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In Defense of the Minivan: 9 Reasons They’re Great for Summer Road Trips

Oh, the minivan. So roomy, so comfortable, so practical. And so unhip. 

But then again, so was the fanny pack, until all those influencers in your Insta feed started rocking them.

And as it turns out, when you consider how a minivan can really enrich your life on the road, it starts to look a whole lot sexier. 

My family and I just returned from an epic drive across the Southwest in the Chrysler Pacifica, and as we can attest, minivan travel is sweet. Here, nine reasons I’m ready to endorse the ultimate mom-mobile.

For multi-city trips, it’s way better than plane travel 

Flying is great for single destination trips. But…want to cross a few more national parks off your bucket list? Or make a side trip to see a giant ball of string? You’ll need a car, and a minivan makes those extra stops all the more comfortable. Plus, you can easily decide to change your plans to get out of the path of a bad storm—those threats usually mean serious delays when traveling by air.

You’ll always get the perfect shot

Spot a rainbow? Pull over and snap a photo. Wowed by an amazing view of the mountains? Pull off the road and channel your inner @alexstrohl. Spot some moose, elk, antelopes? They are yours for the snapping. And, with ample windows and upright seats, everyone in the van has an equally great view.

You can pack so much more

Want to bring blankets and chairs for stargazing? Or a cooler so everyone has plenty of snacks and drinks? Outfits for daytime hiking and nighttime dancing? No problem. There’s no charge for extra baggage and plenty of room in the rear cargo area or between the center row captains’ chairs.

And pick up even more stuff along the way

A stop at the outlet mall to stock up on discounted Lululemon is easy to accommodate. You don’t need extra luggage to get things home and you don’t have to curb your retail urges due to space.

Easy in, easy out

My favorite thing about minivans: It’s so easy to get people and stuff in and out, including trash, crumbs and dirt, thanks to sliding doors and motion-activated rear lift gates. Even the sliding doors on the Chrysler Pacifica open with the swipe of your foot, as long as you have the key fob in your pocket or purse. And not only do the seats move to give you full access to all the crevices where French fries and Goldfish love to hide, but there’s also a vacuum in the rear cargo area that will stretch the full length of the car. For the first time maybe ever, my kids fought over who got to clean up.

No one is touching you

We all remember the torture of summer road trips that meant eight hours crammed shoulder-to-shoulder next to some sweaty, fidgety, nitpicky sibling. (Looking at you, Brian.) The minivan has room for everyone to spread out, so no one has to sacrifice their personal space.

More light means more reading

Not only are the larger, roomier seats great for relaxing and reading a book, but the windows and, in the Chrysler Pacifica, panoramic sunroof add more light and an airy feeling. This means passengers in the third row can dig into a novel or work on a computer without feeling nauseous.

It’s financially prudent 

With the money you’ll save on airfare, parking and taxis, you can easily upgrade your hotel or plan your trip around Michelin-star restaurants. Or, stick with budget-friendly choices and simply save more. Bonus: Minivan prices tend to be less than that of comparably sized SUVs, so there’s savings there, too. 

You can fit the whole crew

Grandma, cousins, a friend or two…with seven or eight seats it’s easy to extend an invitation, bring along extra family or hire childcare for the week. And if there’s one thing I learned after our family road trip, it’s that you should never, ever turn down babysitting.

RELATED: 9 of the Best 3-Row SUVs, from Luxury to Affordable

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