Swerve the most stressful part of travelling – other people!

  • UK ferry industry reveals the top travel stresses and how to avoid them

Discover Ferries, the industry body for passenger ferry travel, reveals the most trying aspects of travel in a bid to highlight more relaxing ways to get away.

The survey of over 2,000 British consumers reports the most stressful[1] points in holidaymakers’ journeys and what will make the trip more enjoyable.

The top travel stresses

Understandably delays and cancellations featured as the number one irritation (65%). But it’s what comes hot on its heels at numbers two and three that raises an eyebrow.

Nearly as many travellers said being seated near irritating and noisy co-passengers like screaming babies was a major travel stress (61%). Hidden additional costs including excess luggage fees, transfer costs, airport parking and food & drink purchases on the journey completed the top three (57%).

Being in crowded spaces (49%) also featured highly in the list, suggesting that proximity to other travellers hugely impacts the journey experience.

When travelling by ferry, travellers can freely move around spacious ships and away from passengers that they would rather not sit next to. Likewise, people can easily distract children and restless infants by taking them outside on deck or to explore different parts of the ship. This eliminates the stress of keeping children entertained and confined to one seat for long periods. Parents are also less concerned about upsetting fellow passengers, alleviating the stress factor particularly when travelling with a newborn.

Children on deck on P&O Ferries

The ability to stretch your legs and access fresh air also scores highly as an ingredient for an enjoyable journey, as does the solace of a private en suite cabin. This is unsurprising when 48% of Brits find it stressful[1] to be confined to one seat with no access to fresh air for long periods. On commuter ferry services, it can also help travellers avoid the crowds and enjoy a more relaxing journey to work, enjoying the sights by sea and – in London – avoiding the cramped confined spaces underground.

What makes a “bon voyage”?

Top 10 ways to make your journey enjoyable
1Good food & drink
2Ability to stretch your legs
3A complimentary upgrade e.g., a seat or cabin upgrade
4No baggage fees
5Sightseeing opportunities and views on the journey
6Access to fresh air
7Not having to wait for baggage collection
8A private en suite cabin
9Travelling in your own vehicle
10The opportunity to see wildlife in its natural habitat

Abby Penlington, Director at Discover Ferries, says:

“With the space and freedom to move around on board, you can choose who you want to spend your journey with and who you would prefer to avoid. Furthermore, ferries offer spectacular views of the water and its wildlife making a stroll on board even more exciting. We have even created a Wildlife Map with marine life charity ORCA to help passengers spot whales, dolphins, and birds while they enjoy fresh air during their crossing.”

Freedom with baggage

Almost half of Brits (49%) cite fears of lost luggage, while 57% name hidden costs, such as charges for excess luggage, as top travel stresses[1]. This follows earlier research from Discover Ferries, which reported that holidaymakers see luggage fees as the biggest travel rip off – leading almost a quarter of respondents (24%) to say no baggage fees would make their trip more enjoyable. These findings show that hidden costs are not just an inconvenience but can cause travellers additional anxiety.

Penlington continues, “Ferry travel is the antidote to baggage woes and luggage allowances as restrictions do not apply, while taking your vehicle means you can pack as much as you can fit in. Travelling by ferry can alleviate the pressures of packing, being separated from your luggage and the pain of waiting for luggage upon arrival.”

It also negates the challenge of airport security, which 41% of travellers find stressful[1]. While rules around transportation of liquids are changing, the need to unpack, remove clothing and separate hand luggage is still a concern for many.

Penlington, concludes: “Holidays should allow you to get away from the stresses and strains of daily life and the journey should be the start of this experience. Ferry travel offers the benefits travellers seek to make their journey more enjoyable, including the opportunity to indulge in good food on the way. Ferry operators offer a range of culinary treats on board, from quick bites to gourmet meals in fine dining restaurants on larger ships, and ingredients increasingly sourced from local suppliers. When combined with a straightforward boarding procedure and a wide choice of routes to help holidaymakers reach their favourite destinations, we are encouraging more people to discover the joy of ferry travel.”


Results based on a survey conducted for Discover Ferries carried out online by Censuswide. A panel resulting in 2,042 responses from general UK consumers was questioned between 20th and 23rd January 2023. All the research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. 

[1] Results calculated from a combination of ‘Extremely stressful’ and ‘Quite stressful’ responses

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