Scouting the web for a place that you can visit when there is a limited time available? It is highly unlikely that a road trip has not been on your checklist. There is hardly any travel enthusiast who hasn’t dreamt of hitting those highways on a bike or a car.
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Be it the exotic stretch of Manali-Leh Highway or the exquisite golden triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. If those wide stretch roads beckon you, and those never meeting horizons and landscape make your heart go restless, a road trip is your calling.
Planning a successful road trip is a daunting task in itself. Where do you stop? How many kilometres do you want to ride per day? What if there is an emergency? Who do you call? What if road assistance does not answer? These are a few common questions that are bound to make the travellers jittery.
However, once you are on the road, instead of worrying about these endless questions, let the winds blow through your hair and make you feel like the free bird you always wanted to feel like. Explore the cultural diversity of India on your ride making new memories, friends and grow richer in experience.
Road trips are anything but getting on the highway at your whim. Absolutely not! You have to plan ahead. But where do you start? Read on; we have got the perfect checklist for you before you hit the road.
Indian roads can be trickier when it comes to following unusual routes. A bike ride is absolutely picked by many. But most of us do not consider the long-term impact of sitting on a bike. Let alone the woes if you have a pillion with you. A road trip is supposed to be fun and exciting instead of painful and nerve-wracking where you have to spend the entire trip resting on a pillow!
A hatchback or an SUV can be a choice depending on the routes you intend to take. Roads that demand a heavy-duty machine call for SUVs which are usually rated high on comfort. However, a mini sedan or a mid-size car works just fine. A proper cabin space, luggage storage abilities and you are sorted for the trip ahead.
Travel insurance for India is an absolute necessity. Unfortunate incidents and rising number of accidental cases make it only likely that you opt for domestic travel insurance for your road trip. Consider a situation where you have to meet up with your gang before commencing the trip on the highway. Air travel or a train journey is unavoidable in such circumstances. A regular road trip is also eligible for a domestic travel insurance plan.
An effective travel insurance plan is helpful in many events. Cancellations of trips, medical emergencies, loss or theft of luggage, evacuation plans, and personal accident cover are considered under a domestic travel insurance policy. Not only is a domestic travel insurance plan cost-effective but also recommended by most travel experts and bloggers.
Nonetheless, a domestic travel insurance plan makes the insurance company liable to provide you with emergency cash in case you are stranded at an unknown destination. In the case of a medical situation, which might lead to hospitalization or even surgery, a reliable domestic travel insurance plan comes to your rescue.
These insurance plans are recommended for Indian as well as foreign travellers who want to get on the road for the exclusive experience. The eligibility is simple and ranges from six months to 65 years for the travellers. Basic exclusions listed out by insurance companies involve pre medical conditions, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy-related complications, etc. Choose wisely from a myriad of plans available online and decide based on what suits your requirement the best instead of just settling for the cheapest plan available. A little investment can contribute to safeguarding your life on the road!
It hardly makes any sense to go to Leh or Ladhak during winters where all roads are practically closed because of snowfall. Therefore, it is a pre-requisite that you decide what time of the year do you wish to travel. For example, October- January is an ideal time for a road trip from Mumbai to Goa or Bangalore to Goa. Similarly, as the snow melts and opens up those high motor able highways, Leh is your place to be.
If a wildlife sanctuary is on your itinerary, you are most likely to go there during summers or winters because monsoon marks the closure of these areas. Plan ahead and focus on the weather conditions of the area before you head out to the destination.
Do you want to explore the beautiful beaches? Or do you want to go to that peaceful desert? Want to explore the diversity in a stretch? Or just a mindless ride on the road that leads you somewhere? Take your pick. India is so rich in diversity that it becomes difficult to decide on one particular destination. Therefore, plan your route and area coverage depending on the purpose of your travel.
Incredible geography and terrain sometimes make it impossible to take your ride there. However, opt for a convenient mode of travel such as train or a flight to reach your starting point before kick-starting the journey around. Explore multiple options, experiment on different routes for a more satisfying experience.
A long distant journey is deemed fruitful and enjoyable only if you have a travel companion unless you wish to ride solo. But how do you decide who comes along with you on the journey? Not someone who keeps whining for sure! Everyone is a different rider, or a driver and endurance vary from person to person. If you have a fun biker gang that wants to tag along, by every means go ahead.
When you opt to drive away on those endless roads, you need to make sure that you have a backup driver and someone who can accompany you on the side without falling asleep. Take turns, rotate the seats, make everyone comfortable for road trips are meant to be fun and not painful. The last thing you want on a perfect road trip is the noise and chatter of complaints.
If you believe that a road trip comprises only riding and driving on the road for a longer duration, then you are living in a first world bubble! Road trips are meant to explore and discover. It can be a topographical discovery or a soul-searching journey. Stop and smell the roses from time to time. Inhale the smells, feel the beauty of the area you are passing through. Observe the locals and their ways of life. It is bound to stay with you for a longer time.
Experiences are an integral part of a road trip. Not only does it help you in reading and understanding people and their perspectives, but also gives a deeper insight into acknowledging the fact that how similar and different everything and everyone is at the same time. Ensure to have a few pit stops during your journey. DO not miss the awesome tea points at the roadside dhabas along the highway stretch.
Domestic travel and a road trip on top of everything demand that you pack light. For obvious reasons a trolley or a huge suitcase is not recommended if you are on a two-wheeler. A backpack is a more suitable option. Saddle guards to support the rear, biking gear and a sturdy jacket are a few driving essentials. However, a few extra items can prove beneficial when you are on the road:
The travel junkie in you has led you to an unknown place where you are literally stranded with no hope. Locals aren’t helping you out either. So what do you do? Check your maps and that excellent navigation system on your Smartphone. Have a power bank or a USB mount just in case.
You have been riding for a while now, and you feel that your tyres are giving away. Punctures can be the riders’ worst nightmare. Having a puncture repair kit handy can save you the hassles of trying to find a mechanic in the middle of nowhere. Unknown destinations usually make travellers look like easy targets for ripping them off. Therefore, exercise extra caution and carry that kit with you at all times.
Minor Injuries, cuts, bruises, can make manoeuvring and handle difficult. An emergency first aid kit with a couple of prescription drugs can safeguard you on the trip. Prepare a list of drugs that you need to collect from the pharmacy and you should be sorted.
Accidents, breakdowns, et al. are not uncommon during road trips. Especially in India where drivers whizz through the roads without any responsibility to fellow drivers. Keep a list of helpline numbers that can be contacted in terms of A roadside assistance helpline can prevent the prolonged delays that you might have to face in case of a severe vehicle breakdown.
The explorer in you is not going to rest unless it has made through all the possible destinations. The Smartphone battery is out and charging. That is when a flashlight comes to your rescue. Pack a few batteries and carry that torch along.
A well-maintained vehicle tends to last longer on the road than the one which is not tended to. Plan and schedule a servicing day for your vehicle before you take it out for a spin. Inform the service station personnel about your plans so that they pamper your ride and make it effective and durable for the entire trip without much ado.
Ensure that you collect a few spare parts and change the engine oil. Fine tuning each and every part only makes sure that the ride will be smooth, fuel efficient, comfortable and enjoyable. Before leaving the service station, collect the list of service station details that might be present in the route of your road trip. Fill up that tank. As a precautionary measure, carry a can of fuel that will help you reach the nearest refilling destination. Most highways have petrol and diesel stations located at longer stretches. Rest assured, you won’t run short of fuel. Experts recommend that one should not wait for the fuel indicator to hit the empty sign.
Whenever you cross a state or a defined territory, you would notice a lot of toll gates and check posts. It is suggested that riders and drivers keep cash and cards on their person at all times because the toll plaza doesn’t accept any other form of payments. A valid driving license, proper vehicle documentation, road permits, No-objection certificates, entry passes for inter-state travel is essential and should be carried.
Make copies and save them on your phone, email and other cloud storage devices. Having a valid insurance and pollution control certificate keeps you clear of all the hustle and guarantees a safer and easier passage. In events of union territories, keep bills of all goods purchased handy and visible.
Except for a few night owls, most of the travellers tend to rest at night. Finding an ideal accommodation can be challenging at times. Therefore, if you want to feed the explorer in you, opt for local home-stays and hostels where you can get a taste of the local lifestyle. Verify the details of the hosts before you hop in. Multiple booking sites and travel planners spoil you with choices too.
Hitting the road gives you the much-needed adrenaline rush. Nevertheless, it is important to consider that you need to stay communicated with your loved ones. Proper reflexive actions, communication with the strangers, and a couple of tricks up your sleeves can make it a memorable experience.
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*Price shown is for a 30 day trip to Thailand with 1 lakh dollar coverage for an adult of age 25 years