As exciting as a road trip sounds, it still requires a lot of planning. Whether you are travelling solo, as a couple or in a group here are some tips to keep in mind before you hit the road.
The right day
Long weekends spell family holidays, but for a road trip you probably want to avoid long weekends. Reason being, traffic snarls. Being stranded in serpentine traffic takes away all the fun of a road trip and will be a major turn off for the person driving. If you still choose a public holiday or long weekend then begin your drive early in the morning. You’ll have to forfeit some sleep but if you’re lucky, you may catch the rising sun.
Identify pit stops
When calculating travel hours, allot for sufficient break time. If there are elderly or children travelling with you then you may need to take more frequent breaks. You need not always halt for a washroom or restaurant break. Just halt to soak in the scenery and stretch yourself for a few minutes. Decide in advance if you will be making any stop overs for the night. If yes, make advance bookings for the same. Everyone in the group may have different thresholds for how long they can endure a car drive. Check with each passenger in advance so that there are no surprises en route.
Roads trips, on occasion, take you through different climatic conditions. Starting from the plains you may be headed out to the hills or you may hit rain on the way. Therefore knowing your route is important. Wear comfortable clothes that can be layered. Pack in a manner that makes weather appropriate protection easily accessible.
Food and first aid
If you are leaving in the wee hours of dawn then breakfast at restaurants may not be available yet. Also, since you want to navigate out of the city before the peak hour traffic starts, you have no time to waste. Therefore keep snacks and water handy. When packing the snacks, divide and pack so that passengers in the front seats don’t have to reach back for food. The last thing you need is food spilling in your vehicle. A first aid kit in the vehicle has to include salves and bandages for injuries, medicines for heat stroke, upset stomach, motion sickness and headaches. Keep a garbage bag in the car for any waste that needs to be disposed. Chocolate wrappers and toll receipts do amount to a lot of trash.
A few must have are spare money, a notebook, pen, flashlight, toilet roll, medicine kit, sunglasses, power bank or USB cord, reading glasses, travel pillow, travel mug, hand sanitizer or wet wipes and a swiss army knife. These items should be easily accessible.
Atleast a week before your trip get your vehicle serviced. Check the engine oil, coolants, windshield wiper liquid, lights and indicator. While on the trip, check the tyre pressure every morning before heading out. Do carry spares like headlight and indicator bulbs.
What’s a road trip without good music? Don’t forget to take along a collection of everyone’s favourite music copied on a pen drive. You don’t want to be only listening to your favourite music at the cost of boring the other passengers.
Check your route before your start and share the same with your co-driver. This helps to avoid any confusion later and you can avoid high traffic zones. Google maps are a boon but not 100% reliable. Rather than going around in circles just ask people for directions. That will not just ensure you are on the right path but is also an opening gambit to a conversation with a stranger.
Road trips with children require some extra planning. If you do not want to hear ‘are we there yet’ for the nth time it is important to keep the children engaged. You could submerge them in electronic games, however a road trip is also an opportunity to engage their curiosity and knowledge. Inform them in advance about the amount of time they will be spending in the car and encourage them to plan games and other activities.
A group road trip with multiple vehicles has a few more challenges. Driving at the same pace and looking out for each other is tiring and a distraction too. So it would be best to decide on way-points along the route where everyone can catch-up. Also, a communications person should be nominated to ensure everyone gets the required message and sends the necessary response.
At the outset, decide who else will be sharing the driving responsibility and when your next change will be. One passenger [whoever is best at it] can be responsible for reading maps and giving directions. Before and during the trip, the car will need cleaning. You could take turns to clean the car to make sure the job is done and no one person gets all the load.
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