The 10 biggest road trip annoyances and how to deal with them

Planning a road trip… but already worried your patience won’t survive the journey? We reveal the 10 biggest road trip annoyances and how you can best deal with them.

In films and books, road trips seem like the best way to travel. Beautiful landscapes, singing along to the radio, and getting food at the drive-through – it’s the summer dream of many. Plus, it’s an affordable and eco-friendly way to travel, especially if your car is full. 

That’s why more and more people decide to go on a road trip, only to discover that, like everything in life, it’s not so perfect. In reality, road trips can annoy us in various ways. Luckily, with some smart planning and strategies, we can get a more enjoyable road trip experience. 

10 common road trip annoyances

Passport photo online, a service that lets you get the perfect passport photo at home, polled 880+ people across the US to find out the biggest road trip pet peeves. Let’s look at 10 road trip annoyances that at least 50% of respondents found very annoying and the best tips for dealing with them. 

We’ve grouped then into three sections:

  • Travel disruptions
  • Passengers
  • Other drivers

Annoying travel disruptions

1) Traffic jams

The feeling of being trapped in a sea of cars, inching forward at a snail’s pace, can quickly turn the excitement of a road trip into a test of patience. Traffic jams are undoubtedly one of the most significant annoyances that road trippers encounter. 66,53% of the survey’s respondents identified them as a source of extreme frustration.

How can you deal with it?

Most importantly, stay informed and regularly check traffic updates on navigation apps or other reliable sources. It might help you find alternative roads with no traffic. If that fails, make sure you have some entertainment ready. You can listen to your favorite podcast, play a game or watch a film – it will help you pass the time. 

2) Vehicle breakdown or mechanical issues

Just imagine being in the middle of nowhere and suddenly finding yourself stranded on the side of the road with a non-functioning car. It seems like one of the biggest nightmares of many.

How can you deal with it?

Always have essential supplies, like a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, flashlight, first aid supplies, and a basic toolkit. These supplies can help you address minor issues or stay safe while waiting for assistance.

3) Inadequate cell phone reception

Let’s face the truth – we all highly rely on our mobile phones, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. The inability to make calls, access the internet, or use navigation apps due to poor signal can be particularly problematic on a road trip.

How can you deal with it?

Consider investing in a cell phone signal booster for your vehicle. These devices can enhance signal strength and improve reception, especially in areas with weak coverage. If you lose cell phone reception anyway, try to seek higher ground, like a nearby lookout point – this can help you get better reception. 

4) Unreliable navigation

Inaccurate directions, outdated maps, or technology glitches can lead to confusion, wrong turns, and unnecessary detours, disrupting the smooth flow of your journey. Unreliable navigation can even lead to getting your car stuck on non-existent roads. 

How can you deal with it?

Use multiple sources of navigation, such as different GPS devices, smartphone apps, or even physical maps. Cross-referencing information from different sources can help ensure accuracy. If technology fails, don’t be afraid to ask locals for directions, they’re usually happy to help. Maybe you’ll even discover some off-the-map attractions?

Annoying passengers

5) Backseat drivers

Backseat drivers who constantly offer unsolicited advice, criticize driving decisions, or get very loud can create tension and disrupt the overall enjoyment of the journey. No surprise they annoy so many drivers, right?

How can you deal with it?

Set clear expectations for behavior at the beginning of the trip. Communicate that you, as the driver, are responsible for making driving decisions. Their role as passengers is to relax and do anything that will help you drive safely. But – if someone provides valuable information or alerts you to potential hazards, acknowledge and appreciate their input.

6) Passengers who constantly change music

Passengers who frequently switch songs or radio stations without considering the preferences of others can interrupt the flow of the driving experience or the overall atmosphere in the vehicle. It might even create tension between the passengers.

How can you deal with it?

Before starting the road trip, encourage your passengers to create a music playlist. This way, everyone will have a chance to add their favorite songs or genres. If that doesn’t work because your passengers have drastically different music preferences, suggest that they use headphones or personal devices to enjoy their preferred music individually.

7) Passengers who constantly adjust the temperature

Continuously changing temperatures can not only be annoying but also potentially affect the well-being of everyone on the road trip. Rapid shifts in temperature can make it challenging for the body to adjust, potentially leading to discomfort, headaches, and even getting a cold or other illness.

How can you deal with it?

Find a compromise by agreeing upon a temperature range that suits the majority of passengers. You can also encourage passengers to dress in layers, allowing them to adjust their clothing according to their individual comfort levels.

Other drivers

8) Negligent signalers

Drivers who fail to use their turn signals or use them incorrectly make it challenging for others to recognize their intentions and navigate safely on the road. This can be quite dangerous and make you anxious, making the whole road trip a disaster.

How can you deal with it?

Unfortunately, you can’t control other drivers. The best thing to do is always to keep a safe following distance that will give you space for unexpected maneuvers. Moreover, if you encounter a driver who consistently fails to signal or does anything that makes you feel unsafe, consider reporting them to the appropriate authorities.

9) Parking hogs

Drivers who take up more than their fair share of parking spaces are the worst. They make it difficult for other cars to find a parking spot or force them to maneuver around them. It can be particularly annoying in high-demand areas.

How can you deal with it?

Patience, patience, and patience. Instead of wasting time and energy on a parking hog, focus on finding alternative parking spots nearby. Seek out less crowded areas, side streets, or other parking facilities that may have available spaces. We all hate parking hogs, but you’ve got it! 

10) Left laners

Drivers who occupy the left lane often drive at slower speeds or fail to yield to faster-moving traffic. This behavior can disrupt the flow of traffic and create congestion, especially on highways or roads with multiple lanes.

How can you deal with it?

Of course, the safest thing to do is to keep your distance and stay patient. However, if you get really frustrated, it might work to get behind the left-lane hogger and flash your bright lights at them. It often brings their attention, showing them that there is someone who’d like to go faster than them. 

Road trips can be fun!

As you can see, despite all the potential annoyances, road trips can be an amazing way to travel with your family or friends. You get to explore new places, enjoy beautiful scenery, and create lasting memories together. While there may be bumps along the way, the joys, and adventures that come with road trips far outweigh the annoyances.

By implementing the strategies mentioned in this article, you can effectively deal with common road trip annoyances and ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and embrace the ups and downs of a road trip adventure! 

Martyna Inkielman is a content writer at PhotoAiD. She enjoys writing about traveling and social media. In her free time, Martyna can be found exploring new cuisines, painting, or taking analog photos.