Top 10 Tips For Self-Drive Long Distance Road Tripping In India

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Self Drive to Kinnaur

Self-driving for long distance travel is for those who love the journey more than the destination. It gives you multifaceted freedom and brings you closer to your tripping surrounding. And the best part is that it makes you own the every bit of your journey. You can decide the pace of your travel while maintaining your own privacy.

Road Trip is all about going off beat, off track and off mundane. While on road, liberate your mind by exposing yourself to the mountains, lakes, beaches, etc. Experience new food, meet new people, learn new things, and sometime just get lost into an unknown and strange world.

Self Drive Road Trips From Delhi

I am always confused whether I self-drive to travel unseen places or I travel to unseen places to enjoy self-driving. My city Delhi is conveniently located and offers many self-drive opportunities to explore varied terrains in India. After traveling 300 KM in either direction, there are great Himalayan destinations in Uttarakhand and Himachal. If one wishes to enjoy Indian royalty and desert storms, Rajasthan’s desert region is also roughly 500KM from Delhi. Most talked about adventurous locations of India such as Spiti Valley, Ladakh, Jispa Valley, Gangotri, Kinnaur Valley are all located in the range of 500 KM to 1000 KM from Delhi. And Central region of Himalayan kingdom of Nepal can also be reached overnight from Delhi.

Also Read – Road Trip to Spiti Valley

Sach Pass Road Trip - Himalayan Road Trips
Self Drive Road Trip Across Sach Pass

I have done numerous self-drive traveling from Delhi alone and with my wife.  As an experienced road tripper, I would like to share my learning with all the self drive aficionado.

#1 Essential Tips For Road Trip In India

Know Your Vehicle Well & Carry Essentials

If aiming for 500KM+ one side travel, make sure you visit service station before hitting the road. Wheel balancing, oil levels, filters, brake pads, battery etc should be checked. Be aware of ground clearance of your vehicle and age of tyres also. Check the condition of spare tyre as well. Once on move, if driving in plain, keep checking tyre pressure after every 200KM and if driving on hills after every 50 KM. Portable tyre inflator will come handy for long distance traveling. One must learn the art of puncher repairing too which is easy if you have tubeless tyres. So, carry a puncture repairing kit with you too. If going on a rough and bumpy drive, a Himalayan Road Trip to Ladakh, Spiti Valley or Sach Pass better buy a hydraulic jack. Carry a tow away cable not just for your vehicle but also to help others. Most important, don’t be over confident on your vehicle and your driving skills as it may turn out to be your biggest enemy.


#2 Must Know Tips For Road Trips In India

Push Hard On The First Day & The Last Day

Push hard doesn’t mean you drive fast and furiously, but drive for long hours on first day and last day as it would surely save one or two night stays in hotels. For this, on day-one leave early from your home and drive for long hours and similarly on last day, leave early from hotel and drive for long hours, even if you reach midnight at your place it should be OK. Usually, I do 15-18 hours driving on first day and last day and it’s possible because I drive easy and take multiple stops. It has helped me enormously in saving on night stays in hotels. On other days of travel also, you must set off early each day as this will allow you to take multiple pit stops and take photos or enjoy the scenes. Always keep a day for resting when you are back from long distance self-drive expedition. It’s important for two reasons, firstly in settling back with everyday’s work and secondly in retrospecting your entire travel experience.


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Another Himalayan Road Trip: The River, The Rugged Road, The Water Fall, The Car!!

#3 All About Road Trip Planning In India

How To Plan Your Food & Water

To make your road trip budget friendly, carry as much food as possible from your home especially if you are going to far off locations along Himalayan Rivers or deep in thar Desert. Stuff your car with fruits, various dry fruits and light snacks. During our long distance road trips, we carry a lot of homemade stuff like Roasted Makhana, Roasted Puffed Rice, which is also known as Muri/Murmura/Murra/Parmal, Pop Corn etc. Take in plenty and keep supplies handy. Eat in regular interval as your body requires constant supply of calories. Stocked food will enable you to locate a scenic spot to stop at and relish the food without putting efforts to find a food joint. And, nothing is better than relishing food in a valley surrounded by mountains under clear blue sky. 

Now let’s talk about water, again carry as much as you can. You will have to drink a lot of water to dash off sleep syndrome and it also helps in big way against AMS on Himlayan Road Trips. Buying water bottle is quite a dent on wallet and refilling stations are yet not everywhere in India. Also in remote locations sometimes it’s hard to find packaged water, so it is better to use all the bottles in your home for the road trip and fill them where ever possible like hotels or food joints. Stocked food and water will help you in achieving budget targets for sure.


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Maggi under Water Fall Near Naggar In Himachal Pradesh

#4 Tips to Plan Self Drive Road Trip In India

Explore Road Side Dhaba

What’s the fun of a Road trip if you do not indulge yourself with local cuisine. Road Side Dhaba can be found all over India offering local delicacies. To satiate foodie in you, you must do enough googling before commencing your trip to prepare your food-map as well. At least, once in a day you will have to eat at some road side dhaba, which is always a good option for budget travelers. I am a foodie and self-drive enables me to try different places and different taste. Identifying a dhaba is equally important and it’s an art in itself. For road trippers, thumb rule is to stop at a dhaba which has long queue of truckers. Better for you, if you stick to this rule. When you enter a dhaba, keep checking what others are having, ask for their best-selling preparation and order the same. Usually dhaba owners are very good hosts and I have even entered their open kitchen and direct them to prepare as per my wish. Dhaba chaps are very good information provider, so also talk to them about other food joints, road conditions, ATM locations, off-track locations, any local mela/fair/festivals etc. Spend some time with truckers or fellow travellers, roadtrippers also to understand roads, directions and hidden gems.


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Lucky Dhaba, Jalandhar: Proud of NH1

#5 Tips to Plan Self Drive Road Trip In India

Travel Photography Basics- Make Memories

When on self-drive mode, you have all the liberty to stop at your wish and thus technically you are sure to click more and often. It will take a toll on your camera battery and you may miss many beautiful scenes, landscapes, people on the way if its drains out. So, buy a car powered camera battery charger.  I am using one and it even charges my laptop. However, don’t indulge only in clicking photos, sometimes stop at a spot and soak in yourself with the nature. Relax, rejuvenate yourself and enjoy the nature with your naked eyes. Gives eyes time to engrave the scene in your memory. Usually I prefer photographing on my way up and strict to no photography on my way down.

For my trips, I use Canon DSLR and a Go-Pro, which can be mounted on the car. Mobile phones also come handy for quick captures and on the go posting on social media.


#6 Tips to Plan Self Drive Road Trip In India

Top Up Fuel Regularly

Fill up your petrol/diesel tank regularly especially if you in the fiefdom of Himalaya. Primarily, we need to do this as petrol pumps are rare on mountains, sometimes they have no supplies and also due to irregular electricity, they may not be working. If you wish you can carry few liters in jerry canes or in bottles. I personally don’t do this, though many people do this. Also make a note of filling stations on the way with a special mention if they accept Credit/Debit card. Where ever possible pay by Card and save on cash. Anytime you must have enough cash with you. Always carry twice the amount of cash you budgeted for, in case of emergency.

Also read – Road Trip Across Uttaranchal: Munsiyari and Stunning Panchachuli Ranges

#7 Tips to Plan Self Drive Road Trip In India

Be disciplined & Follow Road Signs

Obey speed instructions and follow all traffic rules and maintain lane discipline especially while driving in hilly regions of Himalaya. Don’t indulge in bickering with anyone on the road, as it will spoil your mood. On hills, read sign boards carefully and stick to the directions on them. In my view, driving in hills requires only two skills, first, drive in your lane religiously and second, use gears to control speed not the brakes – use engine braking as much as possible. Ideal rule is to come down a slope in the same gear you would go up in. Most accidents happen on way down, so be careful while driving down a hill.

On Himalaya, BRO (Border Road Organization) is doing a fantabulous job with blunt & funny road signs with straight talks.

#8 Quick Tips For Self Drive Road Trips In India

Enjoy Your Freedom – Go Off Route

I self-drive because it empowers my soul to feel the freedom and enable me to get to the places off the beaten track. I have the liberty to be on exploration mode always. So, keep talking with local people, road side shopkeepers, fellow travelers to understand the off-track locations. These off the track locations will dazzle you with their offerings and you will be travel-inspired with your experiences.

#9 Quick Tips For Self Drive Road Trips In India

Make playlist With Upbeat Music

Keep your pen drive loaded with music for every mood, of every genre In India or be ready with your playlist on Music Apps. In India, scene changes very fast, traffic changes randomly, road conditions are unpredictable and all this causes a rapid mood change also. So, to keep yourself alive you must have loads of music.

#10 Top Tips For Road Trips In India

Help Others & Make Friends

Core mantra behind happy road trip is to meet new people, make friends, help other fellow travelers, wave hands to locals. These things will make your journey memorable and keep you happy. Make memories at each moment. Memories of each trip should be beautifully engraved in your mind and each day must tickle your feet to drive back.

Concluding Thoughts

Self drive gives you freedom to drive at your pace, stop at your wish, relish local food and make every mile counted. The whole point of the Self-driving holiday is to enjoy the journey, take frequent breaks, admire the scenery and create memories for lifetime. It gives wings to your soul and after every trip you come back a better person.

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Road Tripping in Rajasthan

If you’ve been to self-drive road trips, please share your experiences and any tips for other’s benefit.

Happy self-driving and safe road tripping.


Related posts on my Road Trips

Quick View: A Road trip to Bastar in Chhattisgarh – The Tribal Planet

Quick View: Self Drive Road Trip to Naggar in Kullu Valley near Manali

Quick View: Self Drive road trip to Rajasthan covering Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Thar Desert

Self Drive Roadtrip On Unexplored Road From Dharchula To Munsiyari Via Jauljibi In Uttaranchal, India

Self Drive to Chhitkul: The Last Inhabited Village on Indo-Tibet Border


If you feel motivated, please share this blog post with your loved ones so that they can break the mundane cycle of everyday life and explore the world through road tripping.




31 thoughts on “Top 10 Tips For Self-Drive Long Distance Road Tripping In India

  1. trablog says:

    That’s an awesome article. Like you said once, you are lucky to be located at a convenient place. Well many people forget to fill their spare tyre. It will be lying there for months with our air inside!! That’s one common thing that I have seen.

  2. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie says:

    Road trips are so freeing! You can make the choice to stop or not, or even change your destination altogether. I have drive across the United States and through parts of Europe and your tips are right on the mark. Being prepared with supplies and making sure your car is ready can make or break a road trip.

  3. Mar Pages says:

    Thanks for this, great tips on the road. It is important to bring food with you because you never know how long you will take to reach places sometimes and it is a shame to stop somewhere to eat petrol station food because you coulndt find something else. Good idea as well on the riding long hours on first and last day to save on hotel

  4. Laura says:

    Great tips, plus many of these things are necessary when on the road for long periods. You never know when you’ll get a flat and be stuck without help.

  5. Ollie says:

    “Photography: When on self-drive mode, you have all the liberty to stop at your wish and thus technically you are sure to click more and often.” This is the most important reason for me to take a car 🙂 and I really liked how you put the red car into the photos 🙂

    • Himanshu says:

      Thanks Ollie. Self drive road trip means freedom. And if u read my blogs…they are mostly abt road tripping. 🙂 and hence i give good footage to my car also.

  6. elenasonnino says:

    I am not a huge fan of road trips usually but I do enjoy the spontaneity that comes from driving – and deciding to explore something that you find “just because.”

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