How to plan a road trip?
There are lot of things you must consider before you plan your road trip. I am making this effort to highlight some very important factors in knowing “How to plan a road trip?”:
It is important to find the right group to accompany with. For bike / road trips, I would suggest going with known people only. Normally a group should consist of like-minded people. With like-minded people it will always be easier to:
- Maintain the mileage
- Planned and unplanned breaks
- Treatment as a better fellow rider
I would not advise travelling with completely unknown people, as prior to your trip it will be very hard to figure them out. Your whole trip will be wasted recognizing that person. I understand that it is important to meet new people, so you should do it on most of your trips. But the whole trip time should not be devoted to this cause. Ultimately you have planned the trip to enjoy.
Solo trips have their own adventures and challenges. It will take a lot of courage to start your first Solo trip. Although it may require several thoughts on any solo trip, but first one definitely rules them out. When I thought to ride my motorbike from Delhi to Mangalore, solo, in the summer of 2021, for 3 days road trip, it was scary. Lot of questions were in my mind, like: what will I do if my bike breaks down? What if someone tried to rob me? What if I meet with an accident? Etc. There were so many negative scenarios in my mind which I have never experienced before. Believe me, when I reached Indore (my first night halt), then I realized that I actually started a very long solo trip, and now there is no turning back.
Of course, one needs to be very careful during solo bike / road trips. Always maintain your vehicles so that you won’t get unnecessary surprises on the way, be aware of milage and know when to get the tank full. In long solo journey I mostly stop at every 200 km for water/ tea break and at the same time I get the tank re-fueled. It is always good to plan your stops (breakfast, lunch and dinner) well in advance. Should not drive / ride for longer than 2 hours straight. Always take a break every two hours, it will take away your stress and lower your chances of fatigue.
Route plan (both digital and printed version):
A printed version of route will always update you about the route plan whenever you are offline. If your trip is of multiple days, it is better to have cities, distance planned time of each day marked and keep it in the simple approachable reach.
It is always good to know about the road conditions. Probably ask in any travel group if someone has recently taken a trip on the route. You can also check on google maps and have a vague idea about the terrain and time taken in the route. For example, if the average speed is below 30 km / hour then it is most probably a hilly road. If it is 70 + km / hour, then it is most probably a good 4-6 lane highway. Red segments en-route will tell you about the heavy traffic areas. You should check the same route in the evening time and in between midnight to early morning time. If there is a significant difference, then it’s a busy route during the daytime. Also check if any wildlife sanctuary is en-route, as most of the time in such areas roads are opened only during the daytime.
Any lockdown or curfew:
Good to have a check on it. Even if it is not a time for lockdown (post covid), still check for curfews. I once got stuck due to a curfew in Wayanad, Kerala as was travelling from Ooty (TN) to Kerala, had no prior info.
Please check if there are isolated hills or forest areas on the route. Most probably in those areas there is no network converge. Take the example of J&K, Leh-Ladakh, other state prepaid connections don’t work in these places (as of September 2022). Western ghats in southern states, mostly no network specially in the protected areas. I once rode 60-70 kms with no network bar, even google map didn’t work. It’s a little scary sometimes.
Weather is another crucial factor to check before you start a bike trip. As it is not a car, you must boldly face all the weather in as is condition. Keep clothes accordingly. Also make sure there is no thunderstorm or cyclone (near coastal areas specially) are predicted. Instead of just harsh weather you also must be careful from the sharp or for that matter any objects flying around.
There are some popular places for bike riding which require permits/ special permits especially near the border, security forces or army areas. Please check prior to your journey and acquire them. For example: Leh-Ladakh and some places in North-East states.
Checklist of items: I have written items to be checked and carried on any road trip. Please find it here.
For any suggestions on “how to plan a road trip?”, please write to me: [email protected].