The wind in your hair, the endless road in front of you and the thrill of exploring new places – road trips are unlike any other travelling experience.
They also come with a lot of responsibility and planning skills which are a must if you'd like to enjoy a hassle-free, smooth experience.
While there are multiple road trip travel guides and road trip planners, it's upto you to choose one that suits your needs. We recommend sticking to the basics and starting easy for all newbies who'd like to experience the road trip life.
All You Need To Know About Road trips
As exciting as road trips sound, they involve a lot of planning. From mapping routes, itineraries, packing to car servicing, basic know-how of car fixing and building physical stamina – road trips are a lot of hard work.
The first rule of planning a good road trip is to stick to your itinerary. While going off the route might seem like an interesting proposition on every new turn, it isn't the most ideal. The best road trips are those where you follow your map and let the road lead you.
It's best to leave some space for flexibility in your itinerary and also to plan ahead for unpredictable situations. Weather conditions, roadblocks, car break-downs and lack of good pit stops are problems that most travellers deal with.
Another thing that one needs to keep in mind before planning road trips is preparing the right kind of itinerary according to your travel style. If you are heading to the hills, there will be a different set of problems while coastal areas will have different issues. As a traveller, you must know the kind of issues that you are willing to tackle.
How to Plan your Road Trips
The best way to plan a road trip is by narrowing down the deciding factors including duration, places to visit, interests and vehicle. There are some travellers who prefer road trips on a bike and others who'll choose a car. Irrespective of what you are deciding, ensure that your technical know-how is updated and you are comfortable with the vehicle.
Another that might help in planning the perfect road trip is if you are planning with your co-passengers. While family road trips are a great idea; more often than not they tend to be quite tiresome for children and elderly. So ensure that you plan your road trip keeping in mind the preferences and limitations of your co-passengers.
Here are a few guidelines to remember before you plan your road trips:
What to pack for your road trips
Your packing list for the road is your saviour. Packing efficiently is not only a necessity but it's also the smart thing to do to ensure that everything flows smoothly. Here is a universal packing list for all kinds of road trips in India.
Of course, this list will be drastically different if you are travelling on a bike but most of the things are a must.
Where to go on a Road Trip in India
A road trip anywhere in India can be a life-changing experience. One can claim that it is the rustic villages, the serene roads, the warm culture or simply the magic of road trips that make India such a favourite. But whatever might be the reason, the cities of India are a delight for adventure enthusiasts who love road trips.
Another great thing about planning a road trip in India is that there are a number of places that one can visit. From Leh Ladakh in the north to Kerala in the south and Meghalaya in the north-east, India promises an unforgettable experience.
Our favourite places for road trips in India are:
Mumbai to Goa
Travellers who have taken a road trip on this route can't stop raving about how absolutely gorgeous it is. Enveloped by the Western Ghats, the highway takes one through small villages and offers a glimpse of the Indian countryside. While one can complete the journey in one day, it's highly recommended to spend the night at one of the coastal villages.
The road is smooth and the only thing that will delay you are the numerous toll gates. Be prepared with extra change. While there are several eating joints on this route which have slowly gained popularity with travellers, you can also carry your snacks for the road trip. The 599km stretch typically takes travellers close to 12 hours to cover.
Cost: A road trip from Mumbai to Goa will cost you around Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000. This amount may vary depending on your vehicle and other inclusions.
Manali to Leh
Manali to Leh is what dream road trips are made of. Challenging, surreal, thrilling and life-changing, this long road trip is what most travellers aspire to take at least once. Taking one through winding roads, dangerous stretches, picturesque villages and diverse landscapes, the 479km stretch is best covered over a period of five days.
If you aren't in a hurry to reach Leh, you can also cover this stretch in seven days. In fact, most travellers spend far more time in the villages of Keylong, Jispa and Sarchu than intended owing to the sheer beauty of these villages.
Manali to Leh is counted among the best road trips in India, but it is important for travellers to remember that the road is quite tricky and one needs weeks of preparation to cover this stretch. Besides, the physical preparation, one also needs exceptional driving and riding skills depending on the vehicle you are choosing. Another thing to remember when planning road trips in the mountains is that it’s best to travel without children. The roads are unpredictable and depending on weather conditions, your journey might be delayed.
Cost: A road trip from Manali to Leh can cost you anywhere between Rs.20,000 to Rs.45,000 but this will depend on the places you are covering and the duration of your journey.
Jaipur to Jaisalmer
Rajasthan is well-known across the country for the best network of roads. Connecting major tourist cities, Rajasthan highways are ideal for road trips simply because they are in pristine condition. In fact, if you are wondering about the best way to discover the vibrant state of Rajasthan – pack your things and get in a car.
Among the best road trip options for Rajasthan, Jaipur to Jaisalmer is a great idea. Located at a distance of 559km, Jaisalmer is one of the most popular cities of Rajasthan and is known for its rugged charm. On the other hand, the capital city of Jaipur is a delight to discover for history lovers, shopaholics and food lovers.
For travellers planning a trip to Jaisalmer from Jaipur, we recommend taking RJ SH 19 which is one of the smoothest routes between the two cities. The best pit stops en route are Ajmer and Pushkar. If you’d like, you can also take a detour and cover the city of Jodhpur.
Cost: A road trip from Jaipur to Jaisalmer will cost you Rs.30,000 to Rs.50,000.
Delhi to Udaipur
Delhi to Udaipur is one of the most underrated road trips. Complete with scenic roads, vibrant villages and enthralling cities, the drive from Delhi to Udaipur is mesmerising, to say the least. While one can cover the distance of 665km in one stretch, it’s highly recommended to take your time to explore the beautiful villages and cities that you may cross. Typically, travellers take the by-pass before Jaipur and head straight to Ajmer or Pushkar. This not only saves time but also gives one an opportunity to visit Jaipur on the way back.
We recommend stretching this trip over four to five days and dedicate time in each city. Besides the beautiful city of Jaipur, one can spend time in the sacred town of Pushkar and can also cover Mount Abu.
History lovers can also spend a night at Chittorgarh before heading back to Delhi. The major highlights of a road trip from Delhi to Udaipur are delicious food, smooth roads and the numerous beautiful cities you can explore.
Cost: A road trip from Delhi to Chittorgarh can cost you anywhere between Rs.20,000 to Rs.40,000.
Chennai to Pondicherry
Chennai to Pondicherry is one of the most popular road trips in India. With a distance of 155km between them, both cities are a delight to discover for travellers. While the distance can be easily covered in three to four hours, it is a must for all road trip enthusiasts.
You can choose to take the route that goes through Mahabalipuram and if your schedule allows, you can make a pit stop here. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most beautiful places in Tamil Nadu. You can also include Edaikazhinadu, Mudaliarkuppam and Marakkanam, Mudaliarkuppam on your road trip.
If this is your first time travelling in Tamil Nadu, we recommend including stops in small eating joints for a taste of the delicious local cuisine.
Cost: A road trip from Chennai to Pondicherry will cost you anywhere between Rs.4000 to Rs.10,000.
Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley
Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley makes for one of the most gorgeous road trips in India. A stunning combination of diverse landscapes with the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Eastern Ghats on the other, this road trip is ideal for nature lovers.
Another reason why this road trip needs to be on your bucket list is that Araku Valley is one of the most underrated places to visit in India. Complete with verdant fields, picturesque meadows, small lakes and coffee fields – you’ll be in awe of this small hilly hamlet in Andhra Pradesh.
The distance between the two places is 116km which makes it convenient for travellers to make several pit stops. We recommend making a stop at Borra Caves, Tatipudi Reservoir on your journey as the roads are quite smooth. The best time to take this trip is between October and March.
Cost: A road trip from Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley will cost you anywhere between Rs.7000 to Rs.10,000 depending on the number of places you visit.
Where to go on a Road trip abroad
The best way to explore a place is to become one with it. From driving through backroads to spending time with the locals and trying local cuisines – there are numerous ways in which you can explore a place like a local. Travellers across the world also consider road trips a great way to travel. While getting international driving licenses can be difficult, there are some places which give tourists temporary driving licenses.
If you are unable to get a driving license, you can always hire a car with a driver for an unforgettable road trip. This might be a little expensive but it will definitely be worth your time and money. Pooling with fellow travellers is also a great way to save money on road trips abroad.
Let’s take a look at the most popular international road trips:
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Australia is a haven for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Not only does it give you a chance to connect with nature, but it also offers a variety of experiences unlike any other. The Great Ocean Road is one of the most popular road trip routes in the world. Spanning 600km, the drive takes one through thick forests, verdant fields and picturesque sea cliffs.
If you have some time on your hands, you can make multiple pit stops and admire the natural beauty Australia is known for. There are a number of beaches on this route and some of them are quite well-known for surfing. So if you have adventure on your mind, we recommend planning your itinerary in a manner which allows you ample time in these small beach towns.
We suggest keeping aside a few extra days on your road trip to the Great Ocean Road since there are several places which can tempt you to change your plans! For all international trips, it’s recommended to keep your identification and passport handy.
Cost: A road trip to the Great Ocean Road can cost you anywhere between Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000.
North Coast 500, Scotland
A road trip through North Coast is ideal for history lovers and art enthusiasts. A cultural journey, the road trip needs to be on your bucket list if you’d like to see a different side of the dreamy country.
There are numerous whiskey distilleries on the route along with Scotland’s popular coastal landscape and archaic castles. The best thing about driving through North Coast 500 is that you can choose to complete the trip in your own time. Taking anywhere from seven to fourteen days, this mesmerising road trip is a journey of a lifetime. Remember to carry your tents and camping supplies for this trip since there are a number of camping sites which you won’t be able to resist.
The road takes you through busy towns so you can replenish your supplies and also enjoy the local cuisine. If you happen to be on this road trip with locals, you are in for an exciting, unforgettable time.
Cost: Driving through North Coast 500 can cost one anywhere between Rs.30,000 to Rs.40,000 depending on the number of stops you take.
Cabot Trail, Canada
Canada is perfect for those who enjoy road trips. With a change in the landscape every few kilometres, you’ll be in awe of the spellbinding views this country promises. The Cabot Trail is one of the most popular routes for a road trip in Canada. The trail is 298km long and extends from Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia. Overlooking the North Atlantic, the route promises views of some of the most breathtaking sites in the world.
The Cabot Trail takes one through the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park and is ideal for travellers who enjoy taking breaks on their road trip. The national park is ideal for short walking tours and if you are looking for a stop, this should be it.
There are a number of small villages on the route so you should have a detailed itinerary in order to spend some time in your favourite places. Reminiscent of French-influenced Acadian culture, the locals in these villages are more than willing to give you a tour of their land. Among the most popular places to make a stop, we recommend taking a break in Chéticamp. A small fishing village, it has the best local seafood on the route. For those who’d like to catch a glimpse of whales and seals, do include a visit to Pleasant Bay for uninterrupted views.
Cost: It can cost you anywhere between Rs.40,000 to Rs.55,000 for your road trip
The Alcan Highway, Canada to Alaska
Considered to be one of the most scenic routes in the world, Canada to Alaska through the Alcan Highway is a must for travellers. A fine example of North America’s wild landscapes, you need to be cautious of periodic snowstorms.
Besides the harsh weather conditions, the numerous eating joints will keep you busy and on your toes. We recommend preparing a comprehensive itinerary for your road trip from Canada to Alaska simply because there is so much to see. Hiking detours on this route are highly recommended and if you have time, you must visit Liard River Hot Springs and Muncho Lake.
Since you’ll be crossing country borders, remember to keep all your identification with you at all times.
Cost: A road trip from Canada to Alaska will cost you anywhere between Rs.40,000 to Rs.60,000.
One of the most popular routes of Hokkaido Scenic Byway in Japan, Shikotsu-Toya-Niseko is most popular among nature lovers. Giving travellers an opportunity to explore the surreal beauty of Central Hokkaido, the route takes one through Shikotsu-Toya National Park and Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Quasi-National Park.
Another reason for its popularity is that the route gives you uninterrupted views of Mt.Yotei. Majestic and spellbinding, keep aside some time to admire this stunning mountain. There are a number of lakes, verdant fields and vibrant gardens to keep photographers busy while small eating joints will keep food lovers quite happy.
The area is divided into three zones in an effort to make the drive easier for travellers. The first area is known as Welcome to Hokkaido, followed by Lake Toya area and the Niseko-Yotei area.
The three areas are divided according to their landscapes and offer travellers a memorable trip. With something to look forward to in all areas, we recommend planning your itinerary according to your travel interests. For instance, if you are a nature lover, we suggest spending most of your time in the third stretch which is home to Mt.Yotei.
Cost: To plan your road trip along the Shikotsu-Toya-Niseko Park Route, it can cost anywhere between Rs.25,000 to Rs.35,000.
Which are the best places in India for bike road trips?
The best places in India for bike road trips are Manali to Leh, Mumbai to Pune, Manali to Shimla, Shillong to Cherrapunjee and Mumbai to Mount Abu.
Which are the best road trips in the world?
The best road trips in the world are Garden Route in South Africa, Gobi Desert in Mongolia, NC500 in Scotland, Ticlio Pass in Peru and the Atlantic Road in Norway.
Which are the best places for solo road trips in India?
The best places for a solo road trip in India are Jaipur to Pushkar, Chennai to Pondicherry, Jodhpur to Jaisalmer and Goa to Gokarna.
Share two tips to plan a good road trip itinerary?
Two important tips to plan a good road trip itinerary are sticking to a route map without too many diversions and the second is to travel with a set budget.
Which are the best one-day road trips in India?
The best one-day road trips in India are Delhi to Agra, Delhi to Jaipur, Jaipur to Pushkar, Chandigarh to Shimla, Bangalore to Coorg and Mumbai to Matheran.
Which are the best places for road trips in India during winter?
The best places for road trips in India during winter are Delhi to Gujarat, Jaipur to Jaisalmer, Indore to Mandu, Gwalior to Chanderi and Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh.
What documentation should one carry during a road trip?
Carrying complete documentation during a road trip is one of the first rules. One must always have a valid driving license, registration papers, pollution certificates and insurance papers during any road trip.
Suggest best two-day road trips in South India?
The best road trips in south India are Chennai to Munnar, Bangalore to Ooty and Kochi to Kanyakumari.
How much do road trips in India cost?
Road trips in India can cost anywhere between Rs.5000 to Rs.50,000 depending on the duration of your trip and the number of places you visit.
Which are the best international road trips from India?
The best international road trips from India are Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.