NEW DELHI: We're bringing a new found love of road trips with us, with travel restrictions easing and summer travel on the horizon. Staycations may have felt like the only option for the past few summers, but we've realised that those local adventures helped us appreciate the ease and flexibility of having our own wheels when on vacation.
Last year, 48 per cent of Indian tourists rented a car as part of their vacation, giving them all the freedom of car ownership - at a fraction of the cost, and pretty much anywhere in the world.
This indicates that travellers intend to avoid taking public transportation on their next trip because they know that nothing says freedom like hitting the road and seeing where it takes them. It's all about giving people the freedom to explore the world on their own terms, which fits with today's trend toward more independent, personalised travel.
Booking.com shares some top summer road trip tips as part of its mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. Short, long, planned, unplanned... A good road trip does not have a single format. Nonetheless, there are a few basic principles that apply in any situation:
The journey is the vacation
'Making good time' doesn't mean going fast; it means making sure every minute is a joy. Motorways might be convenient, but the real adventures are to be found on the backroads, where we're free to turn off and explore every interesting forest, building, turn off, or beach we happen to stumble across.
The right car is vital
Above all, the car needs to be right for the trip. A compact car can make sense if the itinerary includes lots of busy city streets - but for a long trip with plenty of people and stacks of luggage, there's nothing like having some extra space to stretch out. Whether looking for an SUV for extra comfort and space or something with a bit more horsepower, Booking.com offers travellers a broad range of rental cars with easy-to-use search functions.
Planning pays off
Even the most spontaneous adventure is better with a bit of prep. Not just the physical stuff (from snacks and drinks to sunscreen and appropriate footwear), but answers to a few important questions, like "Who's driving?" or "How many hours a day?".
There's nothing like organised chaos
It's great to keep it flexible - within a few basic parameters. For example? A circular route avoids a long, boring drive at the end of the trip. And even the most laid-back itineraries can benefit from including a few 'must-have' experiences. A refundable accommodation booking allows for a change of last-minute plan, and if you can't actually make the trip for whatever reason, it's worth bearing in mind that you can always opt for car rentals which come with free cancellation 48 hours before pick up.
Mobile data is a lot cheaper than it used to be, but that doesn't mean the connection's always reliable. So downloading maps and music ahead of time can make the trip a lot smoother and more enjoyable.
The experts say it's healthy to factor in a 10-minute break every two hours or so. Stretching the legs is only part of it: taking a break from driving relaxes the mind, which means it's more alert when back at the wheel!