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.