Tips on planning a driving holiday in India
I recently got back to work from a small break in Goa with the family, an annual ritual that always sees me heading to someplace that's close by to home and which offers me room service. There is another holiday with the family that is usually more adventurous. But this one is specifically reserved to a destination that can be driven to comfortably and forces me to do little other than stretch out my hand for a pint of cold beer!
The choice of destination is usually left up to my son and invariably its always been Goa because like me he also loves good food, the sand and the surf. Being just 600km from home also makes Goa a comfortable drive, it is neither too taxing or lengthy.
Here then is how I plan out my driving for the holiday with the family. First off we always leave on a Sunday morning , no other day of the week will do. This is simply because Sunday mornings are lazy, there is a smidgen of traffic on the roads and rather than having to leave at an absurd hour, me and the wife wake up at 6, make the sandwiches, haul our nine year old and baggage to the car and are ready to leave home by a half past seven. In one stroke we have avoided the stress of weekday traffic.
Leaving a little later in the day also has another vital advantage; I get a bit more sleep the night before. I have even left home at noon on occasion and managed to reach Goa in time for dinner. But either way what this results in is a more focused drive, I am not left fighting any last vestiges of sleep and that makes the drive safer.
A vital strategy to making your drive safe is to adopt a slower pace as soon as you leave home, raise your pace as the day progresses and then as you get closer to your destination force yourself to reduce your pace again. Most people start driving on their holiday with the intent to get to their destination as quickly as possible and put pedal to metal the instant the car leaves its parking slot. Most accidents take place within the first couple of hours. In those initial hours you are still not as attentive as you should be worrying over last minute stuff that you should have done at home or work. You haven't yet escaped your daily routine and at the back of your mind there are still some issues working themselves out.
A lot of incidents also take place in what we call the home run stretch, or the last hundred odd kilometers before your destination. Knowing that your destination is getting closer often makes drivers anxious to reach it quickly. Since the larger part of their journey was covered safely most drivers take needless risks on the last legs of their journey. How often have I seen or heard of holiday makers drives turning ugly on those last legs. So dial it down several notches especially once you get closer to base.
Plan your drive on a road that offers you a mix of roads. Smooth long stretches where you can make up time and some slow scenic legs that allow you to take in the sights and break the monotony of driving over those long bits will make the journey interesting. It also keeps you alert. Don't drive on stretches that are full of corners even if it appeals to the driver in you. In India with slow moving traffic you often get frustrated if you cannot utilise those corners and this forces you into errors. Too many long straights are also not always smart as these can induce boredom and effectively dim your senses and thus reaction times.
It's also a good idea to pack in some food for a long drive. Stopping over for a break may be a good thing but I have noticed anything over a half hour makes the next couple of hours of your drive lethargic. And that is often a dangerous thing because you as a driver aren't at your most focused and this could end badly. You can easily devour a sandwich when you stop to refuel and a 600km drive will invariably make you stop to fill up your tank, once at the very least. Sandwiches also let you eat on the move and if you need a break stop to pee or just stretch, whatever frees up your muscles and invigorates you.
Fewer stops also mean you reach your destination early, returning from Goa, we left at around 7:00am on a Saturday morning and made it back to Bombay in nine hours flat. My speedo needle did not cross 110kmph, we made one stop to have some tea and Maggi in fifteen minutes flat,
a couple more stops to ease our bladders and a leisurely pace on the Pune to Mumbai expressway saw us home in time for evening tea. "Safety on the roads is safe tea at home."
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