Earlier this summer, we decided it was probably time to trade in our 2015 Chevy Colorado for a new vehicle for travel. I have loved having a mid-sized pick up truck. However, besides an occasional trip to the dump with recycling and helping friends move furniture, we really weren’t driving it a ton.

colorado truck

Our other vehicle, a 2012 Lexus RX350 crossover, has about 150,000 miles on it and has been starting to need some repairs. On top of that, it’s a little smaller than what we want for long road trips, especially when it’s more than just Ann and me. It worked out fine for our road trip through North Dakota this summer, but we often found ourselves saying it would nice to have more room.

Vehicle for travel Lexus in ND

You should know that whenever we make a large purchase, we like to move slowly. We do some investigating, budget well in advance, and seek online reviews as well as recommendations from others. As a part of our research, this time we asked readers of our blog for suggestions and laid out our priorities.

What we wanted in a new vehicle for travel

Our new vehicle for travel needed to:

  1. Be able to seat six people comfortably
  2. Have plenty of cargo space for suitcases and a cooler
  3. Get good gas mileage (25+ mpg)
  4. Be easy to get in and out of
  5. Cost less than a small house

Immediately, we received lots of ideas for a new vehicle for travel. Some folks suggested an SUV like a Tahoe, Suburban or Explorer. Others suggested crossovers like the Forester or Equinox. Still others suggested a minivan, swearing that they loved theirs. One person even suggested a MINI Cooper which sounded like a lot of fun but seemed a wrong step on the size scale. In any event, we knew we had to do some digging and answer some questions.

Would an SUV be a good vehicle for travel for us?

One reason we decided to sell the truck is that it was pretty high up off the ground. Ann, (who is 5’4″), has a lot of joint pain and climbing into the truck wasn’t easy for her. We visited our local car dealership and looked at a few SUVs.

Ann next to Tahoe

These things are huge! Turns out, the SUVs were just as high up off the ground as my truck and getting in an out was not easy for Ann. In addition, the gas mileage was terrible. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk only gets 13 mpg and the Tahoe wasn’t much better at 15-22 mpg. In addition, it honestly didn’t have a lot of storage space with the third row of seats up. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the sticker prices were shocking.

sticker shock

The sticker on the Suburban we saw showed a price higher than what Ann paid for her first house! For us, an SUV was out.

Could a crossover work?

Next, we considered crossovers. Being crossover owners already, we felt we knew the category pretty well. We can pack a lot in the back of our Lexus RX but there’s not much space for extra passengers.

lexus rx storage

While a few of the crossovers we considered did offer a third row of seating, it wasn’t necessarily easy to use. And if we did use the third row, there was often no cargo space at all for suitcases. While they were less expensive and got better gas mileage than the SUVs, we really wanted more space. So we crossed off crossovers on our hunt for a good vehicle for travel.

What about a minivan?

Honestly, we have never thought of ourselves as minivan people. Our daughter is all grown up now and we don’t have little ones to take to school or soccer practice. We’re empty nest travel bloggers and way too young and hip (or does using the word hip make us not hip?) to have a minivan. My parents have a mini van for goodness sake. It wasn’t for us. The photo below is from our Nebraska road trip with Steve’s parents in 2017.

Minivan trip with Steve's Parents

But the more we looked for a vehicle for travel, the more we saw that minivans offered everything we wanted. They had tons of cargo space, room for seven people to sit comfortably, and they were super easy to get in and out of. In addition, minivans get about 28 miles per gallon on the highway and the cost was far less than that of a house (or an SUV).

So, which minivan would it be?

We began looking at the different vans available and found two options that rose above the rest. The Chrysler Pacifica and the Honda Odyssey each had great reviews. In addition, they both offered all the bells and whistles we’d ever want for our long road trips. But the Pacifica had one feature the Odyssey doesn’t that we couldn’t live without: Stow ‘n’ Go seating. Here’s a 16-second video to show you how it works.

In the Chrysler Pacifica, you can fold the seats into the floor to make room for cargo, so the seats stay in the van. In the Odyssey, you have to remove the seats to make room for cargo. And considering how we’ll use the van to take cargo from Nebraska to Oklahoma, it only made sense to buy the vehicle that allows us to take our seats, as well.

Our new vehicle for travel

So, we headed to the dealer to take one for a spin. While a larger vehicle, it sat low to the ground and handled like a regular car. The ride was smooth, and the seats comfortable enough for a long road trip.

Vehicle for travel luggage space

We picked the options we wanted finding one that even has TV screens for passengers in the back. And before you laugh, you should know that Ann and Meghan have already watched a movie on one of our trips.

Vehicle for travel TV screen

The van also offers three climate zones, USB ports galore, cup holders, and even a 110v plug in. Yes, it has an honest-to-goodness plug – perfect for charging a computer and blogging while on the road.

Vehicle for travel Pacifica Cargo Space

And look how much space it has for cargo with the seats stowed in the floor! We spent several days thinking about it, reviewing our budget, and negotiating a fair price. By the end of the week, we bought a minivan. Well, actually, we like to say we bought a Pacifica. And we love it!

Since we didn’t pay the price of a house for the vehicle, we spent an extra $20 to get a vanity license plate. Now we have “GO PLCES” and “C THINGS” on our two vehicles so we can share travel advice as we head down the road.

Vehicle for travel two cars

We’ve had our Pacifica for a couple months now and are still very happy with the choice we made for a new vehicle for travel. We’ve already put more than 4,000 miles on it and have a big road trip across the south planned for this fall. Can’t wait to hit the road and take her for a spin.

Have you been new car shopping recently? What are your must haves in your next car?

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
What's your happy place? ⁣
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