Friday, February 20, 2015

Long Distance Car Drive in India (Self Driven), Vital Tips.

When I commenced writing this post a thought came to me, why would some one believe in the tips I give, unless I can prove that I have credentials to back them up. In order to ensure that the readers have faith in what I say, I decided to list some of the journeys I did, driving my car and with my family being my co passengers. They are:-

1998 - Mumbai - Shirdi - Aurangabad and Back - Premier Padmini Non AC - 708 km
1999 - Mumbai - Pandharpur, Hyderabad, Vijaywada - Visakhapatnam- 1354 km
2000 - Delhi - Nainital - Ranikhet & Back- 696 km
2002 - Delhi - Bikaner - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Jaipur - Delhi- 1656 km
2003 - Delhi - Haridwar - Dehradun - Musoori  - Delhi- 585 km
2007 Jamnagar -Bhuj - Lakhpat - Koteshwar - Naliya - Jamnagar - Tata Indigo AC -  983 km
2008 Jamnagar - Okha - Porbander - Somnath _diu - Junagarh - Jamnagar- 793 km
2010 Hyderabad - Nagpur - Pench - Jabalpur - Indore - Jalgaon - Shegaon - Hyderabad - 2259 km
2014 Delhi - Naseerabad - Chittaur Garh - Udaipur - Eklingaji - Nathdwara - Mount Abu - Abu Road - Ambaji - Pushkar - Delhi - 1581 km

Well, the list of journeys is becoming boring. Let me get to the Tips. I also must acknowledge that some of them have come from some one I had met way back in 1998, who had traveled from Jammu to Quilon (Spelling may not be right) in Kerala in his Maruti car along with his family.

Let me start.


- Make a detailed programme day wise for the whole trip

- Pack your bags according to the programme (wildlife sanctuary needs different cloths and ranikhet different though they may be close eg Corbet). Don't forget playing cards etc.

- Take individual medications (for whosoever has such need).

- Study paper or e-maps and familiarize  yourself with the route.

- Organise your Binoculars, Camera, writing Pad, pen etc.

- Update and stock a First Aid Kit.

- Don't forget Sunglasses and Caps.

- Keep emergency eatables -Dry fruits and some Dry food, etc (Biscuits, Namkeen, etc).

- Stock of Drinking water, may be six bottles of drinking water to be replenished as required.

- Some blankets etc if children are small, they can sleep on the rear seat.

- Pick up some luggage which fits in between front and back seat to convert back seat into a small bed (applicable for people with small children).

Preparing the Car

- Get Car service done, if due.

- Remove things which would not be required on the trip from boot as well as the car.

- Check Tyre state and get the pressure checked in all tyres including spare tyre.On long drives, it is recommended to keep tyre pressure two points below recommended by car manufacturer for avoiding Tyre bursts on highways and expressways (when Tata recommends 27 PSI in for all tyres of indigo, most taxi people keep 40 PSI, a sure recipe for tyre burst).

- Check Lamps, Engine Oil, Brake Oil, water in Windshield washer tank and coolant in coolant tank.

- Check documents (RC Book or Certificate, Insurance Papers, PUC and On Road Assistance papers). Put xerox copies in the car dash board and original in your wife's purse. Also put a spare car key in her purse.

- Check tools (Jack, must check that it works,  spanner for wheel, Tow sling if you have one, Battery Jumper wire set to start car from other cars battery, battery operated compressor, etc).

- Keep a five liter empty oil or some other container in the boot for picking up emergency fuel, if needed.

- If  using navigator on mobile, better to buy and fit a mobile holder on front windshield. There are GPS navigator apps available for smart phones which are useful if net connectivity is not available on highway, down load and install (I use Navfree but that is my choice, you should use what you like).

Loading the Car

- Load systematically with First in - Last out principle.

- If you have Director type chairs (folding ones). tent, etc keep them as well, if opportunity presents you can sit and have packed meal etc on the road side.

- Put some eatables and water in the cabin and and balance in the boot.

- Paste a stick pad chit on the Dash board Giving Name, age, medical issues if any and blood group of all he passengers. Also write a emergency contact number on this chit (don't put emergency contact number on rear windshield or front windshield, it can be misused).

- Have your selected music CDs or music on the pen drive (if your car deck can take inputs from USB drive, my 8 year old set does not) available in the car. FM stations are available only for a short distance from from major cities.

- You seem all set, Happy driving.

During Driving

- Maintain steady speed and enjoy the drive.

- Keep yourself hydrated and take as many breaks as required. Don't make it a race on the highway or race against time (I have done so and let me tell you, there is not much fun, you miss so much of scenery on the road). One can fell drowsy post meals or during driving. If that happens don't continue driving, stop and rest

- Keep at least one hr spare for every 100 km of drive in your planning and utilise it even if you are making good speed of advance on the road.

- Keep a sharp lookout on the vehicles behind you (needless to say, vehicles ahead are anyway in your vision) for detecting, if some unwanted elements are following you (they are good at detecting cars form out side of the area). This is not to get scared, just be mindful and if being trailed, take help of nearest police station or post.

- Some people enjoy night driving but I don't and I also do not recommend night driving, one may end up doing it when there is no alternative but that should be exception. Most accidents on the road happen during dawn and dusk (eyes take time to adjust to changing light) and in the night due to driver fatigue (your or others) or sleep or both.

- Agitations, Bandhs and Hartals are common in India. When a break is taken on some Dhaba or tea stall, generally inquire about road conditions and general conditions ahead. Must also hear the local FM station news which could be a good source of information, also of local events happening at your destination.

- Keep someone reliable informed of your full day by day programme of travel before hand including start place and time, end place and likely time, etc and set up a time after the end of day's journey where you should call up that person and confirm safe completion of the journey. 

- Have a safety time, if you don't call up by that time, that person must call you back and check.

- Have fun on the road.

Post Drive (for that day)

- Check car including all the tyres. 

- See that you have parked it safely and hand brake is applied.

- See that lights are switched off (else battery would drain out).

- See that car is locked safely.

- Clean the car in the morning including Windscreens.

- Check Engine and other oil levels.

- Replenish wind shield washer tank. 

- Happy second and other days of driving. Have fun.

Post Journey

Must share your experience with others (blogging is a good medium for that purpose).

Hope readers find it useful. 

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