Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Some tips for an Indian Road trip

1. Plan for driving  maximum of 300-400 kms a day. Purpose of the road trip is to explore and learn about this vast country, not mile munching. Also it is better to drive only in day time.

2. Start early. You should be in your vehicle by 7.00 AM max. That will save you from city traffic and help you cover more places.

3. Every nook and corner of India is replete with history. So read up on places you visit before hand and plan to visit them. In my trip to Gujarat what I saw varied from a Jurassic age fossilized tree to remnants of a 4500 year old city to an ancient temple reconstructed 70 years ago.

4. Have a flexible schedule. Don't pressurize yourself into achieving so many kilometers per day or so many places to be seen.

5. Accept that you can't see them all. India is huge. Try to take as much of it as you can. You can never see it fully.

6. Take a medicine kit with basic medicines. There's nothing a DOLO - 650 cannot cure.

7. Carry a garbage bag in the car and use it for your trash. Don't litter the places you visit.

8. Stay in comfortable hotels for the night. You will need the rest after driving so long.  Don't trust reviews in online portals. Decide on a couple of hotels based on online reviews. Visit them, check the room (and bathroom) before paying up.

9. You can negotiate hotel tariffs. Mostly you will be checking in by evening. So tell them that you are using it only for half a day. You can get a 30-40% discount on rack rates. As of now, for Rs. 2500.00-3000.00 per night you can get decent rooms in most Indian cities. With Air conditioning, clean linen, car parking and free wifi.

10. Don't wait for complimentary breakfast in hotels. Check out early and hit the road. You can always have Vada Pav on the road or Cup noodles before you start.

11. Be adventurous with food (if you are an Indian.) Avoid standard Naan - Paneer Butter Masala. Try the local cuisine.

12.  If you think you need 1000 songs for a week's trip, take double that number. A good music collection makes the drive more enjoyable.

13. Know the local statutory regulations. Gujarat has liquor prohibition. You don't want to be caught with liquor when they check your vehicle. And trust me, the police will check other state registered vehicles often.

14. Fuel up when your tank is half empty. Don't push it till reserve. There will be stretches where the next petrol pump is 50-60 kms away.

15. Digital payments (cards and e wallets) work for fuel and hotel rent in India. Food is mostly cash in highways. Toll payments can be made by credit cards / e wallets. I tried paying toll by cards from Bhuj to Chennai. Except for three toll plazas in Karnataka all others accepted them.

16. Keep enough cash. Roughly 15-20% of your trip budget. Don't trust ATMs to dispense cash, atleast for the next 6 months.

17. Most of the Indians are warm and friendly. Talk to them.

18. Hire Guides when visiting historical monuments.

19. You are going to be with your fellow traveler in close quarters for long duration. Invariably tempers will flare up. Some sulking will be there. That is part of the trip experience. Don't hang on to it. Let it go and get back to normal as soon as possible.

20. A good vehicle, great companion and a little bit of craziness is all that is needed for a good road trip. Go out and enjoy this vast country.


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