Feature article

Vehicle must-haves for a family road trip

Getting ready to head off on a Kiwi road trip? Here’s the key car must-haves that’ll help your family have a great trip.

It’s official: road trip season is officially upon us! As such, we figured it’s the perfect time to consider what must haves and features your family car needs to best enjoy an amazing New Zealand road trip.

Hit the road

Kiwis love a road trip and are lucky to live in one of the most amazing places on the planet, with stunning scenery and huge variety spread over the islands: beautiful beaches, monumental mountains, abundant bush – NZ’s got it all.

Driving long distances in NZ isn’t without challenge, so you need to be prepared. We don’t expect you to change car just because you have a big trip coming up, but if you’re the sort of family who regularly road trip, it’s worth knowing a bit more about motoring must-haves and car features for safe and pleasurable long distance travelling.

Comfort is key to safety

When driving long distances, arguably the most important thing to consider is the comfort level of your vehicle. The more comfortable you are, the less strain you’re going to suffer on the drive – lower strain makes for a fresher driver, and a less tired driver is better prepared to avoid an accident. Driver comfort and keeping your family safe go hand in hand.

What makes for a comfortable driving experience? We’re not simply talking about having a comfy seat, you should consider how much space you need to be comfortable on a long journey, and the kind of features that’ll enhance your motoring experience during long stretches of driving.

    Comfort features

    • Quality sound system.
    • Bluetooth.
    • Sun roof.
    • Air conditioning.
    • Power outlet/USB socket.
    • Ample legroom.

    Safety features

    • Anti-lock brakes.
    • Rear-view camera.
    • GPS navigation.
    • Side airbags.
    • Cruise control.
    • Electronic stability.
    • Child locks.

    Size matters

    There’s nothing wrong with small cars - in-fact, there’s lots right about them, including fuel efficiency and they’re a fantastic choice for town/city driving - but a small car comes with severe limitations when embarking on a family road trip.

    The longer the hours spent driving, the more that you’re better off having the security of a larger vehicle. When two cars of different size collide, it’s unfortunately the smaller vehicle that often comes off worse.

    There’s also the issue of room – for both passengers and travel possessions. Fitting a family of four or five into a small car over long distances is an unpleasant squeeze, with limited leg-room, not enough cup holders, and lack of seat flexibility or space for a child-seat or two. You also need to factor in luggage room – making sure to have ample space for all suitcases etc. Larger sedans and SUVs are often a great choice for more room in the car.

    Keeping the family entertained

    On a long journey, the last thing you want is a soundtrack of bored bickering from your travel companions. A small child is unlikely to find the same thrill as you from enjoying the picturesque scenery on display and will require some other form of entertainment. The great thing is that a lot of these in-car entertainment features can be added to your car, whatever the model.

    In-car entertainment features

    • Wi-fi hotspot for internet usage and movie streaming.
    • Audio system for great road trip soundtracks or audio books.
    • Cigarette lighter USB charger to keep device batteries topped up.
    • iPad/tablet mount – allowing your back-seat passengers to watch in comfort.

    Anything else?

    It goes without saying that you want a fuel efficient car for a road trip, whilst the choice of manual or automatic is a personal preference, but all of the features and must-haves we’ve mentioned will make for a smoother, safer, and more fun road trip. No matter where you’re going and how long it takes to get there, that’s going to make for a happier family.