A road trip can be the perfect start to your weekend getaway. It can be a bonding experience among friends and family. Or probably a way to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city for some peace and quiet. After a number of hits and misses, here are our top road trip tips to follow for a fun and successful experience. So use this road trip planner, get started on that mixtape, pop your bags in the trunk and get ready to burn some rubber on the open road!
Clean and check your car
Clean your car before and during your trip. There’s nothing that can spoil a trip more than having to spend 10 hours or more in a confined space with crinkling candy wrappers, leftover soda cans and the thing at the corner of your windshield that was once blue but is now turning brown and looks like it’s breathing.
Don’t forget to get your car checked by a mechanic before you leave. Brakes, engine oil, tire pressure and everything in between. You don’t want to get stuck on the road and spend the rest of your trip pushing your car around.
Always be prepared
A road trip, like any other adventure you embark upon, needs preparation Stock up your car with about 2 days worth of dry food and water (canned food, granola bars). Make sure you have all your documents in place.
Have a list of emergency contacts in your glove box. Carry a spare tire and learn how to change a tire in case you have to deal with a flat.
Always carry a spare key on your person. It may seem like an obvious thing to do but it is easy to misplace them; I have locked myself out of my car in several instances. A good way to make sure you never lose your spare set is by hooking it onto your belt buckle.
Make a loose plan
Never make a strict road plan to follow. It’s a good idea to plan out which cities you would like to hit on the way and rest at. And also how many hours a day you want to travel, but no more than that. Being relatively clueless may have its benefits.
What if I showed you a picture of the Taj Mahal, a fortress of solitude, rising high with gleaming white towers in all its beauty? And then you reached this heritage site only to find it duller than the pictures and swarming with tourists. You’d be a little disappointed, won’t you?
When you don’t know what to expect, you leave a lot of room for discovery. And who doesn’t like discovering things on their own? A loose plan and your own vehicle give you the freedom to move around and discover places off the map.
Set and Share
It’s important to set a limit for the number of hours you are going to travel a day, and stick to it. I usually keep a maximum limit of 10-12 hours a day. Divide the work amongst yourselves.
There are a number of different and important responsibilities to expedite. Some are navigation, planning meals and driving. Find out which of your friends is the perfect fit for the job.
Driving can get tiring so it’s always a good idea to make frequent stops and share the wheel.
While you have the radio at your disposal, it’s better to preload your favourite songs onto your media device beforehand. Create a playlist so it doesn’t distract you from driving.
If you are sitting beside the driver, keep in mind that driving can get a bit monotonous after awhile. So it’s up to you to keep your pal awake with some loud and groovy tunes.
I download audiobooks to listen to on our trips, for those spells of long awkward silences everyone’s too familiar with.
Pack light, Pack smart
Choose a small bag, it’ll take up less space and less likely to overpack. Carry a duffel bag or a backpack rather than a suitcase. Remember, you will be returning back with more things (like memorabilia) than you go with.
Carry cleansing products like toilet paper, sanitizer or wet wipes.
A jacket or hoodie can save you from freezing into a popsicle. Travel sickness is often associated with long road trips, carry an assortment of mint flavoured gum or candy. Many people find that a refreshing minty flavour can reduce nausea.
Never rely on Zomato or Yelp ratings, skip the pizza huts and KFC. Also, beware the endless shopping malls that line the highways. Get off the road and ask a local for a good place where you can grab a meal. A lot of the time the tiniest and quaintest places dish up the most succulent food, not to mention they are lighter on the pocket than big chain restaurants.
Driving a car or riding in one for hours isn’t very comfortable, make sure you stretch every time you make a pit stop to avoid cramps, your body will thank you later.
We’d done a blog on serial traveller Ashok Karkera, who vouches for local food, every time!
“Hotels don’t have much to offer in terms of gastronomical experiences, it’s the street food that defines the cuisine. “
“No Cellphone rule”
Road trips are a time to bond with friends or family. They are all about being wild and embracing the open roads. Try and minimise your interactions with your cell phone and other gadgets. Use your phone only for outgoing calls.
However, make sure you call up family or close friends back home and keep them in the loop. Let them know you’re safe, where you are and where you plan on heading out to, so they know where to find you during an emergency.
Games on the Go
The open road can seem endless at times. Think of fun road games that you can play on the way to pass your time like “I Spy” or “21 questions”. We usually play the theme song game where one person hums a popular theme song and the rest of the people in the car need to guess the name.
Bring out the child in you with a friendly game of “Punch Buggy”. In this game, you punch your neighbour lightly on the arm and yell punch buggy whenever you spot a certain type of car (Obviously the driver should be excluded from this game).
If you run out of games to play make up your own, be on the lookout for funny sign boards.
You’ll get lots of photo opportunities on the way, from the sun setting over the mountains to the bonfire you lit with you last matchstick or even the time Fred tripped and fell face first into that puddle of water on the side of the road. Take loads of pictures and not just for Instagram.
The best and most invaluable thing you can take away from your road trip are memories and these pictures will help keep those memories alive.
It’s time to now put our road trip tips to test.
We’ve got loads of options when it comes to road trips!
Go spend some time with the ones you love or get that much needed alone time!
If you’re looking for some more inspiration, do read about Mr Steve Yi’s epic road trip from Mumbai to Kerala
Not quite what you’re looking for? Fret not! How about you discover some other cool adventures for this season?