I drive everywhere, always.
I love it. In a way it’s relaxing. Other times it is so much fun. Embarking on the open road with friends, making memories. Yet, the only reason I take road trips so frequently is that I picked the right vehicle.
I mean, who wants to drive for hours in uncomfortable seats, poor AC and a stereo from the prehistoric times? I wouldn’t. Choosing the right vehicle for your travel needs is something that takes careful consideration.
I bought my crossover last year with the intent of traveling, so when I was shopping I made sure to check for these following essential things. This post is going to cover purchasing a vehicle, not renting. If you’re looking to rent, here 19 tips to finding a cheap rental car.
When selecting your road trip vehicle, make sure to look for the following. . .
Good Gas Mileage
As obvious as this may seem, many people often overlook it. Sure driving is usually cheaper than flying. Yet, just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about gas mileage. You can never save too much money am I right?
Choosing a vehicle that gets quality miles per gallon is essential for any road trip. Even more so on those long, desolate desert roads.
Ahh yes, the bells and whistles that make the drive all the more pleasurable! Ever been on a road trip you couldn’t wait to end? Maybe the drive was stuffy or uncomfortable. That just tells me you picked the wrong car.
Road trips = more time sitting in the car, therefore you got to be comfortable. After all, the journey is half the fun. To ensure maximum road trip fun for not only you but your passengers look for these features.
Once upon a time front seats had limited range of motion. Now, they can go forward, back, up, and down in multiple spots. It’s like having a La-Z-Boy as a driver seat. For a short 5’4″ girl like myself, being able to sit high enough to see over my engine hood is crucial.
As if that wasn’t good enough, you can get seat warmers (for those winter road trips), and bucket style seating so soft it’s like I’m lounging on my couch. OK now you understand why I love driving!
Quality sound system
C’mon, we all know half the fun of road trips is singing along to all your favorite tunes! With that said, you 100% need a quality sound system.
You should also look for AUX inputs and Bluetooth capabilities for when you take turns playing DJ. Bluetooth capability is also a huge safety feature that I will discuss in just a bit.
You got to have it. End of story. Unless your road trip is going to be 74 degrees from start to finish then AC or NO deal.
It wasn’t until my new car that I discovered this cruise control everyone keeps ranting and raving about. Boy were they right. Once you’re on the long stretch of open road, it’s so nice to adjust the cruise control and give your foot a break.
To kick it up a notch, some cars offer adaptive cruise control meaning it will automatically reduce the speed if it approaches another vehicle too quickly.
Of course, I’m saving the most important for last. Safety on the road is a top priority. These features take the stress out of driving replaces it with peace of mine. When looking for your perfect road trip vehicle, be sure to select one with these safety features.
Beeping Seat Belts
We all hate that annoying beep when you don’t have your seatbelt on within the first 10 seconds. Even more so for hours on end. One thing I love about my car is it beeps even if the passengers in the back don’t have their seatbelt on. Having a seat belt reminder is a life saver.
Pretty common in newer cars and for good reason. Having another set of eyes never hurt anyone. What I love about backup cameras is that they even warn you if a pedestrian is approaching. It’s crazy to think we once had to do almost a full 180 just to back up.
Maybe you don’t struggle with remembering to turn on your lights at night, but I did with my old car. Even more so in the hour when it’s not entirely dark but still hard to see. Having automatic lights means one less thing to worry about.
Bluetooth Capability / Hands-Free
A car without this feature is for sure a deal breaker for me. With mobile devices being practically glued to our sides, having a car that allows you to answer the phone and play music on voice command without ever having to remove your hands from the steering wheel is basically magic in my eyes.
Pre-Road Trip Tips
Before heading out on your road trip, make sure to complete the following to ensure safety. Think of these as proactive safety precautions.
Get an oil change
Calculate how many miles until you are due for an oil change. If you are going to be driving more than that number, get your oil change taken care of before you go.
Check your tires
Before every road trip, make sure your tire pressure is good. Also rotate your tires, especially on long road trips. This will keep your vehicle properly balanced, as well as, identify any tire damage beforehand.
Check your seat belts
We all know being on the road longer puts you at higher risk of being in an accident (your fault or not). Having a proper working seat belt is imperative to you and your passenger’s safety, especially infants. Find out more on Cars.com
Things to Bring On Your Road Trip
First Aid Kit
Warm & Fuzzy Blanket
Multi USB Outlet so everyone can charge their phones
Rechargable LED Headlamp
Hydro Flask to keep drinks hot and cold and reduce plastic waste
Cash for Toll Road
Paper Atlas for when you lose signal
Car & Travelers Insurance
What do you look for in a road trip car? Share in the comments below!
Psst. . . Looking for more Road Trip fun? Check out a few of these posts:
How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Road Trip
Flixbus Puts the Fun and Comfort Back in Road Trips
Iceland 7-Day Road Trip: Journey to the Land of Fire & Ice
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Sadly this lifelong NY City gal never learned to drive as mass transit is actually the fastest way around the city. I do wish I had learned though every time I go on vacation because the tour excursions are often so expensive.
Our SUV is our go-to car for a road trip. I am not a lover of minivans, but I hear they are so much better for storage.
I love my crossover. It’s not as big and scary as an SUV and certainly doesn’t scream soccer mom haha.
We are actually renting a vehicle in Mexico in a few weeks, and it is important to have enough space for all our luggage! The rest of the points are great things to consider too. For us, comfort and safety and air conditioning!
For me it has to be comfortable and have plenty of ROOM! I do not want to be cramped. Good gas milage is a huge plus not I want comfort mostly. It can also depend on where I am traveling and what kind of road trip it is too.
There’s nothing better than a road trip with family! I think it’s really important that you find the right car. These are great tips for people who are planning a road trip in the near future!
It is important to know these awesome tips! It is for our own’s sake in the first place. And of course it will lead to a very comfortable and less worries trips that you will really enjoy.
Thank you for sharing this. Holidays are coming so I have a one-week vacation leave with my boyfriend, he just got his licensed and we are planning to rent a car for our out of town adventure. Anyways, I’ve learned a lot from here. Will surely apply all the tips. Cheers!
Thank you for much. I’m glad to have helped. Have a wonderful time on vacation!
Great tips! Thank you for sharing them. Planning to buy a vehicle which can really be good for road trips. Because, here in our country Philippines, there is a lot of places to go to from north to south. Good read indeed!
Thank you for reading! So jealous you live in the Philippines. I can’t wait to visit.
I agree with this list. First is the safety, of course, we need to make sure everything is checked. If the car is not comfortable, it will give much stress and the trip will not be fun.
Wonderful and helpful tips! We don’t have a vehicle so we’d for sure be on the hunt for one if we were to be going on a road trip so this is great!
No car is definitely a way to save money haha. I unfortunately live in a big commuter city.
Not all vehicles can make just any road trip. Even if they seem to be in good shape, some just aren’t meant to travel like that.
I couldn’t agree more. I once took a road trip in a crammed Mustang. Worst decision.
This is a super handy list. We often don’t think about this aspect of the trip!
This is true!
These are really important considerations. I’m pinning this list as a reminder for the next time we rent a car and for next summer when I buy a new vehicle.
Awesome! Thank yo so much for 🙂
This is a great checklist. It’s a good balance between the need for comfort and the need for safety as well as financial issues like gas mileage!
Thank you! Glad you agree.
Space, safety, and reliability would probably be my top picks. The rest are negotiable
We love going on road trips so all of those things you’ve mentioned we took into consideration when we bought our car. And I agree with all your tips.
These really great trip! you have shared informative tips that’s important for travelers and one more thing is safety that should be get first priority.
Those are some great tips about picking the right vehicle. I love a good road trip, but comfort is absolutely essential. Nothing ruins a fun adventure like being in a uncomfortable car that has you screaming to get out of it after a few hours.
Yes that’s totally true. picking the right vehicle for the right place is a must.
You are really right and I am totally agreed with you. But I want to add one more factor if you don’t mind at all. Durability of the vehicle. It should be able to tolerate tough roads, sands, mud and snow unquestionably. What do you think about that?
That is a good point. Thank you for this. Will most definitely be adding this point.
Grateful to you….