From our road trips in the last several years, this is a distilled list of tips that have helped make our journeys so much more pleasant. Do comment if you have more things you do that you’d like to share too!
Take from Home
- Water is your friend. Stay hydrated and carry at least 3 bottles of water from home for 2 people. To avoid increasing your carbon footprint and if you have decent immunity, do request restaurants to refill your bottles with drinking water. After you have paid for your meal there, they are usually very willing. Carry a 2 lt bottle(at least) of tap water to wash fruits you may purchase on your way from the farmers and to wash your hands after you eat them. Also, carry baby wipes/wet wipes for the latter use.
- Carry old newspapers. They are marvellous to use in lieu of tissues, wipes, and just to spread on the ground for an impromptu picnic if that’s what you feel like.
- Carry non-perishable snacks from home if feasible. In some tourist places, you may not find food till the neighbouring town and the only options may be deep fried stuff in packaging more filled with air than food. Anand finds chewing gum helps him from feeling drowsy while driving on endless highways. (Note: Get rest and sleep if you’re actually exhausted. Do not push yourself then. It’s a safe road-trip, not an endurance test risking your own lives and that of others on the road.)
- Use one cover/basket just for garbage inside the car. You can empty it when you see a garbage bin.
- Do buy from farmers by the highway, especially fruits, palm jaggery and even honey combs! We’ve rarely been disappointed. They make significantly healthier snacks too. Needless to say get some tender coconut water when you pass by it. It’s refreshing, delicious and naturally free from contamination 🙂
- Carry a small pouch with change. It helps at toll booths and paying vendors for small items without searching all over the place and multiple purses.
- Carry one set of cutlery- a small knife (to cut fruits), a spoon (to eat unhealthy snacks with without getting them all over your hands), and a fork.
- Before your trip, download offline maps on your phone if you have the option.
- Even if you don’t want to book your hotels in advance, be aware of the closest towns/cities so you know which direction to head to once it’s later in the day.
- Get a good playlist of upbeat songs.(some of which you can sing along with while being severely off-tune). Slower songs though lovely for a relaxed evening at home are sleep-accelerators after a delicious local meal you’ve indulged in on your trip.
- Carry a power bank and have a charger you can plug into your car. Clicking pictures, looking up details of places and using maps drains battery faster than you realise.
- If feasible, download content related to the history of the place or the monuments you are going to visit. It seems most interesting just before and just after getting there and a random interesting tit-bit makes it that much more fun.
- Try some random games in the car- we’ve found 20 questions to be both aggravating and entertaining (depending on which side you’re on). It’s also an excellent undisturbed time to trade childhood stories and often detailed stories of your favourite movie that your fellow travellers haven’t watched yet. Or maybe that’s just us. Try different ones and see what you enjoy.
- Fuel up as soon as your indicator goes off. Being stuck without fuel on a lonely highway in the dark is not safe at all.
- Do these checks before you leave
- Headlamps, taillamps and indicators. You don’t want to be driving blind at night.
- Water-level in the wiper – Helps to get rid of unwanted dust and bird droppings on your windshield (they happen more often than you’d like)
- Tyre pressure on all tyres including the standby one.
- That you have the car tools in the car at all times.
On the way
- Take breaks to stretch your limbs or take a short stroll, especially for the driver. Neck, feet, arms, legs and back could all use a good stretch. The fellow passenger could enforce the break taking 🙂
- Ask locals (and sometimes petrol station staff) for food recommendations – they often know of the only modest but good restaurant in a small dusty town.
- Seems silly but check different seat alignments to see what treats your backbone the best. Something as simple as that removes the strain from a long trip on the road. Carrying small cushions also helps and a neck pillow if you plan to take a nap.
- Inform someone at home of where you’re going and where you’d be staying the night. It reduces their anxiety and helps in case of emergencies.
- Stop and stare– there’s often beauty all along the way – whether in an unnamed lake with migratory birds, a field of marigolds in bright orange or a sky filled with stars like you’ve never seen before.