We’ve just come back from a 10 days trip where we drove around 1800 kms from Mumbai to North Karnataka and back. Over the last 7 years we have done quite a few roadtrips and while we aren’t adventure junkies there is always two cents worth of advice I can offer. These are my top tips for all roadtrips in India!
(Assumption: You are driving or it’s your car with a driver!)
1. Get the car serviced before you leave, and well in advance so incase they come across something MAJOR you know about it. And even more important, check the tyres, including the stepney tyre that you normally ignore! We always begin our trips with a puncture in the tyre… somehow!
2. Ensure the car documents are in place (Registration certificate, pollution certificate and insurance) and that the drivers have a valid license still! On a trip two years ago, only while crossing the state border into Goa did we realise — when the Police asked for it — that our pollution certificate had expired. We had to pay a fine! Also, keep that fine slip / receipt… You don’t need to pay a fine for the rest of the trip!
3. Break the journey adequately. Keeps you full of energy and keeps the driving fresh and without that urgency of getting somewhere before nightfall. Do NOT drive post 7pm, or rather try your best to avoid it. Many highways have dividers with plants so your eyes are not strained by the beaming headlights but you might enter a bustling town just after 7; which at times is even more tiring as here you won’t have those dividers and many people in India drive on high-beam even within cities! Though these are all relative, so choose your own timelines. But, take those breaks, definitely!
4. Needs to be a minimum of two drivers. Don’t go on a trip where only one person in the car can drive. You never know when you’ll need a break!
5. Pack as much as you want! We are light travellers and tend to always pack just what we need. In terms of clothes that is fine, but on a roadtrip you can take that extra pair of shoes; after all you do have a lot of space! Remember there is no airline to curtail you with a 15 kilos baggage allowance. Pack those four different pairs of footwear for different moods and different occasions!
6. Which leads on to this point, take extra bags! They’ve always been handy… I bought dried flowers in Matheran and didn’t want them to get jostled and crushed, so they went into a cotton bag and sat safely in the seat pocket. We bought vegetables from a local bazaar in Bordi– in our own bag! Once I was lazy to pack properly, so some extras just came back in a cotton bag. And if you’re breaking journey at your mum’s house on the way back to you city, she will ALWAYS give you some food. So I take always take a bag for that 🙂
7. Misc list of things to carry:
– A car-phone charger in the car. These days GPS is so important that you cannot be running out of battery. Even though we have ended up in tunnels with no way to the other side thanks to google maps, still… we use it.
– Unlimited stores of music. You should not run out of music that suits the landscape, mood and spirit of the ride… at any given point of time. And be prepared with couple of playlists that suit different moods. If you are in a city I like to sometimes check out the local radio, but only if that’s your thing!
– Snacks, so that you can keep munching when hungry, or if there is no decent hotel on the way.
– Lots of water. On short trips, we carry bottles and bottles of water so that we aren’t forced to buy bottled water in new city / hotel or feel stressed about the water quality at your destination!
– Newspaper. Carry it always! I have found that it always helps in the oddest of ways. To soak up a leaking water bottle, to layer a rather dirty table before eating at it, to wrap up some banana skin if you are nowhere near a dustbin or to just soak up the water from wet shoes after a trek that got slippery! It’s something that my father would also do and I used to make fun of it then, but makes sense now (We are all turning into your parents… aren’t we?)
– A large towel to put into the window if it’s getting really hot. Or even a dupatta. Carry a nice pillow, if anyone wants to sleep at the back.
– An addition by Rushikesh of Breakfree Journeys – The first aid kit! (A great point…)
8. If you are searching for a hotel or offbeat homestay, always call in advance and get directions… keep that email accessed or save it on your phone, you never know when you’ll lose signal. Save the contact numbers of all your hosts on your phone. And ideally ask them what the locals call their hotels. Most often it’s not the name you know them by! Like on a recent trip the Hermitage is called David’s house… I was in touch with Morvarid, so wouldn’t have guessed I should say ‘David’! 🙂
9. And my companion would add, carry your own alcohol. The advantage of a roadtrip is that you don’t need to bother searching for that daru shop once you reach your destination or even if you find it settle for an arbit wine since your favourite imported wine is not available in Badami! This is supposed to be illegal, so you could get caught (Information courtesy Rushikesh again. I didn’t know!)
10. Explore the road. Search for restaurants that look local. And if you are passing through a big town, it’s not that much of a diversion to just enter and eat at some famous restaurant there. The beauty of a roadtrip is that you can dictate your timelines, you can decide your route and if you choose to meander, you can choose that! Do it all, stop and click those pictures, go check out the dam that’s a 20 kms detour and don’t make it about rushing from one point to another.
That’s all for now, but will keep adding to this list as I go out more!
The roadmap of our most recent trip… so many stories to tell… Watch out for more… soon soon soon!