With the sudden strike of an unknown virus, life on planet Earth will never be the same again!
Ok. Cutting off with too much drama, let’s get straight to the point.
When we think of road trips a lot comes to mind. At once.
Too many thoughts…..is it safe? Can I pull it off?
What are the odds? Is it too much expensive? And on and on….
But wait, stop take a deep breath and read on.
Road trips are so much fun and cozy when it comes to traveling.
What can be better than having your family in your own car, enjoying the road for days on end?
Honestly, it will be the most memorable experience of your life.
It will be your own unique story and in the end, you will get a bag full of memories.
I have been to many road trips within India, so far.
And from personal experience and expert guidance I would say the right question to ask is, “what mistakes to avoid when on a road trip?”, rather than, “should I go for a road trip”?
To answer the latter, of course, you should go!
10 Road trip tips you must follow
1. Do not plan a road trip whimsically
When your sole means of transport for the entire vacay is your private vehicle, you cannot afford to be whimsical.
You must meticulously plan the trip well ahead in advance and prepare your vehicle for the same.
By preparing I mean preparing this little checklist for a road trip
- Getting a thorough car servicing done to check if all parts are running smoothly.
- You might need to replace your ordinary headlights with something more powerful like Led ones.
- You might need to install good fog lamps in your car for a better performance during the night, especially if you are traveling in winter.
- You might need to change your tires.
- Check if your engine oil is clean
- If the air filter is working smoothly
- Some interiors might need to be revamped to make the journey more comfortable.
Trust me, when you sit to think about it, a lot of things will come up.
It is better to do these things slowly over a period of time so that it does not burn a hole in your pocket.
Plus it will save you extra expense on the trip if your car works perfectly.
2. Never disregard weather advice
This is one of the most important road trip tips I would like to give!
India is a land known for its erratic weather conditions.
Please keep a track of the weather or keep track of the google weather forecast when you are planning a road trip.
There are enough news stories popping up now and then of stranded tourists across the country.
Surely you don’t want to be one of them.
Try to avoid the monsoons as many areas in India are prone to flooding.
Avoid going to hill stations right in the middle of harsh winter when there might be a risk of landslides or heavy fog.
Try to postpone or shift your road trip to some more convenient times.
3. Do not blindly follow the GPS
There have been many instances when our trusted GPS could not differentiate between a dirt road and a concrete road.
You can imagine the trouble if you suddenly get trapped in a dirt road.
Sometimes it also happens that the GPS is not updated with the roads under construction.
So after going ahead for a while, you find a dead end.
This happens mostly when you take a detour in the hope of hitting some short cut to reach your destination.
Be careful when you chose a short cut.
Try to access a load of traffic in that particular way.
If it is seemingly empty, do not take the risk.
It is better to take the main road than being stuck in a maze of the unknown on roads.
Unless you are absolutely sure of the short cut.
4. Do not keep an unplanned departure schedule
Many times it happens that you have prepared for almost everything but have forgotten to fix a departure schedule.
The problem will arise when you randomly get caught in a huge traffic jam before leaving your town or city.
This is especially true for people residing in big towns and metro cities.
Suppose you start your trip after having your breakfast, be sure to get caught up in the traffic that will delay your whole schedule.
And you don’t want to be late right in the beginning.
It’s best to start early in the morning like 4 or 5 depending on the feasibility.
Or it is also good to start very late at night if you are not an early riser.
Whatever you choose, plan your schedule accordingly.
When you pass through other towns and cities in day time you are bound to be caught up by traffic.
So make the most of the wee hours of the morning and late nights!
5. Avoid last-minute packing
This is something I have learned over the years.
No matter how good your memory is, if you keep things to be packed just a few hours before departing, you will surely leave something or the other behind.
Start packing at least two days in advance.
Make a list of things you need to pack.
Being on a road trip needs a lot of extra things than a regular holiday trip. So be prepared.
Do not be too apprehensive though.
You must carry personal hygiene products for the not-so-well-maintained public toilets that you have to use throughout your trip.
Taking time to pack your things will create well-packed luggage with everything you need.
6. Do not skip packing enough dry food and snack
Sometimes people tend to feel that holiday is all about eating outside.
It is not a correct mindset though. You might find yourself hungry in the middle of nowhere and your stack of snacks will be your savior then.
Often I have faced an acute shortage of food on route to the destination thinking that I will grab something on the way.
Lesson learned, now I carry enough dry food as SOS food (that’s what I call it) to last my entire trip.
7. It is a misconception that only drivers need enough sleep
The most common misconception that people have in India is that passengers are not important to drive a car.
Yes, funny as it sounds, passengers in the car add a lot to the success of the trip.
Never forget that drivers need emotional and physical company while driving.
Be it your family member or a hired driver, they must have at least one person awake with them when they drive.
Imagine the situation when the one driving the car is the only one awake when the car is passing a lonely road in the middle of the night.
Spooky and terrible! So, as a passenger, it is your moral obligation to keep your car’s driver in some company.
Be well rested before you start your trip so that you don’t only sleep sitting in the car.
8. Do not overexert on your capacity to drive
Most of the people who plan a road trip are very passionate about driving.
The sheer act of hitting the road with their favorite car is enough reason to plan a road trip.
Often, people miscalculate the amount of km they can drive before heading for rest.
And this diminishes their energy for the days to come.
Please book hotels after you have driven a stretch of say 500-600 km or less depending on your capacity.
If you do not book ahead and try to find a place to rest on the way you may have to compromise on the quality and security of the hotel.
9. Do not wait for your fuel tank to be almost empty before you refill
One of the golden rules of traveling long distances is to have a fuel tank at least half full at all times.
This will ensure you get very good mileage for highways. Plus your car will not be overheated.
Sometimes it also happens that your anticipated fuel station is closed for certain reasons.
Then you simply have to bear the stress of having to exhaust your fuel before reaching the next station.
Why give yourself a hard time when you can avoid it?
10. Do not forget to carry cash
Today all of us are used to the comfort of using our cards for almost every purchase we make.
It is super easy and hassle-free. But when you are on a road trip, going back to the traditional method is always wiser.
You have to pass through remote villages and locations and cross numerous toll plazas where cash will come most handy.
If you think ATM is abundant everywhere, you are mistaken.
Carry enough cash and replenish your cash stock from time to time before you run out completely.
Bonus Road Trip Tips
Never fall prey to over-speeding.
While the thought of running at a 100-km-per-hour tingles your adrenaline, it can cause you to incur a fine.
Yes, I have faced this too.
While on a road trip we were passing through an almost deserted beautiful forest along the interstate highway, when our car was charged with over-speeding by mobile traffic patrolling officers as we did not take note of the speed limit sign or the cameras by the road measuring speed.
It was a lot of unwanted hassle after that. PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Always drive safely.
As we come to the end of the to-be-avoided list, I hope it resolves most of your queries regarding road trip tips.
Once you get the hang of road trips, you will always want more.
And now that you know what to do, why don’t you plan your dream road trip at the earliest?
In a post COVID world, road trips are going to be popular as social distancing norms will prevail.
A road trip means a personalized trip without having to travel with a crowd.
So do give it a thought. However never fail to comply with the rules and regulations imposed by the government regarding every aspect of life.
(Cover Image Courtesy of Ankan Roon for Paperboat Holidays via Instagram)
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