India is a land of diverse landscapes, crisscrossed with rivers, lined with mountain ranges, with oceans bordering us on three sides and the mighty Himalayas guarding us in the North. The Thar desert, forest cover, hill stations, scenic valleys, ultra-modern cities we have it all. And what better way to explore these pristine locations than a road trip. A road trip not only allows exploring the destination but also the journey which in itself is a wonderful experience. Stop by a stream, take some pictures, relax and head out to your destination at your own will. You can also explore some places that you didn't know. Stop wherever you feel like, enjoy the locality, book a room for the night and continue on your journey the next day. Who wouldn't like such freedom! But there is a lot more that goes into planning a road trip to make it a memorable one and not the one that makes you cringe even at the thought of a road trip. You wouldn't want to get lost in a remote location, or something as small as insects bothering you while you camp at the riverside. So here we have a 7 point checklist that you need to cross-check before you head out for your destination.
1. BASIC ESSENTIALS
First of all, you need to check and confirm your ride. You can either head out in your vehicle or rent a car or bike. Own vehicle makes more sense since you are aware of the condition of your ride and would make necessary repair or overhauling before the trip. While the rented vehicle may be having some glitch that you are not aware of. If you don't have access to your vehicle you better rent the vehicle from a trusted rental agency. Also, have a look at the agreements before signing about who is liable for any damages that may occur. I have gone through this horror twice so believe me when I recommend this. Coming to other general tips you must check the important documents like your Driving License, Registration, Insurance policy. Make a spare copy of these documents as well. You must also have a hard copy of the vehicle manual with tips and steps for handling basic issues with the vehicle. You must have a spare tire, puncture repair kit, battery jumper cables, pressure gauge and other tools like a spanner, wrenches etc.
2. SAFETY & SECURITY ESSENTIALS
Now that you are done finalizing your ride you must move to the next most important aspect. Your safety and security. You don't know all that lies ahead. Life is a mystery and however well you know anything, always be prepared for the worst. That's the whole point of writing this piece. Do thorough research about your destination. Book your hotel rooms. For example, if you are travelling with your partner you might look for a couple friendly hotel or hotels for unmarried couples depending upon your relationship status. Rental space has undergone a tremendous revolution in India and you can find their reach to far-flung areas. Check your route and add pit stops for relaxing. You can also book hotels by the hour and pay only for the time you stay there thus making this pit stop economical for you. Don't forget to check if the hotel offers a 24-hour check-in facility as you may land up anytime there.
You can have a paper map of the area and even download the offline maps in Google Maps. This will help you even when you are offline. You should always have some cash in your pockets as the check-in check out won't be as smooth in some locations as it was in the hotel in Bangalore during last summer. You should also pack in a first aid kit, a torch, a mosquito repellent and large water bottles. These few items will come handy when some untoward incident occurs and the nearest town is miles away.
3. LOCATION SPECIFIC ESSENTIALS
We all know how climate changes in India as we travel to its different parts. The land is full of mystery and its climate is no different, however, planning is what helps us overcome these uncertainties. For example, if you are planning a road trip to Assam from Kolkata on a bike, make sure you have packed a raincoat as it rains frequently there. Have a pair of gumboots if you are riding through muddy roads in Northeast or the water crossings in Ladakh. You may also need to carry portable fuel carriers if there are no gas stations for a long stretch on the way. You need to spend some time figuring out all possible things that you may need for the journey depending on the specific location.
4. COMMUNICATION & ENTERTAINMENT ESSENTIALS
Well, you need to be connected with the outside world even when travelling. You should know what mode of communication works in the area. For example, only postpaid sim of BSNL and Airtel work in Ladakh. So, arrange for it if you don't own one. Similarly, you should always carry a portable charger for your phone. You never know when your battery runs out of juice.
On a road trip and no music! That's pretty lame. Make a kick ass playlist and keep yourself entertained. Always use Bluetooth or USB stick for music as it is illegal and unsafe to use your mobile phone while driving. Other must-haves are cameras, preferably DSLRs for best photos. Action cameras or dashboard cams are a must if you want to record every moment of this journey. If you are travelling solo keep a book or two to keep you engaged when you are not on the road. Have some fun games too if travelling with family-like Tambola or Monopoly to keep everyone engaged.
5. COMFORT ESSENTIALS
With a few items, you can travel as well be close to comfort. The whole point of this road trip is to enjoy so better take everything that you can pack easily. Don't forget the sunglasses that will make you look cooler and also block the sunshine. Pack your neck pillow, a travel mug with a sealable lid, reusable water bottles, Window shades, reusable bags, towel etc. You should also pack a hand sanitizer especially after this coronavirus scare and avoid touching anything that may be liable to infect you. You should also pack your slippers in case you want to wander around your pit stop. A light blanket may also be useful if travelling to a cold location. Add a day pack to your essentials if you plan on going on a hiking or trekking to carry your essentials like water, sunscreen etc.
6. PERSONAL CARE ESSENTIALS
You definitely would like to look your best while travelling but since you cannot go to the parlor you need to have all that you may require. Baby wipes, lip balm, hairbrush or comb, hair clips, sunscreen, moisturizer, trimmers, hair straightener etc. The list is long so only keep items that you really need and don't overburden yourself. One thing that I always forget is my toothbrush kit. Pack these and your mouthwash for that quick refreshing feeling. Also, don't forget the tissue box.
7. MISCELLANEOUS ESSENTIALS
These are something that you may or may not need depending upon the location that you are visiting and the duration of your visit. Have some dry snacks to satisfy your hunger pangs, keep a garbage bag to store the occasional garbage and throw it into the nest bin that you see. You may also carry a cooler to keep your beer or juice or cold drinks. Instant noodles and a small stove or electric kettle may come in handy at times. And yes you may carry a Swiss knife as it may be useful in several situations.
Definitely, no checklist can be exhaustive and you need to properly plan for your road trip. However, this guide serves as a starting point for your journeys and covers most of the aspects. Just remember, safety should always be your utmost priority and it should never be sacrificed even if it costs you the trip. Rest assured, use this checklist for your road trip. Hopefully, this guide will help you save some money and you will enjoy your road trip to the maximum extent.
Not sure where to go next and leave behind all the buzz of city life. Check out the 7 Indian Destinations To Unwind And Destress Yourself.
You might want to read the 5 Smart Strategies To Travel Solo. There is also The To Do List: A complete travel guide for your First Solo Trip that you will surely find useful.