Road trip – these two words never fail to stir a sense of excitement and adventure. However, unexpected, unforeseen troubles can kill this excitement in a heartbeat. The rawness and adrenaline rush of the experience notwithstanding, the success of a road trip lies in meticulous and detailed planning that covers all contingencies. Before you load up your backpack and hit the road, spare a thought to these five top problems you are likely to face on a road trip and learn ways to avoid them:
Typically, a road trip entails going off the grid and exploring the exotic, lesser-known locales. This also means you will be away from well-equipped service stations that can tend to your vehicle in case of any sudden breakdowns. It, then, becomes imperative to get your vehicle checked and serviced before you hit the road. Pay special attention to brakes, wheel bearings, fan belts, as these can snap in rugged terrains, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Try and learn how to fix minor issues such as hose leaks, battery replacement and overheated carburettor and keep a toolkit handy.
Getting a flat tyre is almost inevitable on a long road trip, especially if it includes rugged terrain and unsealed roads. Consider carrying not one but two spare tyres, if the boot space in your vehicle permits, and make sure you have the complete tyre replacement kit – jack, wheel wedges, lug wrench, spare nuts and a flashlight – as even one missing element can turn the fairly simple task of changing tyres into a nightmarish ordeal. Get your flat tyre fixed at first repair shop you find en route, for two flat tyres mean long hours of being stuck on the road.
Losing your way
You are certainly going to need assistance with directions on a road trip. Be mindful of the fact that a lot of remote destinations and rural locales lack the speedy internet connectivity that is a given in the urban way of life. Use the My Maps feature on Google Maps to create a custom map for your trip and add pins for multiple locations for ease of access. Save it in offline mode so that you can access it even without any internet connectivity. Carry a paper map (and learn on to read it) as a backup.
Falling ill while on a holiday is the perhaps the worst kind of a spoiler but it is totally possible. The likelihood of getting sick increases when you are out road tripping, driving for long hours, exposed to weather elements, eating from roadside kiosks, and perhaps even sourcing water to drink from natural water bodies or natives’ homes. Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit with over-the-counter medication for flu, stomach problems, fever, in addition to painkillers, antiseptic and bandages.
Poor Quality Fuel
Poor quality or adulterated fuel is a common problem at small fuel stations in obscure locations. From minor problems like adversely impacting mileage to major issues engine knocking, engine hesitation due to incomplete combustion, hard starting, and in extreme cases, engine failure, consequences of substandard fuel can run a full gambit. Avoid putting any extra pressure on your vehicle that is already in overdrive by getting your fuel tank filled to capacity at every big pump, affiliated to a trusted fuel company, you come across. Look out for a pump where trucks are getting refuelled.
Cover as much ground as possible, cater to every possible contingency but leave room for some spontaneity too. After all, a road trip is all about rolling with the punches.