Friday, October 28, 2016

How to Plan the Perfectly Happy Road Trip in India!

Imagine sniffing fresh air, open vistas, rolling meadows, sturdy rivers, hanging cliffs, meandering slopes, humble hutments and cheerful village folk: yes, that’s just a small part of the entire picture that road tripping in India can paint for you.

Road trips are always exciting as they give you an amazing opportunity to step out into the unknown! However, with miles of highways and long stretches of monotonous landscape to stare into, they can sometimes be pretty challenging too. You really don’t want to start out thrilled but come back feeling drained and exhausted, right? A bit of effort from your side in planning before the trip starts can take you a long way ensuring that you come back happy – with so many memories to savour and even more stories to tell. As I am all set to embark on my much awaited road trip to Pandarpur on the banks of Bhima river in Solapur district, Maharashtra this Diwali season, I thought why not share my top tips for planning the perfectly happy road trip in India with everyone? Here goes my list!

How to plan the perfectly happy road trip in India.
May Lord Ganesha remove all the obstacles in our journey.

1. Choosing a destination that is right for you.

This is perhaps the most exciting part of planning a road trip and one point that is usually picked up by my dad. Being the traveller that he is, he loves to pick up that map and filter places where he might like to take his next yatra leaving us with ample of alternatives to choose from. Not only is the scuttling among the varied travel options a fun activity but also a very integral part of your planning board.

Significant factors have to be taken into account here like the budget you will be allotting for your travels and the number of days that you are having in hand. For example, if you are travelling from Mumbai like we do, a destination like Pune would be a better option for a short weekend trip over a destination like Dwarka in Gujarat which requires a good 5 days to cover all the places around.

Choosing the destination that is right for you can truly set the tempo making for a far more happy and fun road trip.

2. Do your research so that you are not completely lost.

Once the destination is zeroed on, the next thing that counts is the research that you are going to do. Trust me, it’s one of the most important things to do if you dream of having that happy, fun and fulfilling road trip for yourself.

This is not to say that getting lost or being spontaneous is not a good thing, in fact it’s a great thing getting lost and experiencing the unexpected especially during your drive on road trips. Taking that interesting detour and chancing upon something totally new, changing plans so as to explore that route that seems to be beckoning you or drinking chai with the locals in their homes and swapping stories that strike meaningful conversations and heartful laughters – these are what makes a road trip so exciting as it sounds. But all the laxity taken into account, you should still ensure you are in the driver’s seat while enjoying the flexibility on the plans.

Take a detour Dharamsala
Taking the road less travelled in Dharamsala.

Research can check this point for you. There are several apps and websites out there to help you like Road Trip Planner that come loaded with information for free. These planners allow you to create a customizable Road trip itineraries and plans within minutes covering information on places to see, places to stay, things to do - all laid out as one complete schedule for you based on your travel preferences! The point here is you don’t really have to plan everything out to a T. All you have to do is get a fairly organised idea on everything that you wish to be covered from your end and then leave it open so that you can change it according to what you discover along the way!

Consider answering these questions for example:

What are the places I’d like to see?
Are there any amazing viewing points enroute that I would never want to miss out on?
How about browsing alternative plans to the same destination for more ideas?

3. Stack up your food but don’t forget to stop at a roadside dhaba.

Roads make me hungry… for more sights, more smells, for the highway, the valleys and the cliffs and for FOOD!

Talking of food, one of the things I love about driving on the open roads, on the stretches of our highways are the roadside shacks, the dhabas as they are popularly called that more often than not dish out fresh, homely food for my growling stomach. Good food and happy stomach are two of the most important ingredients for an awesome road trip.

Connectivity can be an issue when driving through the remote interiors of India so don’t be surprised if you find your eyes pinning for the sight of a dhaba on the highway for long stretches of time but are unable to find one.

Dhaba Himalaya Road trip mountains
A dhaba was a rare sight when driving through the hilly regions in the Himalayas.

That’s when your own bag can come to your rescue. Stopping at a roadside dhaba is a must but do not forget to stack up on some food from home.

You don’t want to go hungry when you are soaking up all the wonderful sights along the way really, do you? Fruits are a good bet and so are some good old biscuits. That way you are ensured of a happy stomach and a well nourished ride all along the way.

4. Be curious, gear up your adventure spirit and enjoy the journey.

Things can go wrong anytime. Actually, it’s not even a wrong. Wrong is nothing but a calling of a change in the original plan. Remember, we never know what’s best for us. The road is wiser; knows it better. Be flexible enough to change your plans according to the demands of the moment, and relaxed enough to enjoy the journey. Embrace the uncertainties that are strewn all along the path and be curious about everything that comes in your way.

Talk to the locals Rajasthan road trip
Talking to the locals on the road in Rajasthan.

Serendipity is a beautiful thing and when you couple it with your adventurous spirit – you are guaranteed memories for a lifetime. Trick here is to go with the flow without sweating about the small stuff – look around, be aware, take the help of the locals if need be, study your map and turn on the GPS system – Trust your instincts, trust the road - the universe is there to guide you. Trust it to show you something really wonderful. You never know what’s around the corner.

5. Talk. Listen to one another. Spend quality time together.

This is my favourite part of road trips. Life is so damn busy, isn't it? We’re always plugged in to something or the other, thanks to the advent of the 'plug and play' digital age, our mind is often moving fast, eager to know everything that’s out there and trending or we are too busy working through our daily affairs to stop, pause, breathe and spend quality time with people who are dear to us.

A road trip enables us to roll back to our intrinsic nature. Spending long periods of time together gives us the opportunity to unplug from our busy schedules and (re)connect affectionately with each other on a completely different level. That’s when we realise there is so much to actually talk with each other. We love listening to their stories and love telling them ours in turn learning so much about our own selves and the world in return. That's also when we realise that how a fresh perspective to life is never too far away especially in a road trip  - it could spring forth from as far as the horizon beyond or as near as the person sitting just next to us.

What are your best tips to plan a happy road trip?
Where has your BEST road trip been?


Disclaimer: This post is written in association with Go RoadTrip. All the opinions are as always my own.

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