Planes, trains or automobiles?

Article date: 13 August 2008

  • UK sees revival of the road trip as summer travellers still opt for four wheels

Despite record petrol prices, soaring car tax and rising congestion, British holidaymakers are rejecting planes and trains in favour of their cars for this year's summer getaway, according to new research released today*.

The study by Norwich Union, asked 2,000 holidaymakers to list their preferred mode of transport this summer. Nearly three quarters (71%) voted travelling by air as the most stressful way to get away, while 69% said trains were a pain. But 41% said travelling by car would be their favoured option.

With memories of Terminal 5 fresh in many minds and endless engineering work on the railways, delays, queues, expensive tickets and overcrowding were the biggest turn off for trains and planes.

In comparison 62% of those questioned listed beautiful scenery as the main benefit of car travel, followed by being in control of their own destination (50%) and the lure of the open road (44%).

Add to that the fact that the credit crunch means 75% of Brits are planning to holiday in the UK this year** and it would seem that the road trip is enjoying something of a revival.

The research by Norwich Union, part of Aviva, also found that:

  • Two in three drivers (67%) have undertaken a leisurely ‘pleasure drive' in the past month alone
  • Family tiffs in the car are not as common as we might think, with two in five (40%) saying they never have family car arguments
  • Seeing the trip as part of the holiday (49%), preparing properly (37%) and impromptu picnics along the way (19%) are all key components for a good family car trip

Motoring expert and Fifth Gear presenter, Tiff Needell, said: "Motoring is certainly going through hard times at the moment, but it seems that, despite it all, the great British love affair with the car is still going strong. The lure of the open road and being in control, literally, of your own destination is still a valuable part of the motorists psyche. And for families heading off on their hols it's one of the few remaining places where they can come together and enjoy some quality time."

David Tyers, director of marketing at Norwich Union, added: "Our research shows that while the daily drive to work may be a drag, there is still some 'Highway Happiness' out there. Motorists are still happy to hit the open road and the great family road trip remains as popular as ever. So switch off the in-car DVD systems and Ipods and see the trip as part of the actual holiday and make the most of it! "

Here are a few things you can do to ensure ‘good car-ma' and get the best out of a long car trip.

Norwich Union's ‘Good Car-ma' guide to enjoying the ride

  • A good car trip starts with good preparation - make sure the car is clean inside and out, pack refreshments, plan regular stops, ensure comfort with cushions and air fresheners and bring some games and music with you
  • Do your research before you set off and identify places of interest (scenic villages, canals, stately homes etc) that might make for nice stop-offs en route - agree the stops with all the family before you set off
  • Make up a picnic for an impromptu stop on the way - Norwich Union's research showed that motorway service stations are considered to be stressful and not really conducive to ‘good car-ma', while a picnic will allow you to experience a nice, relaxing beauty spot en route and eat healthy home-made food
  • Bring some cheesy CDs to sing along to - there's nothing like a good family car sing-song according to 35% of respondents
  • Don't be afraid to be spontaneous - if you see a place name you're intrigued by, go and check it out! It's always good to get off the beaten track and add a few surprises along the way
  • Make regular stops along the way, not just for the driver but for all the family so there's time to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and relax.

Norwich Union is putting happiness back into driving this summer with cheaper insurance for:

  • Small car drivers
  • More experienced drivers
  • Those who drive less miles
  • Plus up to 10% discount when you buy on line

Plus all the usual benefits:

  • Named drivers earn their own No Claims Discount (when they take out their own policy with us)
  • 24/7 freephone claims helpline - a real person day or night
  • Approved Norwich Union repair network throughout the country, plus three-year guarantee for all our repairs
  • The option of guaranteed No Claims Discount for the life of your policy (if you already have five years no claims discount)

For more information on the Happy campaign visit

For a quote go to


*Research was conducted by Redshift Research.  Total sample size was 2,001 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in July 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

**Research was conducted by Redshift Research for "Great British Getaway" Total sample size was 1,006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in July 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Press office contacts:
Sophie Lam
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6482 

Joanna Pritchard
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6440 

Rebecca Holmes
Norwich Union press office
Telephone: 01603 685177
Mobile: 07800 690731

Notes to editors:

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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