Intro.     Road trips are meant to be pleasant fulfilling memorable yet challenging in order to get that satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something worthwhile. However right preparation is essential to ensure that the road trip does not turn in to something of a major disaster with unpleasant experiences and memories besides safety related issues.

2. When I began going on road trips I was fortunate to read about them before hand and hence I had a fair amount of idea as to what needs to be prepared for the same and then as the saying goes ; experience is a great teacher and those road trips taught me a lot . I thought of reproducing few key areas for the benefit of other like minded individuals.

3.Preparation. The broad categories that the preparation that needs to be done can be divided are as follows:

  • Vehicle Preparation
  • Clothing and nutrition
  • Medical care
  • Paperwork
  • Connectivity
  • Utilities

4. (i) Vehicle Preparation. Arguably one of the most critical amongst all, the steed that is going to take you to all far flung places better be geared up mentally and physically to endure the rigours that it will be subjected to .The following key area need to be looked into

Mechanical Electrical
(a) Replace tyres  >50% worn as on date of journey Spark Plugs and Battery to be changed if in use for > 03 yrs
(b) 100 % POL (oil, lubricants, coolant) to be replaced. Engine oil and coolant (full capacity) to be carried as spare. All lights to be checked for operation and correct alignment
(c) 100 % filters to be renewed. Carry spare air and diesel filters. One set of fuses to be carried.
(d) Wipers to be changed Spare light bulbs to be carried
(e) In case drive belts have been in use> 60K kms, these have to be changed. Electric jump starter cable to be carried.
(f) Rubber hoses if cracked (even hair line) to be changed especially if trip is being planned to a cold or hot region.
(g) New brake Pads if existing have run  >35K kms
(h) Clutch to be serviced and changed if found > 50 % worn out.
(j) Wheel bearings to be checked.
(k) Wheel alignment to be undertaken.
(l) Suspension roll bar to be checked.
(m) Entire suspension to be torque tightened in case trip is planned to Ladakh
(n) Air Conditioning to be serviced
(p) Engine mountings to be checked for condition.
(q) Grease all moving parts where applicable
(r) There should be no loose bolt, nut etc as they will fall off eventually.

(ii)           Clothing.             This aspect will determine how your state of mind is, correct set of clothing go a long way in ensuring that the state of mind of the traveller remains positive.  Comfortable, easy to wash and minimal to wear are key words. Location of trip should decide theme of clothing. There should be a daily wear bag and a main bag, so that each day the main bag need not be lugged into the hotel room. Also carry a small cloth bag where u can dump all used clothes in case one does not get opportunity to wash them regularly. Travel light yet have all factors catered.

Thermals ( 02 pairs) Casuals
Woollen socks ( 03 pairs) Cotton trousers
Cotton socks ( 03 pairs) Light Tees
External Jacket preferably with a hood attached Cotton socks
Woollen Cap covering the ears Sun glasses
Woollen Gloves ( two layers ) Comfortable foot wear
Sun glasses Cap to protect from sun
Woollen nightwear Shorts for a dip into the cool water
Trekking shoes having good insulation
Woollen jersey
Insulated lower pants ( 02 pairs )

(iii)          Nutrition.            Do have high energy foods like chocolates and various ready to eat snacks to give you the energy on hot long days. Cup noodles are another great option especially for chilly winter nights. Tea bags and a small kettle help the weary traveller for a cup of tea in the evening when the destination is still far away. Drinking lots of water is preferable to prevent dehydration, carry a camper which can store water thereby ensuring that you are not hunting for bottled water on the way.

(iv)         Medical care.    This is a very important aspect that needs to be planned very carefully. I remember one incident where my co passenger developed sever stomach ache and in a remote location where the nearest dispensary was miles far and the road very bumpy , it was a very stressful situation for him as well as for me . The medical kit came very handy and saved the day. Do  carry medication for the following categories:

Fever Sore Throat Cold and cough
Digestive tablets(Omez & digene) Stomach upset Head ache
ORS Anti allergy Diamox for high altitude
First aid kit for cuts and abrasions Burnol Soframycin cream and powder

(v)          Paper work.       It is very important to carry documentation while venturing to unknown places. Carry more than enough copies of DL, PAN, ADHAR duly attested of all members. Also carry multiple passport size photographs of all group members. I use a file wherein I have all these readily available so that it is organised and easily retrievable. Make sure the vehicle PUC and insurance is updated. Do carry Xerox copies within the file in addition to the original inside the vehicle. Carry maps of the route with you as back up as well a ready list of what all you wish to see once you reach a particular place.

(vi)         Connectivity.     This is the age of connectivity and though we all wish sometimes that we were left alone, yet on road trips it is very essential to have connectivity. In India, BSNL is my recommendation especially in far flung regions like North East, Ladakh sector etc. I prefer post-paid BSNL connection as in some places pre-paid BSNL services are not available. Also do carry a GPS in order to check the route and have guidance when it is needed. There are many off line maps also available which use GPS tracks by other users however I am not conversant with them. Listof emergency numbers including road assistance, vehicle service centre details of places en route and local police control room

(vii)        Utilities.              In addition it is important to carry the following utilities as experience has shown that these are needed in tricky situations.

Chargers for appliances Torch with cells Shovel Rope and D shackle( for towing) Air compressor
Puncher repair kit Blanket for engine bonnet Tool kit ( be extravagant here ) Jerry cans for fuel ( military grade ) Araldite & quick fix
Cable tie Cycle tube Money pouch Insulation tape/packaging tape/double sided tape Wooden planks (maybe a feet in length )
Mobile charger bank Spare batteries for photographic gear Car invertor Memory cards Nylon ropes ( maybe half inch doa)

5. This is a never ending experience and i hope i was able to collate at least a greater percentage of what all one needs to prepare to make that road trip memorable



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