The changing of the colours … it happens every year, COVID-19 or not! And, luckily, there’s no better way to enjoy this annual sight than by road trip. We chatted with Jonathan Klinger, VP of car culture at Hagerty, to get his top tips on dazzling autumn driving. —Vita Daily
Hi Jonathan! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
Sure! I have worked at Hagerty for 13 years now and prior to that was the director of automotive restoration development at McPherson College, the only college in the world with a four-year degree in automotive restoration. My passion for driving started long before I was legal to drive on public roads. Growing up with a farming family I was able to drive tractors and farm trucks in the fields long before I was tall enough to reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel at the same time!
And tell us a bit about Hagerty and its offerings to Canadians.
At face value, Hagerty is Canada’s leading classic and collector car insurance company—but we are more than just that. We are a community of car lovers who hope to inspire others with our passion and love of driving. We encourage connection and learning through online forums, driving events, our very own magazine, valuation tool access and more through our Hagerty Drivers Club. Assets like these are how we boast the largest membership club of driving enthusiasts in North America and why we are so proud to be such a unique and innovative brand. While our hub is in Traverse City, Michigan, Hagerty has an office in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and remains Canada’s go-to resource for collector cars.
Do you find that local road trips trending in travel right now? If so, why?
Local road trips are on a huge upswing right now. With most Canadians avoiding international travel, we are finding that they’re exploring their communities in the most serene, secure way they can—in their cars. Road trips afford us the opportunity to get out and experience not only the towns we live in, but surrounding communities as well—something we may not usually do.
How do you advise Canadians choose the right road trip? Where can they find inspiration?
Hagerty has been working on developing some great fall foliage road trip routes aimed at keeping people curious and exploring different regions. Maybe you want to go on a day-long road trip to go surfing at the beach or a week-long road trip over to the mountains—either way, here at Hagerty, we are eager to bring the joy back to the journey in between. To help find inspiration, feel free to check out our Hagerty Community or the iOS app Rallista, which not only showcases different available routes but also connects you to other road-trippers who may have already driven them and can offer feedback and insights.
With less things open, it’s key to consider things like safe refuelling, tire pressures, fluid top-off, wipers, etc. What is the checklist every driver should check off before they depart?
Before departing, especially when for a long road trip (more than a few hours), it is important that you do a full car inspection. This inspection would include checking fluid levels (coolant, windshield, etc.), checking your tires (including your spare!) and more. We’d also recommend never letting your gas gauge drop below a quarter tank due to restricted access and hours at some gas stations. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to do this full check, most mechanic shops offer check-ups as well. It is also important to do a personal check. This might mean packing extra waters and snacks as well as making sure your emergency kit is stocked. The moral of the story here is it’s better to over-prepare!
There’s no question that driving offers a unique opportunity to take in some natural beauty and fresh air. What driving/car-related trends are hot right now?
Trends that are hot right now include (from Hagerty’s Valuation Department): millennials are the fastest-growing demographic of car collectors with a 76 per cent increase in market share over the past five years; 57 per cent of collectible car owners are baby boomers; and 78 per cent of collectible car owners live on the East Coast. Twenty per cent live on the West Coast.
How can Canadians elevate their overall road trip with music, snacks, stops, etc? What are your top tips?
There are a number of ways that Canadians can elevate their overall road trip. From queuing up a great playlist, to putting on their favourite podcast, to packing a festive lunch or stopping at famous local eateries and shops. Road trips don’t have to be dull; they can be more invigorating than the end destination itself when planned properly. To best enjoy, I’d recommend really doing your research on the possible routes – don’t necessarily just pick the quickest one but delve into your options and see all of the possibilities in the places you could stop along the way. Further to this, to really connect with the open road, put your phone in the glove box and turn off the ringer. Allow yourself to unplug and just connect with the Zen of driving and all that Canada has to offer.
What local road trip is at the very top of your bucket list?
The road trip that is at the very top of my bucket list in British Columbia would be to drive from Tofino to Northern B.C., a place I have always been eager to explore given its vast natural beauty and I think that the drive from Tofino onward would be an inquisitive one, to say the least. By starting in the southern surfing town and taking the long way around up north, I would have the opportunity to see an array of true British Columbian culture. For me, it’s not so much the end destination, but the places that this trip would allow me to stop along the way. From Kamloops to Jasper to Terrace, the road would be my oyster.