plates Have We Seen"; chatted; my 8-year-old read aloud for a while - it was awesome. No i-Anythings, no Nintendo anythings... yes, we used the DVD player, but not over-much (in my opinion). Would do it again any time... :)
I've been very fortunate with my family on trips. We make multiple 8 hr trips per year without much fuss. If it was only a 2 hr trip I think most in my family would sleep through it. That's with 2 adults, 2 kids (started around age 3 to now age 17), a 65lb bassett hound, and a parrot in a cat carrier. All stuffed in a PT Cruiser with back loaded with stuff. So it's never been the most comfortable travel arrangement. Especially since the dog wants to lay on someone's lap.
There's been some yelling from time to time but never a meltdown of any kind.
Sacramento, Ca. to mid Maine and back. Wife and me, 51 and 46. NO KIDS OR PETS! 2008 Avalon, 53 days and a bit over 10,700 miles. No reservations, no plans, no idea, just a couple of gps contraptions and a box full of maps, buncha clothes and an ice chest. 22 states and had the trip of a lifetime. No fights, no meltdowns, no tickets, no accidents, (scared the hell out of several deer! though), Saw what we wanted, stayed as long as we liked and did not want to come back home. Filthy car and about $40,000 in credit card bills and a ton of gifts and souvenirs when we got back. I would do it again tomorrow! 25th anniversary trip. Oh, and 10,850 digital images! better than one per mile!
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