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Whether you’re spending a year in Europe and planning out 12 months worth of road trips, or traveling cross country at home, the most essential part of road trip planning is making sure you have a car to drive.

While renting a car is often the most popular option among road trip fanatics, if you plan on taking multiple trips throughout the year, buying a car may be the most feasible and cost-effective option in the long run.

But before you jump the gun and buy the first car you see, consider these tips about what you should know about buying a car.

Road Trip Fanatic? Here’s What You Should Know About Buying a Car

Check Your Credit Score

Credit card laptop computer RF

Ready to take the plunge and buy a car for your road trip? The first step is to check your credit score.

Having a good credit score will allow you to negotiate a great deal on your car to save you hundreds of dollars. Typically (in the USA), a credit score above 700 is good and a score above 800 is excellent.

If your credit score is lower than this, it would make financial sense to work on boosting your credit report. To do so, pay off any debts you owe, make credit card payments on time, and stick to owning around only 1-2 credit cards.

Check the Car’s History

Traveling with your dog in the car RF

Once you’ve done your research and narrowed down your search to a few cars, check the history of the car.

If you’re buying a used car from a private owner, they may leave out accident history and certain repairs. Take matters into your own hands by using services such as CARFAX to determine what the car has been through.

Whether you’re starting your trip in Florida and are looking for a used Mercedes for sale in Pembroke Pines or for an RV in San Diego, taking time to research the past life of the car you’re buying will ensure you won’t face any car troubles down the road.

Determine Your Car’s Trade-In Value

We all want to save as much money as we can, especially when we’re making large-scale purchases such as a car. One way to cut down on the upfront cost of your car is to determine your car’s trade-in value.

Use a car depreciation calculator to get a rough estimate on how much your car is worth, or check Kelley Blue Book to see how much cars similar to your car are selling for.

Some road trippers may not want to use the current car they have now for their road trip. If you’re in the same boat, you can buy an affordable used car and trade it in or sell it once your trip is over.

Doing so will cut down on your total expenses for your road trip and will keep your current car in prime condition!

Take a Test Drive

Car drive road trip RF

After scouring the internet, going to dealerships, and driving to random people’s homes looking for the perfect road trip car, you may find “the one” you’ve been looking for. However, it may not live up to your expectations once you begin driving it.

When buying a car, it’s incredibly important to test drive the car. Is it comfortable? Do the air conditioning and heating work? What about the safety features? Is there enough cargo space?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself when test driving a potential car. The last thing you want is to be driving for weeks on end in a car you hate, taking away from the joys of your journey.

So, perform a thorough vehicle check of your car before putting the pedal to the metal and taking off for your expedition.

Financing a Car

Pexels Money

If you don’t want to buy a used car, buying a new car is another option you can take when looking for a road trip car. With a new car, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you (most likely) won’t face any mechanical issues along the way.

Additionally, most newer cars are more gas efficient and have advanced safety features to keep you safe along the way. However, newer cars, or newer used car models, can be expensive.

Financing is a great option for buying a new car. With financing, you’ll be able to work with your dealer to devise a monthly loan plan that meets your budgetary needs.

Once you’ve signed the deal, pack your trunk with your road trip essentials and drive off with the sunset in your rearview mirror!


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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