Road-trips are indeed fun and with Digital India and some amazing Travel Startups around, it has become an awesome way to roam the country. (And even beyond !! )
There are loads of inspiring articles on how awesome people drove from Europe to India or from India to Russia and so on… A road trip is not a cakewalk. There has to be at least a certain amount of groundwork along with working Plan B’s around. Extempore plans are a hit yes, but for smooth transitions, here is a list of a few tips which helped us on our road-trip from Pune to Rajasthan.
1. Start Early (ASAP )
We chose the route via Gujarat. Though the National highways are brilliant, it is always a good idea to start early from Pune, in order to reach Gujarat by breakfast (if you are an enthusiastic bunch of drivers and plan to cover the 1300 kms in a day) Otherwise, taking a halt in Ahmedabad can also be a good idea.
2. Carry Food (Lots ! )
This seems to be a very silly tip but this is what helps in the time of crisis if (hope you are not) you are ever stuck in a traffic jam. There are vast stretches on the NH8 where you won’t find food joints. Ample food and water in your car will keep things cool always !
3. Book Hotels early for best deals
Though looking on the spot and finding a hotel is not impossible, you can get awesome deals on heaps of travel websites if you book at least 10 days early and use “mobile wallets” Go cashless ! This will also give you an overall idea of the budget and you can have enough money calculations for shopping! The average 3 star decent hotels cost INR 3000
4. Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ranthambore, Jaisalmer
Do not miss the above cities. You can select between Mount Abu, Chittorgarh, Ajmer, Bikaner depending upon the time you have. To have a look on our sample itinerary, click here. Driving time between each cities is at least 4-5 hours depending upon when you leave.
Route from Jajpur to Ranthambore is beautiful with sarso farms all over.
On the Route from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer the stretch from Jaisalmer city to Sam Sand Dunes races to Top 2 position in my list after NH-1 in Ladakh.
Roads entering into the heart of the city of Udaipur are extremely narrow.
5. Don’t completely rely on Google Maps
95% of the times the maps are right but you also need to use your common sense to avoid narrow patches and bad roads. Google Maps usually shows the shortest route and that might not always be a good road to drive on. If you zoom in and out, whenever you are in a doubt, you can figure out a better choice of road with basic logic.
6. Re-fill your fuel tank in Time
Once you see there is enough space in it, refill your fuel tank on the next fuel station you see. DO NOT WAIT for another and then another. A pre-requisite for any smooth road-trip.
7. Local Guides
In Rajasthan, people who call themselves local guides, tag behind you the moment they see a MH (Or to be precise a non-RJ) vehicle. A pair even followed us on a motorbike at the speed of 80-90kmph on the highway to Jaisalmer till we parked at the lake. It is sometimes scary to see them follow you but you can politely refuse them or hire someone form the official Rajasthan Tourism kiosks present at almost all the popular destinations.
Check with the hotel you have booked for parking beforehand. There is designated parking areas at almost all tourist destinations. Some parking coupons are valid for multiple destinations. Please check them before buying new ones. Destinations like Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar are walking distance from each other so be sure to check that beforehand to avoid moving your car in the heavy city traffic.
9. Walking in Udaipur
The roads are extremely narrow in the heart of Udaipur, near the city palace and its surroundings. It is better to walk and explore the city then to take your car. Local transport like rickshaws can also help for a little further journey. Streets are vibrant, colourful and full of life, so a walk looks very inspiring.
10. Road Rules
Check your car before leaving. Keep in place the first aid box, car tool box and all the essential documents. Some websites refer that Gujarat requires yellow strips to be put on the headlights to lessen the impact of Hi Beam on Highways. Some say the rule is abolished. if no authentic information is available, it is better to apply the stripes before hitting the road.
11. Return Journey
In normal scenarios, the enthusiasm curve is tapering towards the end of the road trip so it can be better to keep Udaipur (or if you have Mount Abu in our list) as the last destination before leaving Rajasthan and heading back to Pune as it is the nearest city in the list.
12. Time Calculations
Add at least a couple of hours extra to google map timings for distances more than 350kms. In this way you can take the liberty to halt your car for photo moments or breaks and allow for some unexpected traffic delays.
13. In trip entertainment
Be responsible fellow travellers and switch drivers at regular intervals. Even if your friend says no don’t allow him/her to drive excessively. Take enough breaks in between to stretch your hands and legs. Ensure a unlimited stock of music to last for the entire duration.
14. Road Trip Bonuses
You will never get to enjoy the road-trip bonuses if you fly or take a train to faraway cities. Of course you need to be a road-lover to be making this choice in the first hand.
Changing states, switching from National Highways to State Highways to District Roads, crossing small & peculiar villages, lunch on the highway-dhabaa and more; a road trip has a lot to offer. Road-trips give you the opportunity and the freedom to stop at any point, to chose your path and to soak in the feel of the city At the end, Drive Safe, Don’t Drink & Drive, Follow Traffic Rules and don’t underestimate the National Highways. NHAI has done and is doing an excellent job in building our highway network.
15. Useful Sources of Information
Do refer TeamBHP, IndiaMike, for forums of travellers. Also don’t forget to download offline maps of your routes incase you are out of data connection on the way.
Read Our Travel Story of Rajasthan Roadtrip Here