Why the Family Road Trip is Alive and Well

These days, you don’t have to look far to find a reporter or politician decrying the ‘end of driving’. Hyperbolic as this reaction may be, there are a few statistics to support it. Fewer young people are learning to drive, and increasingly innovative forms of mass, rapid transit are landing on drawing boards around the world. However, as any family could tell you, travelling long distances with young children is much more enjoyable when it happens in a spacious private vehicle.

But should you pile into the family’s SUV or rent a car especially for the road trip? First things first, it’s worth taking a look at the real cost of driving a car. As Forbes magazine points out, fuel is only a fraction of what you pay when out on the road. In fact, even if you have your own car that you could theoretically use for your upcoming road trip, it’s still worth considering how much depreciation your road trip is going to inflict upon your car.

Roughly speaking, the real cost of driving your car comes out to something in the vicinity of £0.45 per mile (depreciation alone accounts for around £0.12 per mile). This represents the average cost of maintenance, insurance, depreciation and other miscellaneous expenses. The cost of petrol would be in addition to this.

So if you are planning a trip and have not decided whether or not you would like to rent a car or drive your own, have a look at Your Driving Costs by AAA. This document will help you calculate the real cost of your road trip. With that done, all you need to do is calculate the actual expense of driving the car for the duration of the trip and compare this to what you’ll be paying in rental fees. If it’s purely a numbers game (and the road trip is sufficiently long enough) you’ll probably find that hiring a car makes more sense.

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Of course, this is a leading factor in many drivers’ decision to take advantage of Leasing Options car leasing in lieu of ownership. The bottom-line consideration is that it that there are situations in which it makes more sense to pay for the use of the car rather than for the vehicle itself.

Preparing for the Road Trip

Once you have settled on a mode of transport and decided whether you are going to rent a vehicle or drive your own, it’s time to start making final preparations. Road trips of any ilk are most enjoyable when the family has properly prepared. On that note, let’s explore some considerations to keep in mind for your next family road trip:

Keep the Kids Engaged.

If you follow the blog, you may recall a previous post about staying sane when travelling with young children. Children have short attention spans and will find it difficult to be confined to the car for long periods of time. This is why you’ll want to work in several stops along the way. Above all, be flexible with your itinerary, and don’t be afraid to get creative with games and activities to keep the kids entertained along the way. It will all have been worth it once you arrive.

Know the Score on Insurance.

Regardless of whether you drive your own vehicle or rent one for the road trip, it’s critically important that you understand your options regarding insurance. If your own vehicle’s at stake, check your policy to make sure that you’re still covered when driving far from home. If you are renting, bear in mind that your existing auto insurance policy may cover rental cars. Likewise, if you use a credit card to pay for the vehicle, you may derive coverage from this as well.

Avoid Airport Pick-Ups.

This is purely optional—and only intended to save you money. If you are planning on renting a car after flying to an onward destination, you can save serious cash by picking the vehicle up from a depot outside of the airport. Airport retail space is expensive, and don’t believe for a minute that on-site operators are going to readily absorb this extra expense on behalf of their customers. On the contrary, the same vehicle from the airport is just going to cost more.

Best Car Entertainment Systems for Kids

If you’re planning a road trip with the whole family these holidays, there’s one question you’ll be dreading already… “Are we there yet?” Fear not, with the advancements of in-car entertainment systems, the kids will be occupied from when you first leave home to when you pull in at your destination. Here are a couple of the best ways to keep the kids happy throughout your whole road trip.

Futuris Fully Integrated Car Entertainment System

This tidy package is a fully integrated system which supports multiple formats including MP3, CD, DVD, VCD and external drive video games. Seamlessly utilising your cars sound system, the system employs advanced anti-shock buffer memory and tri-audio technology which ensures top quality sound no matter how tough the trip.

With safety in mind, the system has no protruding or removable parts. It can be fitted in either factory or after-market headrests, and has a remote and wireless headphones. Futuris claim that this is the safest design on the market, and it meets all Australian seat safety standards with ease.

7 inch full adjustable screens and 480 x 234 pixel resolution ensure a clear and vibrant picture every time. The system has a wireless Infra-Red transmitter, 3.5mm auxiliary input jack and a 3.5mm wired headphone jack. There is also the option to have a dual unit, which offers the ability to watch two different movies at the same time as well as the seeing the same movie across both screens if preferred.

Visualogic RoadTrip Universal Dual Headrest DVD System

The Visualogic system similar to the Futuris in that it features two screens within the headrest for the backseat passengers. This is where the similarity ends though, as the RoadTrip system is a far simpler version.

This system is completely independent from the rest of the car audio, and can even be installed in cars without an FM radio. It is easy to install, and be done at home without professional assistance. The 7 inch screen come already mounted, all you have to do is replace your factory headrests with the Visualogic ones. It has a DVD drive and an SD card, as well as an FM transmitter and AV outputs. It comes with wireless headphones and a remote.

While this system is a lot simpler than the Futuris, the video quality is not as clear, and it is not as versatile. The RoadTrip is a great budget option for those who want a simple system to both install and operate.

Alpine PKG-RSE2 Overhead DVD Player

Rather than separate screens within the headrests, some people prefer the sleek look of a drop down DVD player, like the Alpine system featured here. The stunningly crisp 10.2 inch widescreen display ensures startling picture clarity, and has a high brightness function for improved daylight viewing.

A key feature of this Alpine system is the ability to choose to use your complete car stereo for the sound, or alternatively send it through the wireless headphones. This allows your kids to be listening to their favourite movie while you relax up front to your favourite driving music. The remote that is included with the system will also give you control over almost any other Alpine audio device in your car.

A handy pause/play button is placed near the driver, so at any time you can ensure that you have your passenger’s full attention! The Alpine system also includes a video game console connector for when the kids have gone through the family movie collection.

There are car entertainment systems that are great for every family, and every budget. If you’re looking to upgrade your family car, it can pay to look for models which already have these systems installed. Sites such as Cars4Sale Australia  have detailed listings which will allow you to see exactly what’s included in terms of audio and visual entertainment. Whether it’s an interstate adventure or simply a trip to the shops, you won’t regret investing in a great in car entertainment system!

Written by Alex K.

Alex is a motor enthusiast. He has recently bought a Skyline GTT. Alex loves cruising on the seaside roads in the weekend near his home in Noosa, Queensland.

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