Since we started travelling together over 4 years ago, we've become bonafide road trip experts. We do at least two long-haul (more than 2,000km) road trips each year and dozens more shorter trips (less than 1,000 km). We've become proficient distance drivers, able to cover long distances with very few breaks and we can each drive 7 or more hours straight without a rest.
All that to say, we've learned a thing or two about vehicle selection when it comes to road trips and that, dear friends, is what we're going to share with you in this blog post.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT ROAD TRIP VEHICLE
Without question, at the top of our list is how rugged is the vehicle and how much adventure can it take? We're adventurers by nature and we love getting off the beaten path and blazing new trails, exploring and getting lost. So right off the hop, that eliminates most sedans for us.
We need a vehicle that can tolerate rough roads, sand, fields, mud and snow without issue. We also like a vehicle that has good clearance from the group – all things to consider when choosing your own road trip vehicle.
Of course, if you're a city slicker and don't plan on sticking to well maintained, paved roads then you likely don't need the features we mentioned above. But, if you're anything like us the first thing we look for is a nice blend of comfort and ruggedness.
The next factor to consider is gas mileage. Once again, this has a lot to do with how you road trip. What length of travel are you tackling and what sort of terrain are you planning to traverse. If you're sticking to the roads, you might weigh gas mileage over clearance but if you're an adventurer and you need the clearance, big tires and durability of a truck or and SUV then mileage is a concession you'll have to make.
We've been driving our Jeep Wrangler for about 6 months now and while it's not the most efficient vehicle to drive, it does allow us far more flexibility than the car we were driving last year. We also know that we can rely on the Jeep without worrying too much about hurting is and that, to us, is a trade we're willing to make.
Storage is always a governing factor for any type of trip. The obvious consideration of trunk space is a given but the often overlooked factor of accessibility is something we weigh even more than the actual storage. A storage space that allows you to easily access anything you need without having to unpack your entire trunk is a must.
This is another reason we err on the side of trucks and SUV's for road trips. The collapsable seats, removable floor panels and easy access trunk space makes life so much simpler on the road!
This is where budget really comes into play and it's also where we would prioritize according to the length of most of your road trips. There are two key features that are a “must have” on our list for the perfect road trip vehicle.
- Air Conditioning. Long haul driving can be challenging enough without having to worry about melting while you're trying to focus on your driving. Before we were seasoned veterans, we took a sedan without AC from Nova Scotia (where we live) to Miami. That's over 3,300 km and 33 hours of drive time in sweltering heat! AC isn't as big a deal if you're not heading to warm climates but the likelihood of you kicking yourself down the road because you didn't spend the extra cash on AC is high. Trust us, get the AC.
- Cruise Control. Let's be honest, driving can be exhausting enough so having a couple of features that make your life easier are well worth the money. Not to mention, these things come standard in most SUV's and trucks now!
And then there are those “luxury” features that just make your trips more enjoyable so if you've got the budget, we suggest splurging on these little gems:
- Sun/Moon Roof: Our first experience with a Sun & Moon roof was when we took a Jeep Trailhawk around the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Before that, we hadn't really thought much about it but once we had that luxury, we wanted nothing to do with a closed in vehicle. Of course, our wrangler has roof panels that easily pop our and we really love that fun feature.
- Drive assist: This is a relatively new feature in vehicles and it's also quite handy on road trips. Staying focused and being aware as a driver is the goal (obviously) but every now and then we lose focus and drift a little (c'mon…we've all done that). Drive assist actually reads the road and pulls you back into your lane if you drift without putting your blinker on – very handy and a great added safety feature.
- Bluetooth & Sound System: Being able to connect your mobile device to listen to podcasts or your favourite playlists is a great option and fabulous sound system is just plain fun on the road.
HOT TIP: Before you purchase a vehicle, check to make sure the bluetooth is compatible with your phone. Not all of them are! We learned this the hard way and it's actually a major pain point when you're not able to connect your phone – especially if you travel a lot. We would have never thought to check until we got a vehicle that wouldn't connect to our phones.
If you're looking for help choosing your very own road trip ready vehicle, head over to cars.com which is an awesome resource and full of info on all sorts of models.