Road trips are part of the American experience. They are synonymous with summer, the open road, the night sky, and American kitsch. They’re a fun, liberating experience whether you are a college student, young family, or retiree. Loading into your car and heading onto the open road for weeks, days, or even months is a truly unique experience. Yet, if you don’t have the right vehicle, your vacation could be a diaster. I have compiled a short list of stories and learning experiences to help you choose the right car for your weekend getaway.
Make Sure Your Car is Big Enough
A station wagon is an excellent vehicle for a road trip. However, a station wagon with 4 adults, a week’s worth of luggage, and two medium-sized dogs makes for a particularly long ride – especially when stuck in traffic in the blazing summer heat. Similarly, a four-door sedan like a Toyota Corolla is great for two adults, since it gets excellent gas mileage and handles well. However, three adults, two dogs, and luggage for the holiday weekend makes everything a little crowded. Make sure you pack lightly, that you have storage room for luggage and food, and that you aren’t overloading your car with either people, luggage, or pets!
Make Sure Your Car is Reliable
This should go without saying, but the romantic idea of traversing America in a Volkswagen van or clunker car seems to tempt too many of us. There is certainly something nostalgic about taking off with just a tape deck and manual transmission to keep you company. However, when you break down in Minnesota and have to spend $1,500 on auto repairs, you may find your road trip cut short. Having a reliable car with good gas mileage, air conditioning, and safety features will definitely make your getaway more enjoyable.
Make Sure Your Car is Ready
Much like having a reliable car, making sure your car is serviced and ready to drive 1,000 miles or more is an important step. Whether you are driving that old-school scooby-doo van or a modern station wagon, get your oil changed, your tires rotated, and your fluid levels checked. Make sure that you will not run out of gas the first 50 miles into your trip, and ensure your spare tire is in good shape!
Being prepared for auto mishaps will make the rest of your road trip so much more memorable!