Preparing for a Perfect Road Trip in India
Road trips are fun, spontaneous and exciting, no matter you embark on one, it’s always good to prepare well before you start one. Going on a road trip is much more than getting the car out and throwing few things into the trunk and hitting the road. Good planning done before that trip will transform into a memorable and stress-free journey.
Get Your Car Ready for Roadtrip
1) The most important thing is that your car should be in good running condition. Get your local mechanic to check your car a few days in advance before your departure. Essentials include fluid levels, tire pressure, and oil levels. Don’t forget to check the spare tire as well. Inform your mechanic you are about to embark on a long journey.
2) Get a tank full of fuel the previous day. This saves you precious time you can use to avoid the city rush hour. During the trip do not wait for a low fuel level to refuel. Refuel at a decent petrol station once you are below 1/3 level.
3) Depending on where you are going and how long you would be driving carry extra fuses, an inner tire tube, jumper cables and jack, foot air pump, radiator coolant and may be fan belts as well.
4) Keep duplicate keys on you. You don’t want to look for a key maker in the middle of no-where if you happen to lose your keys somewhere or lock yourself out of the car.
5) Check pollution certificate, registration book and car insurance papers. Whoever intends to drive must carry a valid driving license.
6) Install a mobile stand to get aid in navigation using your smartphone. Get all accessories like car phone charger, USB/AUX cables, etc. fitted if you don’t have them. Get fog lights installed if you bad weather is predicted on your way.
Things to Carry on a Roadtrip
1) Carry a flashlight and do not rely on the phone's led torch for those unforeseen times. If travelling into interiors or remote areas such as Ladakh - you might be needed to carry spare petrol/diesel, do it in a jerrycan instead of plastic bottles.
2) Be sure to have paper maps, a GPS system, or a smartphone with maps. Do not completely rely on GPS or Google Maps.
3) Get together an emergency kit with basic medications such as ibuprofen, antacids, mosquito repellent, bandages, an ointment for cuts and a hand sanitizer. Keep first aid kit easily accessible like in glove box. Sun protection can be a necessity too if you are travelling in summers.
4) Don’t forget to stock up on some snacks, water and energy drinks that will help in keeping your energy levels high during those long drives. This also saves time and money.
5) Tissue, napkins, or paper towels are quite an essential on road trips and so is a trash bag. Keep only designated trash bag and you can dispose of at any of your stops at fuel stations and dhabas. This keeps both you and your car tidy.
6) Wear comfortable clothes for the journey. For drivers, sports shoes are always better than some sandals or slippers.
Plan the Roadtrip Route
1) Once you have a destination or a particular route in mind, make a list of places you want to see en route and prepare a realistic timeline. If this timeline looks stretched compared to the time you have, cut out one or two sightseeing opportunities so that you can thoroughly enjoy the ones you visit. Remember to keep buffer time for any unforeseen issues. With some extra time you can take a day off or do shorter spells of driving and have a more relaxed trip.
2) While picking the route and destination, check what’s the best time to travel to that part of the country. For example, Ladakh is totally unaccessible in winters. Weather conditions are bad for higher areas of Himachal and Uttarakhand as well. Peak summers would not be a good time to visit Rajasthan as well.
3) Plan overnight stops in such a way that you get a good stay option and do not end up driving late into the night. Keep road conditions in consideration as well. On some roads, you would easily average 100kmph+ while on some even 40 would be tough. Check that there is an accommodation available and try to get bookings done over the phone. If travelling during the holiday season, prior confirmed bookings would be a must.
4) Find out about permit requirements if travelling to North East India and other border areas of North India. Though most places now do not require Indians to get a permit but still some places do require even Indians to get an Inner Line Permit usually from district administration.
Things to Keep in Mind for a Roadtrip
1) Plan you itinerary in such a way so that you can avoid driving at night. If at all it is required make sure you do it on major highways with good roads and not passing through some dangerous areas.
2) Don't forget to carry your music with you. Get songs loaded on your pen-drive or iPod and have a collection which has songs for everyone's taste. Remember after hours of driving for days, a normal playlist will get old soon.
3) Long stretches on expressways become boring after a while. Leave that highway and take country roads once in a while so you get some scenic drives as well. But know where to leave them and get back on the highway so that you don't end up wasting hours on a bad stretch of road.
Planning is essential for a road trip, but one must not over plan. When on a road trip be ready for the unexpected. Road trips are meant to be adventurous, so planning for every kilometer of your trip won’t work. Don’t get us wrong, planning is good but you shouldn’t overdo it!
With proper planning you can be much more confident going into that trip? Road trips are a great opportunity to get much closer to outside world and forget your daily schedule for a while. Once all the preparation is done, the most important thing is to enjoy the ride, and living the moment rather than rushing through it. Bon voyage!