In the post-COVID-19 era, tourism trends are going to see a major shift from long-distance trips to exotic, international destinations to local travel and micro-holidays, closer to home. Road trips are certainly going to be the new ‘flying’ as it will allow travellers like yourself to discover the country with flexibility and total autonomy while ensuring travel privacy and safety.

Once the lockdown is over, you too might want to put your unsettled wanderlust to rest by hitting the road with your friends or family, after being stuck at home for months. Here are some tips and smart hacks that will help make your road trip a smooth and memorable ride:

When it Comes to Planning:

  1. Once you’ve decided on the destination, the first thing you must do is chalk out the route as it will give you a rough idea of the total driving time and places that will fall en route.
  2. Don’t forget to check the weather conditions of your destination in case it’s not advisable at that particular time of the year, or at least to prepare accordingly.
  3. Have a plan in place but maybe not a rigid one. Figure out interesting places to see and plot rest stops en route. Although when on the road, feel free to explore too.
  4. If you’re going to spend more than a day on the road, plan ahead for overnight stops. It is a good idea to make hotel reservations in advance to avoid any last-minute fiascos.
  5. Pre-book your stay for your destination too, especially if you’re travelling during the holiday season or even on the weekends.

When it Comes to Your Ride:

  1. Depending on the destination you’re travelling to and the number of people you will be, it is important that you choose your ride carefully.
  2. Get your car serviced before you hit the road to ensure it’s in good working order. Check the fuel, engine oil, coolant, air conditioning, battery, tire pressure, breaks, lights, etc.
  3. You wouldn’t want to be stranded on the road with a flat tire so make sure you carry a spare tire kit, which includes a stepney (spare tire), jack and lug wrench.
  4. Invest in a multi-outlet adapter to make sure there are enough outlets to charge devices for all passengers.
  5. Be smart with mileage – slow down your acceleration and maintain a moderate speed. Also, avoid rough roads, if possible.
  6. Always load non-essential items first in the car and keep whatever you may need en route, such as water and snacks, pillows, camera or purse, within easy reach.

When it Comes to Packing:

  1. The most important thing to keep in mind is to get your key papers in order, including your driving license, car registration and insurance papers as well as owner’s manual.
  2. You can carry as much as you want since you’re travelling by road but it is best to pack light.
  3. Don’t forget to pack an emergency kit, which must include a first-aid kit, water, a roadside safety kit, some warm blankets and a flashlight.
  4. If you plan to spend more than a day on the road, keep a separate overnight bag with daily essentials like toiletries, nightwear and a change of clothes.
  5. You wouldn’t want your car to be messy by the end of the journey so pack cleaning items like wet wipes, paper towels, trash bags, etc. for the journey.
  6. Make it a point to stock enough water for each person in the car. It would be great if you can keep a stainless-steel bottle or reusable glass to avoid additional waste.
  7. It is best to bring non-messy, healthy road trip snacks like fruits, nuts and sandwiches so you don’t have to stop at every fast-food outlet on the way.
  8. The journey is going to be long so you might want to make a road trip playlist with your favourite songs and store it in your smartphone or pen drive.
  9. You will come across a lot of tolls en route so you must carry cash with you at all times.
  10. For a comfortable and hassle-free journey, you can keep blankets and pillows handy.

When it Comes to the Road:

  1. Your guide when you’re on the road is going to be GPS. So make sure you download maps in advance to save yourself from getting lost, in case there is no cell service.
  2. Also, don’t rely on the navigation blindly as it might not take into account the types of roads, irregular traffic conditions etc. It’s a good idea to double-check routes with locals.
  3. You might be tempted to take the highways as they are faster but if possible, take the roads less travelled as you’ll get to see so much more and even meet the locals.
  4. Don’t miss out on the chance to grab local grubs so make sure you explore popular culinary hotspots en route. Asking a local about where to eat is better than going by reviews.
  5. Eat light and right; save the binging for the end of the day as a big meal might cause a lot of discomfort during the ride and even make you sleep (you wouldn’t want that, right?)
  6. It is a good idea to take frequent brakes, say stop every 2-3 hours, maybe to check out sites on the way or for meals or even just to stretch your legs.
  7. If it’s possible, share driving responsibilities with other passengers to avoid fatigue.
  8. The practical thing to do is ride by sunrise and park by sunset so try and get on the road as early as possible to beat the traffic. Avoid night driving, if possible.
  9. Do keep some buffer time for unplanned detours and adventures.

When it Comes to People:

  1. Choose your travel companions wisely taking the comfort factor into account; you wouldn’t want any unnecessary complaining or last-minute changes in your plans.
  2. It is also important to make sure that you don’t overcrowd the vehicle so that the journey is comfortable for everyone.
  3. Plan games or activities to pass time as it will save you from boredom and also keep all the passengers entertained and active.
  4. If you’re travelling with young ones, keep the children entertained with books, puzzles and other time-killing diversions.

When it Comes to Safety:

  1. Make sure you get plenty of sleep before the journey so you don’t feel exhausted. Also, it will ensure that your drive is as safe and efficient as possible.
  2. Don’t rush to cover more distance in less time or keep up with the navigation. It is essential that you know your driving limitations and drive accordingly.
  3. Be alert at all times when you’re on the road. Keep an eye out for wildlife on the road and always be cautious of aggressive drivers or tailgaters.
  4. Whenever you’re parking, it’s best to avoid leaving valuables like wallet, phone and camera in the car. If you can’t take them along, make sure you cover them well.
  5. If travelling with kids, make it a point to activate child safety locks on doors and windows. It is also a good idea to remove any poisonous substances or choking hazards from the car.
  6. Avoid pulling over on the side of the road unless it is an emergency, especially at night.
  7. If you don’t have experience in say mountain driving or riding on the snow, make sure you prepare yourself for special conditions. Don’t go too fast and pull over to let other drivers overtake safely.
  8. Keep your loved ones informed of your whereabouts at all times via text or call.

When it Comes to Hygiene:

  1. Before you start your journey, make sure you disinfect your car
  2. Wear masks at all times, or at least when you get out of the car or even if you roll down your windows at tolls, check posts or a drive-through.
  3. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after leaving the car.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth frequently, especially around crowds.
  5. Be wary of eating outside. Eat only at a clean restaurant and drink bottled, mineral water or get your own filtered water and on-the-go eatables from home.
  6. When booking a hotel or taking an overnight stop, ensure that you choose a 100% hygienic place to stay.
  7. Take supplements to boost your immunity like Vitamin C and D and zinc.
  8. Follow all the COVID-19-related guidelines including hygiene practices and social distancing.

Last but not the least, don’t forget to take a lot of pictures as these are what will make you reminisce all the good memories you’ll make on this road trip. Be safe, but do enjoy to your fullest!

Happy Road Tripping!