There is something very intriguing about the idea of picking up the keys, choosing a direction and heading out. Cars give us a freedom that no flight or train ever will. Instead of hopping between envelopes of cultures and sceneries, they give us a real taste of how cultures and landscapes shift across geographies. They allow us to experience travel in its purest sense.
However, we don’t always have the freedom to just choose a direction and drive away. Most of us have meetings to engage in, timelines to follow, events to attend and commitments to keep and with limited time in hand, it becomes important to properly plan road trips.
What starts as an inspiration triggered by someone’s Instagram post is usually followed by searches about the destination, driving directions, blogs and anything else that can offer the slightest hint of information about the route. The journeys aren’t always predictable and we all prefer to spend more time on the road than at home figuring things out. To make sure things go that way, here is a guide on how to plan a perfect road trip.
Determine the flavour
Who will you be travelling with? Before choosing a destination and route, think of the flavour you want for your road trip. For any journey, it is important to have a company of people who have similar expectations from the trip as you; even something as seemingly small as different music tastes can dilute the fun of the road trip. If you are travelling with people having different tastes, consider planning a shorter trip packed with more activities instead of a longer one.
Keeping the number of available days and flavour of your trip in mind, look at the places you can travel to. Keep your daily driving distances limited and don’t place stiff timelines for yourself based on driving times displayed on Google Maps. Road trips are about savouring the experience and creating memories than just sprinting through landscapes to cover more miles. Ideally, you should arrive at your overnight halt by lunch to have enough time to explore the area and take proper rest before you set off again the next morning.
Once you have shortlisted some destinations and roads, start tapping into resources for more information about them. Social media is your best friend here. Seek help from your Facebook network and look up travelogues of other travellers. The idea is to have a list of attractions and activities, not just for the destination but for places en route too, to draft a loosely knit plan. Also ask for routes better than what Google Maps is suggesting because often, the most beautiful routes aren’t the fastest and are thus missed out. Leave some room for impromptu plans and alternate courses you might discover once on the road.
Prepare the vehicle
If you will be driving your own vehicle, it is advisable to either check the vehicle yourself or visit your trusted mechanic for the same, ideally a few days before setting off so that you can be sure there are no issues. Check for wiper fluid, engine oil, brake fluid and top them up or change as required. Also check the tyres, including the spare, for sufficient tread, correct pressure and any visible cracks. Tyres and brakes experience higher wear during long-distance high-speed driving, and so they should be in top shape. You can find a more elaborate checklist for your vehicle here.
If you are opting for a rental, pick the vehicle a day before and check it thoroughly before driving away. Adhering to popular rental companies like Zoomcar and Myles allow for better support due to their wide geographical presence compared to local rental shops. Consider choosing less popular vehicles as you will generally get them with lower odo reading.
Sign up for support
Most car manufacturers, and even premium motorcycle manufacturers offer roadside assistance services to offer support for when your vehicle starts throwing surprises. Check with your car manufacturer for the extent of coverage and save the support contact. If your car is older and isn’t covered by the manufacturer anymore, you can sign up for third-party roadside assistance services like Bajaj Allianz and TLC assist that offer good coverage.
It is advisable to be equipped for the road when you are driving long distances. Apart from accessories to keep your devices powered up, equip yourself for situations that may arise on the road. A proper toolkit is a must, along with towing ropes, jump leads, puncture repair kit, emergency hammer, portable tyre inflator and torch. Even if you have a limited mechanical know-how, other road users might be able to help with access to right tools.
If you are planning to camp, borrow or rent a tent in advance instead of paying more for them at touristy campsites. If travelling with a kid, a proper child seat is a must. Also if you want to record your trip, consider carrying an action camera like GoPro which can shoot the journey without much intervention. It isn’t always easy to choose between enjoying the wide corner and stopping to take a photo.
While our everyday lives have shifted online with increasing dependence on cloud services, it is a good idea to not rely too much on data connectivity. Before setting off, make sure you have saved your playlists and maps offline. Most of the popular music streaming services and mapping apps offer the option to store data offline, for short term in some cases, but that should do the job for a trip.
Carry enough funds in cash and plastic money to do the same trip more than once. While fuel and accommodation take the biggest share of expenses during a road trip, you can cut down on them by booking accommodation in advance and opting for fuel rewards on credit cards. Over long driving distances, these savings add up. For tolls and food, it is advisable to carry cash, including plenty of change to speed up the process. While most tollbooths in India accept digital payments now, toll tags and cash are still the fastest way to get through the booths.
Simplifying road trips
While planning a road trip is exciting, it is often time-consuming and the discovery process is chaotic. The inspiration for new places often comes from blog posts over the internet and social media posts from our friends but they are not so easy to find when we are actually looking for ideas for a trip.
Driven by a bunch of road trip enthusiasts, EasyRoads tries to address these challenges and neatly wrap the whole process of planning a road trip into an app. Right from suggesting unique destinations and beautiful roads to offering travel gear and roadside support, the app serves as your companion for the road. You can find more details and inspiration for your next epic adventure, at www.easyroads.in