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How to Plan a Road Trip in India- A Feel-Prepared Guide

by Priya Mashru   ·  8 months ago   ·  

Are you ready for some adventure? Check out our feel-good everything guide on how to plan a road trip in India.


As someone who has clocked countless miles on the road with friends, I’ve learned that a successful road trip is much more than just a journey from one place to another. It’s about the laughter shared over flat tyres, the awe of discovering hidden vistas, and the stories that unfold along the way. Each trip has been a variety of experiences, teaching me invaluable lessons about planning, adapting, and enjoying the journey. Now, I’m eager to pass on this treasure trove of insights, hoping to inspire more people to embark on their own road adventures.

How to Choose a Road Trip Destination?

The first step in planning your road trip is choosing a destination that resonates with everyone. Are you thrill-seekers looking for adventure, or do you prefer a more laid-back, scenic route? Discussing and aligning your interests is crucial. Whether it’s the rugged mountains, serene beaches, or bustling cities, your destination sets the tone for your entire journey.

Consider destinations that offer a mix of activities and sights. National parks, historic towns, and coastal drives offer diverse experiences. Research online, ask for recommendations, and maybe even throw a dart at a map! The joy lies in the discovery.

Best Road Trip Destinations of 2024

As an avid road trip planner who has meandered through the diverse terrains of India with friends, I’ve come to realize that choosing the right destination is both an art and a science. Whether it’s the thrill of navigating the rugged terrains or unwinding on scenic routes, each road trip unfolds a unique story.

Best Road Trip Destinations of 2024
  • Mumbai to Pune Expressway: Ideal for a quick getaway, this route offers picturesque landscapes and a taste of the local delicacy, ‘chikki’, in Lonavala​​
  • Manali to Leh Highway: A journey across this highway is nothing short of epic, with breathtaking views at every turn, promising an adventure of a lifetime​​.
  • Chennai to Pondicherry: Traverse along the East Coast road, where the sea runs parallel to the road, offering a serene and visually stunning experience​​.
  • Bangalore to Bandipur forest: Journey through the lush forests, with chances to spot wildlife and enjoy nature’s tranquillity​​.
  • Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley: This route boasts a stunning union of the Bay of Bengal with the Eastern Ghats, offering a serene drive through nature’s splendour​​.
  • Puri to Konark via NH 203: A short yet picturesque route, known for its beautiful canopy of trees and idyllic beauty​​.
  • Shimla to Manali via Mandi: This classic route, with the River Beas as a companion, offers a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation​​.
  • Shimla to Manali via Kinnaur and Spiti: For those seeking a longer journey, this route provides an immersive experience into the heart of Himachal’s stunning landscapes of Manali and Spiti.
  • Udaipur to Pushkar: This route takes you through diverse landscapes, culminating in Pushkar, a city known for its unique topography and religious significance​​.
  • Chittorgarh to Kumbhalgarh: Experience the grandeur of Kumbhalgarh, renowned for its impressive fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, set against the backdrop of the Aravalli Hills

How Do I Plan a Budget for a Road Trip?

A successful road trip hinges on realistic budget planning. From fuel costs to accommodation and food, setting a budget upfront helps avoid any financial surprises. Discuss and agree on a budget that works for everyone. Let’s go deeper.

How to Budget for a Road Trip?

Reflecting on my numerous road trips, I’ve learned that a well-planned budget is the cornerstone of a stress-free journey. It’s about crafting a financial blueprint that accommodates everyone’s needs and expectations. 

How to Budget for a Road Trip?

Here are five practical tips to help you budget smartly for your road trip:

  1. Estimate and Allocate: Begin by estimating key expenses like fuel, accommodation, and meals. Allocate a specific amount for each category and add a buffer for unexpected costs.
  2. Group Budgeting Tools: Use a shared budgeting app to track group expenses. It ensures transparency and makes settling up at the end of the trip a breeze.
  3. Attractions and Activities: Include entrance fees for must-visit attractions and budget for activities you plan to indulge in.
  4. Smart Dining: Mix dining out with self-catered meals. Stock up on snacks and plan for picnics or barbecues. It’s not just economical; it adds a fun element to your trip.
  5. Fuel-Saving Strategies: Optimize your route for efficiency and consider carpooling. Keeping your vehicle well-maintained can also improve fuel efficiency, saving you money in the long run.

How to Create a Road Trip Schedule?

Balance is key when scheduling a road trip. While it’s tempting to pack your days with activities, remember that the journey itself is part of the adventure. Include major landmarks and allow for some spontaneity – sometimes the best experiences are the ones you don’t plan for.

How to Create a Road Trip Schedule?

Allocate Time for Rest and Exploration

When planning your route, factor in time for rest and unplanned explorations. Break up long drives with stops at interesting spots – be it a quaint café, a scenic viewpoint, or a local attraction. These breaks not only prevent driver fatigue but also add an element of surprise and discovery to your journey.

Flexible Itinerary

While having a schedule is important, allow for some flexibility. Be open to changing your plans based on local recommendations, weather conditions, or simply your group’s mood. Sometimes, the most memorable moments arise from spontaneous decisions.

Flexible Itinerary

Choosing Your Path: The Art of Route Planning and Checklists

Beyond just getting from A to B, road trip route planning is about creating a journey that’s as enjoyable as the destination itself. Use mapping tools to plot your route, but don’t shy away from detours that could lead to hidden gems. Scenic byways, local eateries, and quirky roadside attractions add flavour to your road trip story.

Preparing Your Trusty Steed: The Vehicle Checklist for Road Trip

Your vehicle is your most reliable companion on this journey. Prior to departure, a comprehensive check is essential, to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy to prevent any mechanical hiccups on your trip.

  • Check Oil and Fluid Levels: Ensure engine oil, brake fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluids are topped up.
  • Inspect Tire Pressure and Tread: Check for proper inflation and adequate tread depth for safe driving.
  • Test Brakes: Ensure they are responsive and in good working condition.
  • Verify Lights and Signals: Check headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals for proper functioning.

Packing Smart: Road Trip Packing List

Packing for a road trip is an art, and packing efficiently means having what you need without cluttering your space.

  • Snacks and Water: Keep hydrated and energized with healthy snacks and plenty of water.
  • First-Aid Kit: Band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze, tape, pain relievers, allergy medication, and insect repellent
  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Pack clothes suitable for the climate and unexpected weather changes.
  • Device Chargers: Keep your devices powered up throughout the journey.
  • Camera: To capture memories along the way.
  • Epic Playlist: Curate a mix of tunes to set the mood for your road trip adventure.

Emergency Kit Checklist for Peace of Mind

Safety should never be an afterthought on a road trip. An emergency kit is a must-have and should include items like a flashlight, spare tire, basic tools, and a first-aid kit. Also, keep important documents like insurance and roadside assistance details handy.

  • Flashlight: With extra batteries.
  • Spare Tyre: Don’t forget a tyre jack and tyre iron.
  • Basic Tool Kit: Including screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, and duct tape.
  • Emergency Flares or Reflective Triangles: To signal for help and alert other drivers.
  • Jumper Cables: For jump-starting your car in case of a dead battery.
  • Portable Battery Charger: A power bank for your vehicle and devices.
  • Extra Water and Non-Perishable Snacks: In case of unexpected delays or breakdowns.
  • Blanket or Sleeping Bag: Useful in cooler climates or if you need to stay warm during a breakdown.
  • Rain Poncho and Umbrella: To stay dry in wet weather conditions.
  • Map and Compass: For navigation in areas with poor cell service.
  • Whistle: To attract attention in emergencies.
Emergency Kit Checklist for Peace of Mind

How to Stay Safe During a Road Trip?

Being aware of your surroundings and staying informed about the weather and road conditions is crucial. Ensure at least one person in the group knows basic car maintenance. In case of an emergency, it’s important to stay calm and follow the necessary safety procedures.

Where to Stay During a Road Trip? Finding the Perfect Accommodation

Accommodation plays a big part in your road trip experience. Whether you prefer camping under the stars, cosy bed and breakfasts, or hotels, book in advance where possible. Consider locations that are safe, and comfortable, and give you a taste of the local culture.

Keeping the Fun Alive: Road Trip Entertainment Ideas

Long drives can sometimes test your patience. To keep the journey enjoyable, plan a variety of entertainment options. Curate a playlist of everyone’s favourite songs, bring along audiobooks, or plan car games. Remember, laughter and good music are the fuel of a great road trip. 

Some simple fun games you can play are :

  • Antakshari: This old-time Indian favourite is where you take turns singing Bollywood songs 
  • ATLAS: This is a geography game where every player takes a turn to name a place ending with the alphabet of the place before. 
  • Words engine with -tion/-sion: Similar to Antakshari and ATLAS, you just say words that end with the -tion or sion 

Flexibility: The Road Trip’s Secret Ingredient

No matter how well you plan, road trips are full of surprises.

During one of my most memorable road trips, my friends and I had meticulously planned our route to visit a renowned hill station. However, fate had other plans. A missed exit led us down a meandering country road, away from our intended destination. Initially frustrated, we soon found ourselves captivated by the unexpected beauty of a hidden valley, dotted with wildflowers and a serene river.

The Road Trip’s Secret Ingredient

That ‘wrong’ turn introduced us to a charming local village, where we experienced impromptu hospitality and stories that enriched our journey. It was a reminder that sometimes the best adventures are the ones you never planned for.

This unplanned detour not only became the highlight of our trip but also taught us the value of embracing the unexpected with open arms. Flexibility, I learned, isn’t just an asset on road trips; it’s the secret ingredient for unforgettable experiences.

Cultural Sensitivity When Travelling: Respect as You Explore

As you travel through different regions, remember to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Do some research before your trip to understand the cultural nuances of the places you’re visiting. Being culturally sensitive ensures a more enriching and respectful travel experience for everyone involved.

  • Research Local Customs: Before your journey, take time to understand the customs, traditions, and etiquette of the places you’re visiting.
  • Observe and Respect Local Traditions: Be mindful of local practices, especially in religious or culturally significant places. Dress per the local custom, and follow specific guidelines and rules.
  • Support Local Communities: Opt for local businesses and services where possible. You get to contribute to the local economy while indulging in a more authentic experience.
  • Be Mindful of Your Impact: Travel responsibly by being environmentally conscious and respectful of the communities you visit. Avoid anything that can be considered disrespectful or offensive.

The Final Stretch: Wrapping Up Your Road Trip

As your road trip comes to a close, take time to reflect on the experiences and memories you’ve created. Whether it was the breathtaking sunset you watched together, the local delicacy you tried, or the unexpected detour that led to a beautiful hidden spot, these moments became a part of your shared history, strengthening the bonds of friendship.

Road trips, I’ve realized, are the greatest ways to create our most cherished memories. So, as you set off on your own road adventures, remember to savour every moment – the planned, the spontaneous, and everything in between. Safe travels and happy journeys!


Author : Priya Mashru

Priya is a marketing professional with 15+ years of experience in finance, advertising, real estate and e-commerce. She is also a co-founder of a content and marketing agency. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Priya has a deep appreciation for culture. Her wanderlust allows her to appreciate and respect the cultural richness of the deferent places she travels to. An avid cricket fan, a retro movie buff and a mom, Priya writes with words that captivate ones imagination.


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