There’s no better feeling than driving towards the open horizon in a car or on a bike, the wind in your hair, and a new adventure waiting around every bend in the road. Amidst the excitement and adventure, there’s a whole bunch of essential stuff that you must make note of – and who else would know better than India’s most seasoned roadtrippers. Here, they share a mix of their discoveries, tips and inspiration to hit the road.
Why do you choose to travel by road and not other modes?
Sankara Subramanian, Blogger, Be On The Road
Usually, I do not have any prejudice to any commute modes. But, when I do have time at hand, I choose the road trip option as it allows me to enjoy smaller places in between the destinations, makes you live the journey instead of the destination and make connections with the local people.
Tushar Agarwal and Sanjay Madan, founders of Adventures Overland
Travelling by road allows you to go deep into the countryside and meet people living in little villages, eating local food and spending time with them – this is the best way to really experience the essence of a country. Usually places are customized for tourists – the countryside is not.
Chithra Priya, Supergirl to the Rescue, only Indian female motorbike rider to be Saddle Sore certified
Traveling by motorcycle on a road is a very personal experience. It gives the opportunity to get to know many off-beat places, camp and explore places that are not just made famous by tourists but also follow suggestions made by locals, all the tea shops and the different cuisines, and so much more. By traveling on roads, you get to experience every emotion that city has to offer.
Renuka and Rahat, Roadtripper.in
Because, to coin an adage, there is no better way to see the world than through your windscreen. When you fly, you miss out on all of that, when you are on a train, you can’t stop where you want. In a car, it’s you and the road and freedom to take in whatever you like along the way. It’s really more the journey than the destination that makes it all the more interesting to us.
What’s the most challenging road trip you’ve done?
“Traveling India by motorcycle all alone. It was challenging, but super fun.” – Sankara
“Alaska has one of the most remote terrains in the world and one of the most challenging to drive in…We saw bears, the Northern Lights, we crossed the Arctic line while we were there. It’s very challenging but they sense of achievement you get from driving through Alaska is worth it.” – – Tushar and Sanjay
“Every road trip presents a unique style of challenge, but then again, it’s these challenges that make the entire ride interesting, amongst them all, one of the most challenging rides would be attempting the SaddleSore Ride, which is riding for 1600kms in 24 hours, and I attempted this all alone, riding from Bangalore – Pune – Bangalore. I had to remain extra alert and cautious, while riding through the night being careful not to draw any extra attention to myself on the roads. Being geared up and wearing a helmet did aid in maintaining anonymity, but even then, I still remember the look of surprise the petrol attendants had every time I pull up to get my motorcycle tank filled. – Chithra
Challenges come in many different forms and driving most roads up North in India are a challenge as you never know where the road will just fall off into the valley or be overrun by floods. Still there are some like driving through the desert in Mongolia where the compass is your best friend as everything around till the eye can see looks the same so it’s impossible to know which direction you are going and it’s easy to go off course. Driving from Tamu border in India to Mandalay in Myanmar via Monywa there is a section where the road just disintegrates into t loose dirt track and averaging even 15- 20 ms per hour is tough. – Renuka and Rahat
What is the best thing you’ve discovered along the way on your road travels?
That the locals are super hospitable and always offer you help with a big smile on their faces. And I also got to learn that I am made out of tough skin. – Sankara
That all the unplanned things that happen during a journey – meeting people or losing your way and the adventures that follow – are the memories that will remain with you, more than the things that you have planned. – Tushar and Sanjay
One of the best part about travelling would be the people I get to meet, and also, being a women motorcyclist, a lot of people are curious and quite willing to share their personal stories and memories, and it add a lot more impact in making the journey quite memorable. – Chithra
People I think would be the unanimous answer, we have made some great friends who enjoy travel as much as we do and others who welcomed us into their homes, restaurants, kitchens, and even a wedding. -Renuka and Rahat
What tips do you have for people who’ve never done a road trip?
Stay flexible and be willing to get into uncharted territories. And there is no need to follow anyone’s style. You should be able to figure out your style in a couple of road trips. After all, it is you who have to enjoy the journey! – Sankara
Make sure your vehicle is in a good condition before you leave and carry extra parts with you so that if the car breaks down, someone can repair and replace it for you. And proper planning is essential as well. In the long run, it will save you a lot of hassle and stress. – Tushar and Sanjay
Travel light, keep your personal belongings safe and close to you and try not to carry too many electronic items on hand as they might end up becoming a burden. Hide some emergency cash in the lining of your travel gear, or in a place that does not have easy access for prying hands. There are many hotels situated in beautiful places and sometime they might not have WiFi connectivity, don’t let that scare you away! – Chithra
Pack light. Especially if you plan on making many halts along the way getting a heavy bag in and out of a car is a pain every day. Depending on where you are going, plan the itinerary or go without and agenda. e.g. In India it’s vital to decide where you will stay the night, but in America or Europe you would find a place to stay wherever you decide. Check all the places of interest along the way there may be some great delights slightly off route and well worth it. Never drive tired. If you are, take a break. Use smaller roads , highways are boring. They may be longer distances but much better scenically. Take lots of your favourite music. – Renuka and Rahat
How would you describe your ideal road trip partner?
I love doing road trips alone with just my motorcycle for company. That way, I am able to immerse myself into the local atmosphere without any distractions. – Sankara
Because you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person, they would need to have a similar attitude as you do towards driving and roadtrips and should remain positive and supportive in various situations. It would also help if they were not a terrible singer ☺ – Tushar and Sanjay
Some of the qualities that I like from a travel partner must be that they are quite adventurous and willing to try out new experiences the place has to offer. Must be willing to spend long hours traveling, adaptable to any situation and conditions and most of it all, travel with an open heart and mind. In that category, I have been blessed that every person I’ve had the opportunity to travel with has been amazing! – Chithra
Someone who likes the same kind of places you do e.g beach, hills. Someone who likes the same kind of music. Someone who doesn’t mind spending all day in a car. – Renuka and Rahat
What’s your favorite/essential song to listen to on the road?
I don’t have any favorites per se, but I choose to hum random tunes of songs that have influenced me in my past. – Sankara
Lakshya -Toh har haal me pana hai – Tushar and Sanjay
I like to listen to songs with fast rhythm on them. My playlist is a mix of rock, hiphop and lot of Tamil ganna songs. – Chithra
Oh the amount we’ve travelled that keeps changing we have a whole playlist of them added on… Beautiful day U2, Chris Rea, Beatles to sing along, EDM its a variety. – Renuka and Rahat
Taking a road trip consists of long stretches of road and what feels like hours on the road. It takes strength, patience and, most of all, the open-mindedness to go off-the-grid. It’s a chance to introspect and pay attention to the subtle details of life, the lyrics to the music you’re listening to, and the revealing conversations that transpire. Because it’s when you’re on the road that you’ll come across the little things, like those passing conversations with strangers in between cities, that makes a destination different and makes you want to explore the world around you more than ever.