All of us have at some time or the other just jumped into a car and taken off for a trip on an impulse. This is fine as long as it's a short trip on familiar roads. Being impulsive when it come to long distance trips means you are very heavily depending on lady luck and she's as fickle as fickle can be. So always plan and prepare well. This leaves little room for error and will go a long way in making your driving holiday enjoyable. Remember that a well planned holiday that runs along without any glitches will encourage you and have you looking forward to taking more such holidays with your car.
Planning a Driving Holiday
Birds of a feather. . . Try and plan a trip with like-minded people. It's okay if a person doesn't drive, but he or she should enjoy road travel. When you are travelling with family too, it vital that they enjoy motoring. All members should have a passion for it, albeit even a very minor one, the passion has to be there.
Come together Meet up over a drink or a meal and plan your holiday. This can be a lot of fun as it builds up the excitement of an upcoming holiday. Plus, together you'll have more ideas coming forth. Even if you can't meet up due to tight schedules plan over the net. Have a group chat!
Essentially you've got to decide in order of priority
1. When you want to go? Start planning at least 3 weeks before your planned departure date. This will give you ample of time to apply for leave and to get your car serviced and prepared.
2. Where you want to go and if that place is feasible during that time. Choose a place that is nice to go during the time you are planning to go. It is ridiculous to plan to go to Ladakh in May because the passes are snow- bound, but Kinnaur and Spiti would be ideal.
3. Which car? If you have a choice of cars, try and choose the car that will be most suitable for your destination. For example, if there are just two people travelling a small car is suitable because it's not fully loaded and the engine would give you enough pep to overtake trucks and buses on the highway. For long distances and three to four people, a midsize or big car is more suitable as they have more luggage-carrying capacity and can eat miles at a faster rate, which means less driving time and fatigue.
4. Decide on a budget Keep in mind that fuel efficiency drastically reduces on hill roads -- figure that into your fuel calculations too. Remember to consider incidentals and consumables too like tips, water, tea, biscuits and cigarettes. Over a number of days these add up to a considerable sum. Once you've come to a figure, carry twice that amount. The extra bit should be your emergency money. If you have a breakdown and your car needs to be towed, the towing charges itself can cost anything between Rs 500 to Rs 5,000. The more desolate the place, the more your emergency amount should be.
5. Book Accommodation Places to stay can be all booked up, especially if you're going in peak tourist season. If you decide to change your plans en route, inform the hotel about the same. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving after a long drive looking forward to a shower and a bed, and then running from pillar to post to look for a room.
Work out a rough timetable Okay, the advantage of your own car is that you don't need to stick to timetables. But yet it is better to make a rough one that will give you an estimate about the time you have and the number of extra days you can spend in places you like best.
Read about the places This will help you plan the number of days you need to spend in a particular place. This book will also tell you the condition of roads and the time you'll need to cover them. But road conditions change, so you could also try and find out the present conditions of the roads around the places you plan to visit. Remember the 100km from Mumbai to Lonavala will take less time than say 70-odd km between Ranikhet and Kausani due to narrow mountain roads.
Plan your journeys so that you avoid driving at night Not only is this dangerous but it also doesn’t allow you to admire the scenic beauty of places you drive past. But, there’s something exciting about driving up desolate roads like the one from Dindigul to Kodaikanal or the one from Pipariya to Pachmarhi at night. Be warned that it is not an adventure without risk and you need to be extra careful while doing this. Make a note of authorised service stations on the way in case your car needs attention. Some car manufacturers also have 24-hour helpline numbers and it is good sense to keep that number handy.
Short and sweet Ideally the distance you drive should reduce every day to flatten out at a comfortable distance of 250 to 300km a day. This means that you could easily put in 650 to 700km on the first day, but this would be very strenuous and quite pointless, to maintain throughout. So what you could do is drive around 600km the first day, 400 on the second and then maintain the distance at 250km a day. It is also very advisable to have at least two drivers to share the driving. Remember that you're on a holiday, not in a rally. Factor in days with no driving at all too. Keep in mind that an early morning start can reduce your driving time by up to three hours.
Read about your destinations Invest in a good guidebook that focuses on the place and things to do there
Issue: 165 | May 2013
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