December 22, 2013

Gaadi aur Buddy - Road Trips Top 10

For Road Trips.. you need only 2 things – 
 Gaadi aur Buddy,
Car aur Yaar..
as in my case it is
Duster aur Mister…

and here is our dear Duster

It has been 1 amazing year of owning our Dear Duster, and the great Road Trips that came along – travelling to Goa, Tarkarli,  Mahabaleshwar, Rann of Kutch, Bhuj, Mandawa, Ahmedabad, Lothal, Orchha, Khajuraho, Sagar & Jhansi. Not all of these are great holiday destinations, some of them were hidden, or small town stop overs which came to be plain simple discoveries on the way. Isn't that the real pleasure of Road Trips to travel at your own pace, on your own agenda and own the roads. They are crazy fun, especially on unmapped roads (even so where there are no roads).

You don't have to go stretching to Leh-Ladakh or Kanyakumari for a great road trip, you can do one within your state and in the vicinity of your city. Just look around and you will find a list of interesting places within 500kms radius of your house. Places you have heard of but never visited, because they were not in the Top 10 Holiday destinations. Go make your own roads, Go make your own list of Top 10 Holiday places. I know I have mine and none of them are in the All-time Top lists. In fact we have had maximum fun in less known, less commercialized and simple places and local stories around it. You don't need a Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor to tell you where to go. It is a better feeling to add a new place on these sites rather than just add a review.

And all those who think Road Trips are 'MEN ONLY', to them I have to say 'DON'T TALK NONSENSE'. All girls can go, in fact they should go to double the fun. All the talk about 'How India is not safe!' is TRASH TALK. If you are prudent enough, you can have fun and be safe too. Me and my husband make an awesome team, he is the driver while I sit around as the navigator/ conductor/ planner/ packer/ and everything else. In fact I can drive too, when need be, which is a MUST on a road trip.

Here are a few tips and ideas from our experience, to help you plan a Road Trip and that too a TOTALLY, FREAKIN, AWESOME, ROCKING and MEMORABLE one. It's a bit of both – brains and heart. So for a healthy heart -

10 Things for Fun
1.     Wave your hand at locals, especially kids, and if the window is open say Goodbye (in Hindi) out loud. You can try making faces also but, not everyone would appreciate that.
2.    On reaching a tunnel, lower the window and shout out loud (nonsense too, if you can't think of anything meaningful) and hear your voice echoing
3.     If you have time to kill, ask directions of random places from random people.. say "Bhaiya yeh chinchpokli kahan hai" (This WAS in Hindi)
4.     Stop at interesting places or points to click random pictures like trying to climb or hang on a banyan tree,  posing with a goat herd, be a Yash Chopra heroine in a sunflower farm, etc etc

Keep clicking!!

At The Tropic of Cancer passing thru Rann of Kutch
5.     Do "lights on" warning sign to random drivers during day. They would actually get confused for a moment and then they will laugh over it.
6.    Note the Shayari on trucks and narrate them to your friends later (on second thoughts the diehard PJ shayari is a good way to get even with enemies)

Track Art and Shayari
For more: Horn OK Please
7.    Play new games to pass time like count the citing of a particular brand (we count Renault Duster). The condition is within that speck of a moment you have to point and show it to the other party properly for it to be counted as a valid point. Or instead of particular brand you can have specific number plates like ending with 55, 99, 123, or summing up, etc etc. Some people just play the usual Antakshri.
8.    On an empty road, put the song Crazy by Aerosmith (or any song you feel is for the roads), lower your window, put your head out, feel the air in your hair and live the song. If you have a Sunroof it just got Crazier.
9.    If you are waiting at the railway track for the train to pass, get out of the car, stand near the poll and watch the train go, just for cheap thrills.
10.  Stop the car if it's raining and have tea at any tea stall, preferably in terracotta cups, the smell of rain, wet earth and tea is pure intoxication.

Rain is the most beautiful weather for a drive
especially, the Konkan belt of

Despite all the fun things you can do on road trips, there are a few things to take care of, especially if you have female travelers along. So here use some brains -

10 Things to Plan for Fun

1. Google maps
or any map and good navigation ability: because road trips on the tough Indian terrain and weather are difficult and Google maps is not always in shortest distance is not always the best. So ask locals twice till you get the right way.

Time for Sunset

2. Plan Limits: Old adage of start early to end early. It's better to cover most distance when roads are empty and sun is on. Don't drive for more than 12 hours in a day or max 600-700 kms even on good roads. Take a halt at the nearest reasonable size town and enjoy the evening with a good meal, movie or book with a timely nap. Rather than stretch and end up in the middle of nowhere. Limit your fun breaks on the way, if you are running behind schedule because we all know about Murphy's law, unpredictable traffic jams and wrong turns.

Interesting fact!

3. Driving: The old adage of 'Don't put all your eggs in the same basket' applies here too. So ensure that there is not 1 person who is doing all the driving, it can be tiring and boring and in case of an injury it's better to have a back up to drive back. 
4. HOTEL: If you are in an unfamiliar territory start searching a hotel around 7 pm (if not online then enquire around from locals). As it gets dark, the small towns in india get ghostly quiet. Use Trip advisor, google and negotiate a good deal and freeze on availability. In fact it's ok to go for road trips during off seasons because hotels are easily available like festivals, most Indians prefer to stay home on festivals so hotels are easily available. Do not try this during summer holidays, Xmas leave or pick season of the visiting place. stay in newer hotels, you never know what you discover.. You will get decent hotels from Rs 1000 to 1500 easily anywhere you go. Don't worry cheap hotels do not mean indecent hotels, you will figure by the look of hotels. try to take A.C. rooms because they are drier than Non A.C. If possible carry your towels because clean towels in small town hotels are not the best deal. Also TIP the staff in these small hotels in advance. believe me whatever little you give, they will serve you better multifold. Unlike big reputed hotels where they consider it a right but no duty.

Never heard of places
Just follow the milestones

5. Music is a life savior on an empty road. Imagine stuck with same person in a small 10 ft by 10 ft car, you do need something to take your mind off and keep temperatures and moods in good spirit. So take enough music so that you don't have to repeat a single song through your entire journey. Believe me even your favorite collection of songs can get boring and repetitive when you are tired.

6. Carry these for sure – umbrella, tissue paper, car mobile chargers, sunscreen lotion, sanitizer, paper soaps, deodorant (don't leave in the car please), extra newspapers (to put on windows when sun is overhead), goggles, metal or wooden rod for safety under your seat, extra mineral water bottles, torch or ensure your phone has light, enough biscuits or non-perishable snacks for 2-3 days of travel, red bull or any energy drink (but read the fine print and don't overdrink)

7. Sightsee: If you find a new town on the milestone, quickly ask or google search for any sights worth seeing, and if you have time, you must stop and watch. Not all places worth seeing are on the map, sometimes it's good to discover before others do.

Local kids

8. Local Shopping: Explore them for a good understanding of local craft market or simply to please the women shopper in you. Sometimes I have even found interesting soaps, utensils, table covers, pickles, handicrafts and homemade stuff in these local Kirana shops and men won't mind.

Local Arts, Rangoli style in Madhya Pradesh

9. Don't STOP: If in the midst of a jungle, or dark night time or when network becomes unreachable, do not STOP, keep driving till you reach a place where you feel safer and your network works.

10. Finally, Take care: Generally people are nice, so don't tempt them with your flashy car, clothes and accessories. Keep it simple and do not carry expensive stuff (definitely no jewellery) but a phone with a good mobile data plan and network and easy camera. When in confusion about anything, road, route, food, safety, just ask for nearest POLICE STATION.

Final words!!

Empty roads

No Roads!
This is my submission for Gaadi - Blog your Drive Contest


Hiral Trivedi said...

Pretty interesting facts and tips here Neha. I have had an opportunity to experience the road trips for a couple of times and yes, like you said, exploring the less traveled path has its own charm. Thanks for sharing. :)

Neha Gupta said...

Thanks Hiral, looking forward to read your experiences from the road trips

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