How to plan a road trip

The road ahead is just a phrase unless you put pedal to metal and test its mettle. Learn to manoeuvre it right.

Print Edition: June 27, 2010

Does the sweltering heat of the summer compel you to run away from the city, to keep driving till you reach the mountains? Well, we can't think of a better way to beat the heat. However, when you're on a selfdriven trip like this, you have to factor in some important points. Here are some things you need to know.

For your vehicle: Ensure that you get a car that does not wheeze as you gain altitude. Some city cars can't travel much more than 5,000 feet above sea level without breaking down while others can easily go beyond 18,000 feet. The Maruti Gypsy is extremely reliable for up to 10,000 feet whereas the Mahindra Scorpio can even be driven up to Siachen! The Land Rover and Pajero are ideal for such terrain as well. Keep a backup of spare parts just in case your car breaks down in difficult terrain.

Ensure that you have functioning hazard lights and torch lights. Also, invest in a brightly-coloured overall and reflective light/ tapes that can be easily sighted in case of an emergency. If possible, drive a car with a GPS or carry a GPS device. Also, you could get maps from mapsofindia.com and load them onto your GPS system. If possible, have a back-up driver.

Safety procedures: Typically, the human body can only climb up to 1,500 feet in a day. Any more and the body can go into shock. Always heed the magic figure of 10,000 feet. Above this height, the human body often breaks down so make sure you acclimatise thoroughly by halting for an entire day at that height, and drink lots of fluids. Diamox is a handy medication to battle altitude sickness.

Anti-histamines work best for allergies sparked by a sudden change in environment-be it caused by water, dust, food or pollen. Ensure that you're carrying medication to battle all minor ailments and carry food that won't perish in a day.

Be aware of what you're consuming. Always carry water purification tablets. Plan and prevent, that's what we say, and have a great road trip.

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