Consumer Reports: Guide to the ultimate summer road trip

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's time to pack up the kids and hit the open road, which also means it's time to start making some important decisions.

Consumer Reports has just released its guide to the ultimate road trip - helping you prepare to travel like a pro on your summer getaway.

Ken Mennella went big last year on his family's summer road trip.

The Mennella family had purchased a 35 ft-long travel trailer for a 2-month, nearly 12,000 mile cross-country journey.

"It was was such a great experience. Yellowstone was a big crowd pleaser," he recalled.

But even the best road trip can have road bumps.

"We were driving through Kansas on a highway, and wound up having a blowout," said Ken.

Fortunately, the Mennellas were able to get help from a roadside assistance program.

"Look for a feature called 'trip-interruption' in your roadside assistance program. It can protect you due to a breakdown or theft when you're miles away from home and this can reimburse you for hotels, meals, or alternative transportation," said Mike Monticello, Consumer Reports Autos Editor.

CR says another way to help avoid setbacks before you hit the road is to pack your car right.

"You want to make sure you don't overload your car. You can find your vehicle's load limit listed on the driver's door jamb and in the owner's manual. Stow your heaviest items on the bottom, especially in an SUVs. This keeps the center of gravity lower, reducing the chances of a rollover," said Mike.

And as gas prices continue rise to a national average of $3 a gallon - it's even more important to find cheap gas.

One way to help is to download a gas app. In one search, the free app GasBuddy found almost a dollar difference per gallon between two Chicago gas stations only a few blocks apart!

If you're filling up a big SUV, those savings can really add up.

As for the Mennella family, they plan to take their travel trailer out again for a new adventure as soon as possible.

Consumer Reports also crafted its first-ever "Road-Trip-Worthy" score for 50 vehicles across six categories. Two of the top performers: The Toyota Highlander Hybrid in the SUV category, and the Chevrolet Impala Premier in the car category.

To read the full story from Consumer Reports, CLICK HERE.

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