The Perfect Road Trip: Travelling in a Pickup Truck

The Perfect Road Trip: Travelling in a Pickup Truck
05 Jun 2020

A road trip can be the best way to experience a country.

You don’t just get to visit cities, or places marked out on a tour bus – you get to see exactly what you want to see, when you want to see it. If you see something interesting, you can just pull over and take a look – not something you can do from a plane where you’re looking overhead.

The journey is not the destination, it’s how you get there. One of the very best ways to get there is in a pickup truck.

Pickup Truck classic ford

Even in the old days, where there was a bare bench seat in the front cab, you could still see the world from a higher vantage point, and soak in the scenery. If the weather was good enough, you could roll down a padded mat in the box and go to sleep staring at the stars – just out in the wilds of nature, with no light pollution or noise separating you from the sky.

Of course, you can still do that if you want to – but modern pickup trucks have changed. Pickup trucks started off simple, with bench seats, and a foot powered windscreen washer in 1948. Over the last 70 years, the truck has evolved – adding luxuries like air conditioning, radios and making the cab larger.

Pickup Truck older ford f100

In the early 2000s, four door cabs were introduced, and by 2004 – most pickup trucks were four door. Now the simple pickup truck has a cab that can easily seat four people, and can have all the luxuries of bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation and built-in media centres that the highest spec’d luxury cars have. Travelling in a pickup truck can be more akin to flying first class than sitting on a barely padded bench.

But, it’s still a truck. If you want to take in some nature on the way – then you have the ability to off-road, and you can throw a kayak in your flatbed if you feel like taking in some nature. If you want to camp, there’s nothing stopping you from putting a tent in their either.

There are now a variety of pickup truck bed tents that can store behind the seat in your cab, with sewn in floors so that you don’t have bare skin on the beds floor – and even the ability to plug in to the truck’s power supply to light it. You can even buy air mattresses with wheel cutouts. You’re off the ground, so away from bugs.

Of course, you can try and sleep in the cab – and there are even inflatable mattresses you can buy to turn the back seat of a truck into a cot which inflate into the footwell, giving you stability. Although the front seats are much more comfortable than they used to be and fold all the way back – they can still be hard to get a good night’s sleep on.

If you do decide to risk a bad back and sleep in the cab (some people claim they can sleep on a roll-mat in the rear footwell, but I’d take that with a grain of salt), make sure that you crack a window open a couple of inches and consider getting a rechargeable heater so that you can stay warm without having to wake up and run the engine.

Whatever the difficulties, a pickup truck gives you options that you didn’t have before. Kids going to college or university? Throw it all in the back of the pickup and take it a road trip. Visiting relatives over the holidays? Go in the pick up a day or two early and have an adventure. Not doing anything on the weekend? Jump in the truck and go wherever you want in comfort.

People buy pickup trucks because they now combine the luxuries of a modern car with the practicalities of a utility vehicle. It’s something that you can comfortably drive to work in, and then throw your life in the back of if you need to. Having a pickup truck means the option to have an adventure is always there – without having to book flights, or hotels, or worrying that travelling off the beaten track will destroy your transmission.

Pickup Truck ford superduty towing boat

I can see for miles…

There’s another reason that going on a road trip in a pickup truck vs a sedan is better – you can see more. We all remember road trips with the family when we were kids, brothers and sisters not keeping to their side – and the general boredom of seeing road after road. Lift yourself a little higher over those hedges and fences, and you can really see the country you’re driving through.

A bit of elevation, and the drive isn’t the means to get to the destination – it is the destination. You get to see everything laid out in front of you, and see how the landscape changes from region to region. The cupholder in front of you will soon no longer be used for coffee, but as a way to hold a DSLR camera as you appreciate how the light changes the landscape around you.

Yes – if you’re bored you can watch a movie – but being there and seeing the glory available to you with your own eyes can be the best movie you can ever see. The nice thing about modern trucks is that with power steering and drive assist – they’re as easy to drive as any other car, so you can focus on the scenery rather than the drive.

Also, if you want to go into the woods, or explore off the beaten path – then that’s something a pickup truck can handle, but a car would be hard pressed to do. A pickup truck offers freedom – and that’s at the very core of what a road trip should be about – the option to go off and live life the way that you want to do it with no-one else telling you how.

Pickup Truck road way

Pickup trucks may not be traditionally considered the best road-trip vehicle, but pickup trucks aren’t traditional anymore. They’re not just utilitarian work-horses – they’re that and a comfortable luxury car that comes with bucket seats and smooth suspension. They’re something you can haul lumber with and sync your iPhone to at the same time.

Happy road-tripping,


Eric White

Eric White is part of the team at 51st State Autos, the UK’s largest importer of American Pickup Trucks in the UK.

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