This is the ultimate car for the travel junkie.
I have a love/hate relationship with minivans. I love them for road trip travel, but not for every day driving. However, when travel takes priority in our lives, I start to think of the minivan in a new way, as a critical tool for the life we live, not just a van to tote the kids to and fro.
We just returned from an epic drive across the Southwest in the Chrysler Pacifica. It was a trip sweet enough to make van life worthwhile all year long.
I came away thinking of all the ways that having a minivan in the driveway is really a ticket to more travel, more of the time. Here are 10 ways this car can set you free to see the world (or at least, much of it):
1. Minivan Math: Spend Less Money, Get More Travel
To reconcile our daily car life with the desire to turn our weekends, holidays and vacations into travel opportunities, the first place to start is the family budget. Banking the several thousand dollars we might spend on airfare for just a couple of annual trips, plus the difference in the monthly payment between a top-of-the-line Pacifica versus a similarly appointed SUV could result in $5,000 or more. That’s a third week of vacation, a bump up to a suite from a double room or a full upgrade from Marriott to Four Seasons. Pretty sweet.
2. Bring Order to In-Car Chaos
The pain of road trip travel starts and ends with stuff. The luggage, the equipment, the totes, coolers and snack bags. Then, add the trash that seems to multiply with the miles. The average car is good with this in small amounts, but a family road trip necessitates large amounts. The Pacifica’s many clever places to stash things gives every passenger a place to set up their own space to keep everyone orderly on the road.
And, clean up is easy: with the sliding doors– which open with a swipe of your foot under the door when the key fob is in your pocket!— the wide-opening lift gate, sliding seats and built-in vacuum, your whole crew can sweep out every last errant french fry in minutes.
3. Make Your Own New Path
Want to cross a few more national parks off your bucket list? Or make a side trip to see a giant ball of string? A minivan makes those extra stops on the way to grandma’s all the more comfortable.
4: Curate the Ultimate Family ‘Gram
Spot a rainbow? Pull over and snap a photo. Wowed by an amazing mountain view? Pull off the road and channel your inner @alexstrohl. Spot a moose, elk, antelopes? They are yours for the snapping. Anyone can take a photo on Hollywood Boulevard; not just anyone can pull off the road and climb a million-year-old geological wonder. Only those who venture out to find it.
And, with ample windows and upright seats, everyone in the Pacifica has a great view for spotting places to stop and taking photos from the car.
5. Bring All Your Stuff
Does a successful family trip mean bringing blankets and chairs for star gazing? Or a cooler so everyone has plenty of snacks and drinks? Outfits for daytime hiking and nighttime dancing? No problem. There’s plenty of room in the rear cargo area for extras; the Pacifica’s oversized cargo bay easily fits a half dozen bags, and the space between center row captains chairs is ideal for your Yeti.
6. Hello Outlet Shopping!!!
A stop at the outlet mall to buy back-to-school sneakers and jeans, to stock up on discounted Lululemon, or to hunt for treasures at Gucci is easy because there’s plenty of room to pick up extras along the way. If you were flying you’d be conscious of overpacking your carryon, but in a minivan you don’t have to curb your retail urges due to space.
7. No One is Touching You
We all remember the torture of summer road trips that meant we spent 8 hours crammed shoulder to shoulder next to sweaty, fidgety, nitpicky siblings, and it was no fun. With room for everyone to spread out no one has to sacrifice their personal space. That is priceless.
8. Get Your Summer Reading Done
Not only are the larger, roomier seats in the Pacifica great for relaxing and reading a book, but the windows and sun roof make the cabin feel light and airy. There is a panoramic sunroof over the front and center rows, and a roof panel over the third row means rear seat passengers can dig into a book or work on a computer without feeling nauseous.
9. Bring the Whole Crew
Want to bring a babysitter, cousins or a friend or two? With 7 or 8 seats it’s easy to extend an invitation, bring along extra family or hire a babysitter for the week. For parents with young kids, an extra set of helping hands can not only make the trip more enjoyable, but make that minivan really sexy when it means you get to go out dining and dancing while the kids are tucked in for the night.
10. The Best Memories Are Made in Minivans
And that is truly the best reason to consider van life. When we are comfortable, relaxed and on our way to someplace happy with our favorite people we can’t help but cherish the memory. Seeing the world with people you love instills great memories in them, too.
Disclosure: I was Chrysler’s guest for the ultimate family road trip in the Pacifica; travel and accommodations were provided but all the fun and adventure was our own.