Family Road Tripping 101: It all starts with the right vehicle

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I should have known this was going to happen again.  Every time we predict how many miles we will be driving we always underestimate how many actual miles we will end up driving.  In 2010, we predicted 10,000 miles for the four corners of the U.S. and we underestimated by 2,000 miles.  Now that we returned to San Francisco from Yosemite, I can tell you that we made our worst prediction of miles ever.  It is far more than 1,300 miles (we’re going to do a contest).  Percentage-wise it was the worst underestimate of our road tripping life thus far.
Secrets to Good Road Travel: It all starts with your vehicle!
One of the most common questions we get asked about our family road trips is how exactly we’re able to endure them in a vehicle with four young children?
The biggest key, of course, is that we have to make our family mentally and spiritually prepared for the journey.  I’ve written about this topic many times before here.
The other side of the coin is that you have to drive the right type of vehicle with the right type of technology.  In 2010, we rode a Chevy Traverse for more than 12,000 miles over the course of 46 days so when Chevy offered us a 2014 model for this year’s trip, it was a no brainer.
We genuinely love Chevy and the Traverse is equipped with numerous features that are mandatory for the type of hardcore driving we’re doing in California.  Those features are:
Space and Comfort: Much to my surprise the Traverse is extremely spacious and comfortable with ample room for the six of us, our luggage and my cameras.  In 2010 we used a roof rack to gain more space for our luggage but this time, even with one more passenger in the vehicle than in 2010, we managed to fit everything in the Traverse.  The Traverse and the Buick Enclave, which we recently bought as a result of driving one during our 2011 road trip to Alaska, appear to be almost identical in size.  In addition to having ample space for us, we used every available cubby hole to compartmentalize our cameras, cables, iPhones and more.
OnStar: OnStar is more than just the standard GPS system that every General Motors vehicles comes with; it’s also a true companion service for drivers.  We used it everywhere we went and we really appreciated speaking to live people who helped us make decisions about where and when to be routed to different places.  OnStar was particularly helpful in many remote places where we had no Internet service to look up addresses or phone numbers to eat, pump gas and more.  (Incidentally, in 2011 we accidentally found out that if we locked the keys to our vehicle , OnStar could open it remotely for you).
Safety: The Traverse is consistently ranked as one of the top rated SUV-hybrid vehicles in the marketplace for safety.  I’m not a car expert but what we most love about this vehicle is that it’s sturdy and drives more like a car than an SUV.  In addition to conducting our car with safe driving habits (hey,our top  road trip sponsor State Farm is always focused on that topic of safety too), we feel very comfortable that this vehicle is a strong, safe ride for us.
Satellite Radio: Our 2010 Traverse was our first true experience with satellite radio and even though we don’t drive much in Miami because we’re always traveling outside of our home, we became hooked with satellite radio and now have it in our Enclave.  Satellite radio is one of the most sacred things we just can’t live without on our road trips and our addiction to it all began with a Traverse.  Our favorite channels are the Alternative Rock and 80s channels.
Remote Ignition Key: General Motors is now including a remote ignition key on all Traverse and Buick Enclaves.  This may not seem like a big deal but when you are traveling and it’s hot (or cold in some cases) it’s great to be able to turn your car on from a distance.  The car will stay on with the air conditioner for up to five minutes before turning itself off.  There’s even an iPhone app that let’s you turn the car on from even more remote distances.  We weren’t able to use it but that’s a very neat way to get your car cool.
Fuel Efficiency: Our PapiMobile averages about 19 miles to the gallon but when we’re strictly on the highway it can do 24 mpg.  Not bad for a six cylinder vehicle that has had a big load of people, clothes and stuff to transport through California.
Me and Go Pro Hero Cameras Just Don’t Last Together
This is like the third consecutive road trip where I lose one one of my Go Pro cameras.  I have some terrific travel video that I shot with the brand new Hero 3 that I bought for the trip but alas I have lost another Go Pro camera!  I think I lost this right before we left Yosemite at the Mariposa Grove.  Lost and Found is on the case but it doesn’t look promising.  Fortunately I have transferred a lot of Go Pro footage.  At this point I care more about the footage than the camera.
Road Trip Wisdom (Sponsored by State Farm)
If you haven’t seen the nifty one page road trip safety illustration we co-created with State Farm be sure to check it out.  One of the points not listed in the illustration is that today you have so many choices beyond just telling your neighbors and the alarm company that you will be out.  If you want to be ultra techy about it you can buy a very inexpensive remote camera that works with your home’s wifi.  Some of these inexpensive systems even come with ability to record.
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