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Highway Long Drive Tips

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I keep seeing discussions on many forums about such topics, So I have summarized the following tips from about 1L km of touring between 2005 and 2010. They are not about a checklist to carry, not basics, not preps but more on the how-to

  • Breaks
    Breaks are like salt. Absolutely critical for any long journey - but both overdose and absence can be lethal. Don't push beyond your physical limit and recognize sleep when it is coming. Don't fall into the trap of "just another 60km or one hour more". The longer the journey - the more critical it is to be disciplined in taking breaks. The only key is knowing how to limit your breaks. If you're like me and you like to (over)eat - you may even choose to have light food in the daytime hours, or nap after a heavy meal. Even a half hour nap will do.
  • Napping
    I am a great believer in the power of pre-emptive naps to keep one fresh at all times during the journey. There are two ways to do it: Eat at punjabi trucker dhabas which have a charpoy, Sleep within your car itself but only advisable in uber busy joints or toll nakas
  • Diet
    Control what you eat as you ride/drive. If you end up over eating or consuming too much sugar when you are tired, it can make you drowsy. Some people can get refreshed with chai, but for me, its pre-emptive coffee (without sugar). When I am a bit tired driving I simply avoid all carbs as far as possible. Stuff like Red bull is expensive but black coffee does the job mostly. Or a cheap alternative with a bit of sugar is Tzinga.
  • Defensive driving
    On a really long drive (over 500km), its imperative that one is really defensive on the road - i.e pre-emptively slow down whenever you're overtaking a truck at an intersection. Notice the little things - when the traffic seems to be building up and suddenly local cabbies take a side cut, when you enter a no-entry zone (somehow these signs are inevitably covered by a vendor or are damaged)
  • Upgrade lights
    This is the one thing I cannot emphasize enough. Get good 60W lights with nice throw (not the crap 100W bluish/whitish lights which blind oncoming traffic more). It helps in viewing road signs nicely as well.
  • Contact lenses
    If you wear specs, then it is imperative to get contact lenses or at the least, yellow tinted prescription glasses. There is almost always a lot of glare involved in night driving, and if you cruise highways regularly you will run into it. So be prepared.
  • Get a good GPS
    GPS navigation in India has frankly come of age. Atleast for most big cities or tourist landmarks, you will be routed nicely. Yes, its good to ask locals for directions, but only if the GPS is leading you on a wild goose chase, or its a rural/colony level destination. Even stopping to ask directions is a waste of time esp on the highways. The Idea Blade 3G is an extremely VFM phone for its price, can be modded with a bit of effort, and is both good all around, as well as for running navigation apps - Google Maps or Sygic.
  • Be Flexible
    Never push beyond a point - be ready to drop/change plans if you are getting late. There is a thin dividing line between determination and stupidity.

Above all, relax. If the truckies can do it, chances are, you are far smarter and can manage it easily.

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Story | by Dr. Radut