Road-trips are one of the safer travel options in the current times. Even otherwise, a few of us have always preferred hitting the road over buying a ticket. All you need is a car, a tankful of gas, and good company.
Because it’s easy, what a lot of us do ignore at times, is planning. So, to make your lives easier, sharing below our pre-roadtrip checklist. Just bookmark it and have a quick glance before you turn on the ignition for your next adventure.
1. Start fresh and well rested
We can’t really emphasize this enough. Starting a long drive when you’re tired, either physically or mentally, is like a ticking time bomb. It is dangerous both for yourself and others on the road. We don’t recommend a time of the day here because each one of us has their own body clock.
2. Use the “keep offline” feature on your phone liberally
Yes, we are in the information age and yes, we do have amazing mobile data speeds in our cities. But as you step out of the urban jungle, things change. You might need to cross a road which goes through a reserve forest or your network provider might just not be serving a patch on the highway. Our suggestion is to keep important stuff downloaded/offline on your phones before heading out. Listing down some basics, you can always add to it.
- Maps for navigation. All major apps support the feature, including our favorite Google Maps. Make sure you have the entire route available offline.
- Maps for the destination. Sometimes, the best way to explore a town or a beach is on foot. As you walk around, you get the opportunity to talk to the locals and have ample time to just sit and observe. Having an offline map of the surrounding area really helps in such times. You can explore the alleys and the local eateries, without the fear or concern of losing your way.
- Your travel playlist. We all know that feeling. Singling along with the track and then it starts buffering right in the middle of your favorite lyrics. The DJ pausing before “O-ho-ho-o” on Sukhwinder’s Ishq is magic, but not so much on a roadtrip. Easy solution- download all your favorites and leave the buffering back at home.
3. Stock up on snacks and beverages
Nothing prolongs a road trip than frequent unplanned breaks for buying snacks and beverages. While stopping at that popular dhaba or eatery is a must, stopping for chips and juices is a waste. Stock up enough for the entire trip.
Also, having multiple short sips of water or juice keeps you hydrated, alert and energized. It also prevents the need of frequent bio-breaks.
4. Mark popular eateries and clean washrooms on your route
Nobody can overcome nature. A restroom break every few hours is a must. And considering the “swacchh” state of washrooms across Indian highways, we highly recommend you mark the clean ones that you do find. It helps when you are crossing the same place again, or on your way back.
If you are crossing a town, just head into the biggest supermarket or jeweler that you find on your way. While one of you can check-out the stuff that you probably won’t buy, the other one can explore their restroom facilities. If you are amongst the courteous ones, buy a small token item that you would use anyway.
For instance, we bought a set of handkerchiefs from a cloth shop in Bidar where we had primarily stopped for using the restroom.
5. Do a quick check on your vehicle
Nothing worse than being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a car that just broke down or a flat tyre. With the durability associated with modern cars, a basic check before starting a trip can go a long way in avoiding these situations.
- Check air pressure in all tyres, including the spare.
- Check oil levels and top-up the wiper fluid.
- Keep a puncture repair kit handy, and preferably buy a portable inflater.
- Learn to fix a puncture and change a tyre on your own.
- Buy a safety device. These typically contain a seat-belt cutter, an emergency torch and a hammer for breaking the window panes if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation. We own the below example and it serves the purpose well.
6. Take that extra set of keys along
Nothing worse than losing your only car key 1000 kms away from your home. Better take the alternate key along and hand it over to the most dependable person in the gang before starting. You know the one who is always organized, always knows where all their stuff is packed and never passes out drunk.
7. Drive during the day as much as possible
Indian highways are filled with idiots. From random jaywalkers to parked trucks, there’s nothing that should surprise you. Our recommendation is to strictly avoid night driving, specially on undivided highways.
Expressways and divided highways are still OK, but slow down a bit at night compared to the day. Let that sleep-deprived, under-skilled and over-speeding Volvo driver overtake you. It’s not a race.
As far as we’re concerned, we have a strict speed limit that we adhere to without fail. Undivided highways – 60kmph, divided highways with U-turns/crossings – 80kmph, expressways – as per law.
8. Top-up your FasTag
With the increased adoption and the convenience, this one it a no-brainer. Top-up your FasTag with enough balance for the entire journey. It’s the smoothest way through all the tool booths. You might also be able to use it for re-fueling and parking in the future.
9. Check for parking availability at your destination
Yes, once you reach the destination, driving around to find a safe parking spot can be a big bummer. If you have a reservation in a hotel, check if they have parking facilities. Otherwise, Google the parking situation at your destination.
10. Carry enough cash for food, fuel and breakdowns
As popular as online payments are, you would be surprised with the number of petrol pumps who will simply not accept any mode of payment except cash once you step out of the city. The same is true for dhabas and local garages, just in case you need to visit one.
Therefore, we recommend to take enough cash that can take care of your re-fueling and food expended, and a bit extra.
11. Enjoy the journey
The best part about road-trips is that the journey stars as soon as you step out of your home. Don’t get stuck up on reaching the destination. The journey is the adventure. Happiness is a journey.
Do let us know in the comments below if you found the list helpful. Also, do add your points, if we have missed out on something.