Which mode of transport is least stressful? Air, Coach, Train or Car

Passengers have their pulse rates monitored to test four modes of transport

By TTM on 05 February 2008 in Travel Articles

In what is believed to be the first experiment of its type in the UK, Leger Holidays has used digital monitors to test passengers travelling on four modes of transport to find out which offers the most and least stress-free travel.

Leger, which itself offers holidays by four modes of transport – coach, air, rail and self-drive – wanted to find out the travelling stress trigger points in its holidays with the objective of ironing them out to make the holiday journey as easy as possible.

Participants in the experiment, four female travel agents and their families, used digital blood pressure monitors to record their pulse rates in a diary every 30 minutes while travelling to Disneyland Resort Paris from the UK .

As ‘stress’ can be difficult to convey or measure from one person to another, Leger used digital blood pressure monitors to record pulse rates.  It is known that pulse rates rise when we exercise, but importantly they also rise when we are stressed or anxious.

Findings show that, comparing the initial pre-journey reading, and then looking at each subsequent 30-minute reading, the mode of transport which showed the pulse rate decreasing most consistently hour-by-hour was coach.  The indication being that the coach passenger was becoming more relaxed and less stressed than the other three passengers. 

Bottom of the list – seemingly the most stressed – was the travel agent travelling by Eurostar; her readings showed a greater consistency of increasing pulse rate readings as her journey from the UK to France unfolded.

The second most stressed passenger, was the agent travelling by air, leaving the self-drive passenger runner-up to coaching as the least stressed participant.

Huw Williams, Marketing Director at Leger Holidays, said: “A holiday should be an enjoyable experience from the moment you leave home to arriving back, and of course everything in between. 

“Part of our plan in starting this experiment was to isolate some of the trigger points which cause stress, and then try to eliminate them from our passengers’ journeys.

“We appreciate that to make this absolutely scientific, we need to add in more factors, such as testing a much larger sample size over more holiday experiences.  However, what this does for us is provide a good indication of some of the more general factors.

“For example, the results indicate that for the participant travelling by coach the most stressful point was just prior to the journey – perhaps finding travel documents and waiting for the coach to arrive – but once on-board the traveller became consistently more relaxed.

“What we need to do now is look into other passengers to see if this unperceived but measured stress point at the start of the journey is common and see how we might remove some of that pre-journey.  For example, we may look into trial a text messaging service to update passengers on the coach’s arrival at their pick up point.

“For the self-drive participant, the most stressful points were packing the car and adjusting the headlight reflectors in France – simple pre-advance advice about preparation might be all that’s needed here.

“For the Eurostar participant, pulse seemed to rise during the queue to get onto the train and then during the mid-part of the journey itself – perhaps going through the tunnel was an anxious moment for this particular agent.

 “The air passenger’s pulse rate rose during a flight delay and again transferring to the hotel shuttle bus – unfortunately delays can affect all kinds of transport, but perhaps there is something we can look into for transfers."


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