This is a guest post from Denise at Vintage Rides.
Preparing for a road trip in India? Follow our advice to make sure you enjoy your experience at its best.
1. Be careful with the seasons
With 3,287 million km² and 1,324 billion inhabitants, India is the 7th biggest country in the world. Its diversity of languages, cultures, and landscapes makes it a one-of-a-kind subcontinent. You can only imagine what it represents in terms of road trip possibilities! But before choosing an itinerary, make sure to check what are the seasons in different regions. Climates are very different from North to South, going from semi-arid to balmy tropical. Choosing your itinerary according to the weather will allow you to avoid monsoon periods, as well as very hot seasons which can be as uncomfortable when travelling (imagine visiting cultural sites under 50°C!)
2. Choose the right transport mode
A road trip means… spending a lot of time on the road! Big chances are that you’re going to travel big distances to be able to see a maximum of things during your holidays. The network of trains and buses is quite large in the country, which, despite possible delay times (several hours in average), will take you almost anywhere at a cheap price.
Another cheap option would be to hit the road with a motorbike. Whether you prefer to rent some on your own or go for organized motorcycle tours India is well adapted to two-wheels touring. Visiting the country with a motorcycle will truly allow you to enjoy the landscapes as its best, and have great autonomy to take secondary roads and stop whenever you feel like it.
3. Make some research about local driving habits
India’s culture is unique, and so are the driving habits of its people. Make sure you do a little research before your road trip not to be too surprised, and to get accustomed quickly.
- India has a right hand/left side drive, which is maybe the opposite of what you have at home.
- There are no restrictions on the type of vehicles which can go on Indian roads. This means you can have on the same road: trucks, bicycles, rickshaws, scooters, cars, buses, pedestrians… Not even mentioning the usual cows, kids and other crazy species which can cross your way.
- Prepare yourself to hear a lot of horning. It’s the local way to indicate its presence on the road.
4. Pack well
If you’ve chosen to do a regular road trip, your backpack should be plenty of travel essentials such as: warm clothes, light clothes, medicine, mosquito balm, first aid kit, etc.
For motorcycle tours the backpack can be a bit heavier: you also need protective clothes for the riding part. Choose a light but covering jacket, reliable boots and a good pair of gloves. Regarding helmet, make sure you buy one at home or bring your own, rather than choosing one in India. Buying one on spot may be a lot less expensive, but certifications are not the same and in the case of an accident, you won’t be well protected. Your safety has no price! And of course, it’s not only about buying everything, but also make sure you wear your gear at all times on the road.
5. Take a camera
Pictures are always welcomed by friends and family back home, they’re a great way to tell the many stories you lived. They’re also a great opportunity to create these unique stories during your trip. In India, you’ll likely cross small villages where life is quite ancestral compared to our Occidental world. Why not pack a mini Polaroid camera and suggest the persons you see to take a picture that you’ll give them? They’ll likely be surprised at first, and it will create authentic moments that you and them will remember forever. Make sure to take the same pictures twice, so that you can bring one back home too!