If you’re among the 80% of Americans going on a road trip this year, buying a van is a smart move. You can take as many people as you want and go on longer trips without feeling cramped. But before you hit up the dealership, read these 4 tips for picking the perfect van.

1. Types of Vans

If you need to fit seven people and their luggage, go for the minivan. Usually bigger than a car but not as big as an RV, minivans have a square-ish, stretched-out look. The doors also slide open on both sides so it’s super easy to get to the back seats.

Cargo vans can squeeze in about ten folks, but they’re mainly meant for hauling stuff around. This bad boy can carry a ton of weight without breaking down. If you’ve got lots of furniture to move, this could be the ride for you.

An RV is like a mobile home. It lets you explore all 50 states without giving up a cozy bed and home-cooked meals. It’s the go-to ride for camping adventures, and you can find more here if you’re about to travel into the woods.

For parents with large families, SUVs are the bomb. There’s enough space inside for everyone and these vans can easily take on bumpy roads. If you want a smooth ride without any complications, these cars are winners.

2. Accommodations

The interior of an RV typically includes sleeping quarters, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living area. RVs also have everything you need to live comfortably, like power, water, and even propane for cooking and warmth.

Recreational vans also come with tanks on board. These tanks store clean drinking water and waste.

Road trips in RVs are all about freedom and thrill, letting travelers discover different places without booking hotels or sticking to schedules. Lots of people love them: vacationers, road-trippers, and even people who work on the road full-time.

While the accommodations for an RV come at a premium price, they’re worth it if you want a van that’s versatile and practical. But if you’ll only be using your ride for work commutes or the occasional road trip, then a typical van is a better choice.

Choose one with neat entertainment features. A long journey can get tedious, especially for children who get bored easily. A van with a gaming setup can keep everyone occupied and happy.

Features like bass-boosted speakers are perfect for music lovers who want to revel in their favorite songs on the way to a festival. Or if you’re traveling to the beach in the summer, air conditioning is a must-have for a comfortable journey.

Adjustable seats can help you find the perfect seating position, ensuring a pain-free drive. And a van with lots of cup holders is essential for keeping everyone hydrated throughout the trip.

Note that these features will raise the price of your vehicle. However, your van’s built to last for a while, so you might as well deck it out with everything your family wants. You can save some cash on your flashy ride if you go for a used van instead.

3. Fuel Efficiency

Fuel economy is a big factor for many people. You want to know how much fuel you’re going to use so you can plan accordingly. The best way to gauge this is by looking at the gas mileage of the van.

Some vans may only get around 10 miles per gallon on average, while others can go for 20 miles or more. If you’re looking for a van that will save you money at the pump, find one with an excellent gas mileage rating.

Diesel rides generally perform better than petrol ones. However, they need more maintenance because they run hotter than regular cars.

4. Safety Features

Safety features are a must when you’re driving a new van. Learning to drive an unfamiliar vehicle takes some time, so it’s best to feel secure while you’re learning.

Make sure the seat belts in your van work properly for everyone riding with you. It should be easy to spot the belts and they should feel comfortable to wear.

Airbags are crucial for keeping you and your buds safe if you crash. Your van’s bags should have enough pressure to keep you from hitting the windshield or being thrown around during a collision.

When the roads get slippery, anti-lock brakes and traction control systems come to the rescue. They prevent skids and slides, whether you’re driving on wet asphalt or grass. And they stop rollovers by keeping the vehicle stable when turning corners.

All-wheel drive is another key safety feature for those living in a place that’s swamped with snow or rain. It’ll keep you from getting stuck in a ditch and help you stay on the road.

Finally, don’t forget an anti-theft system for keeping your van secure. This feature stops thieves from hot-wiring your car or messing with the ignition.

Know the Facts Before Buying a Van

When you’re buying a van, the dealer should give you all the information about its safety features and accommodations. But don’t be afraid to verify their claims. Inspect the engine, transmission, tires, and brakes.

Ask for a service record and get a mechanic to look at it. If everything checks out, you’re ready to hit the road. During your trip, explore the rest of our auto articles for more information about road safety, fuel economy, and car maintenance.