There is no right or wrong way to travel, all of us love traveling via different modes of transport. I avoid long road trips, as I strongly believe that we need to curb environmental pollution, and just cribbing about it won’t do much, So I feel the simplest way to contribute when we’re on an adventurous solo trip, is by traveling via public transport. Trains and buses are the most easily available and affordable options.
I prefer to travel by train, but once I’m at my desired destination I hire a two-wheeler to explore around. There have been instances where lack of planning or forgetfulness has resulted in certain issues on my solo road travel. Two very important things I learned since 2016 are; Be practical when you’re on your own at an unknown place, don’t wander into secluded places, take a local/guide along with you, and yes second advice before leaving for the solo trip you need to research a lot about the places you will be visiting. As a solo traveler, I feel much confident once I have a basic idea about the place I’m about to explore, for example, availability of important things like immediate medical attention, network availability, connectivity to the market place, easy access to public transport and so on.
As much as I love spontaneity, I feel stress-free once I’m aware of my surroundings, it also helps me be more organized. I have faced many tough situations while on the road and was fortunate enough to find help. If you’re planning a solo trip after this pandemic is officially over, make sure you follow these practical yet very basic tips I am sharing from my personal solo road trip experiences.
Full Fuel Tank:
Okay, I know, This sounds so basic, but it’s important when you’re traveling through rural regions. There are fewer gas stations, and for miles, you won’t find one, and even if you do, chances are they’re not functional, and believe me, overconfidence is the last thing you need when it comes to filling up your tank for a stress-free road trip, always make sure your tank is sufficiently filled. You don’t want to be stuck on roads where there are no people around to help. I learned this in 2017 when I ran out of fuel but luckily got help from the locals. Calculate the distance you will be traveling for the day(use google maps), and refill your tank as required, better safe than sorry.
Save Emergency Contact Numbers:
Such basic things never really crossed my mind, I was extremely carefree until 2019, in February 2019 I was stuck in a remote area and had nobody around to ask for help(that’s the only drawback of traveling in remote villages) I had to wait for two hours before I could finally get help, and that is when I realized how important it is to have emergency contact numbers handy. In rarest of rare cases Having a proper network can be an issue, but Network or No network, Always save the contact number of the person you hired the vehicle from and any local mechanics contact number. Local people have functional phones( of different network providers) you can always borrow their phone to make a call.
Also, inform the people where you’re staying at about your itinerary for the day, so at least someone knows where to send help if you don’t return by dinner time. These are practical suggestions. I have had quite a few problems traveling solo on road, but it gets better with experience.
Carry Valid identity Proofs and drive safe:
Never travel without a driver’s license, don’t hire a vehicle if you don’t have a valid license, don’t drive/ride if you’re under 18,(Be a law-abiding citizen). It’s compulsory in India to have a valid identity proof and driver’s license before hiring a vehicle, also make sure you don’t forget to wear a helmet, helmets and seat belts are for our safety nobody gains anything except us, safety first, fashion statement last. See no matter how adventurous you think you’re, driving on steep unfamiliar roads is tricky no matter how good you are at driving. Be cautious on curvy and Narrow roads, drive slow, steady, and safe. Don’t overtake, drive slow near schools and villages, and if you’re driving through small villages drive with extra caution as animals are usually walking in herds. I am mentioning really basic things, that’s because many of us get very excited looking at empty roads and neglect the speed limit. Also, hire Vehicles from people who provide valid documents, like RC book, updated PUC card, vehicle insurance papers.
Carry charged gadgets:
Always make sure your phones and cameras are fully charged before you start your road trip, not just for clicking pictures and listening to music (not while riding/driving alone) but also in case of emergency electronic gadgets come handy, for instance, mobile torch and Google maps are there to efficiently guide us. Charged phones are crucial if you want to Contact family back at home, or for contacting your hotel. Keep your camera ready as You never know when the photographer in you might spot something interesting to click.
Note– Don’t stop on narrow roads to click pictures, don’t click pictures from a moving vehicle if you’re riding/driving the vehicle.
Don’t hesitate to ask for directions:
Network can be an issue when you’re traveling to off-beat rural locations, google maps are of no help in such situations, I agree milestones are helpful but, then faded milestone indicators tend to confuse at times. When we travel on national highways or while visiting a popular tourist attraction we may not face such problems, but it may happen at interior places and off-beat locations, and during such situation don’t shy away from asking for directions, be it local people or Police at check posts, asking for help is much better than getting lost. I know at times there’s no one around to ask for help, in such case, make sure you leave well prepared(ask the host or staff of the hotel you’re staying at for detailed directions) and when in doubt don’t be shy to ask the first person you see for help. I was very hesitant initially, now I know it’s better to stop and ask someone to guide you rather than driving for miles without direction.
Traveling solo or not Next time you hit the road make sure you follow this checklist. These are very basic tips to make your road travel safe, breathe easy, travel smart, and do let me know about your road travel experiences. Have a great weekend fellow wildflowers, see you next Thursday.