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A Handy Packing List for Your International Road Trip

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To start with and to get you comfortable with the idea of international road trip, I had jotted down a list of countries you could think about starting with – Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand – countries that are closer to home. This will give you a feel of a road trip and will also help determine whether you are a true “road tripper”. But as exciting and adventurous as they may sound, road trips are quite demanding and require you to be prepared for whatever comes your way. This could range from car problems to health issues and could just strike when you’re in the middle of nowhere. And then of course, there are the mandatories of visas, travel insurance and foreign exchange, but I just entrusted that part to Thomas Cook so that I could focus on planning the trip. But more about this in the later part of the article.

road trip

While you cannot always foresee problems, your best defence is to prepare for them. Which is why, We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of road trip essentials. You might wonder what little things like a jar of petroleum jelly has to do with it, but you’ll be surprised at how handy it can be from calming chapped lips and elbows to keeping the car dashboard shining clean. To make it even easier for you, We’ve broken down the list in different segments to help you tick and take what you need. Not all road trips are the same so only pack what is absolutely essential, as driving an overloaded or overfilled car can slow you down. Apart from charting a route plan, a road trip planner for stuff to pack will ensure you are not left stranded if you need something important.

1. Check your vehicle

Service the vehicle: The health of your car is as important as yours. If you are driving a brand new car, it is advisable to pack a few kilometres under its belt before the long journey, preferably after its first service. You’ll be more comfortable with the car and also the problems (if any), will reveal themselves and can be taken care of.

The health of your car is as important as yours. If you are driving a brand new car, it is advisable to pack a few kilometres under its belt before the long journey, preferably after its first service. You’ll be more comfortable with the car and also the problems (if any), will reveal themselves and can be taken care of.

Service the vehicle: The health of your car is as important as yours. If you are driving a brand new car, it is advisable to pack a few kilometres under its belt before the long journey, preferably after its first service. You’ll be more comfortable with the car and also the problems (if any), will reveal themselves and can be taken care of.

If you will be driving an old car, get it thoroughly checked, serviced and fixed – however minor the problem may seem. You do not want to be stranded in another country which does not have the spare parts of your car’s brand.

After you’ve gone under the hood, go outside it and check the tyres and tyre pressure, especially of the spare. Make sure all the lights are working and fill up your tank to full.

GPS and Maps: This is your best friend on the road. I would suggest installing a separate GPS system in your car if it does not have an inbuilt one. Yes, I know that we typically like to use our phones, but I find the large screens of these external units more convenient to see. If you still insist, a phone mount will make it easier to see the route and drive. If you do want to use your phone’s GPS, make sure to download the route when you have Wi-Fi access as some roads are not network-friendly. And the last thing you want is to be standing at a deserted crossroad wondering which way to go. I also carry physically printed maps as a backup just in case my phone dies out.

Car Documents: Ensure that you have all your documents in original (I would also carry photocopies and scan and upload these documents as back-up). These should include:

  • Invoice of car purchase
  • Registration
  • Insurance Certificate
  • PUC certificate

Also keep your car owner’s manual for any emergencies.

Driver’s License: Some countries allow Indian Nationals to drive on an Indian Driver’s Licence, so check on the requirements. If you have to apply for an International Driver’s Licence, do it in advance but also take your Indian License with you.

2. Check your luggage

Bag size: Like I mentioned, the heavier the car, the slower you go. ‘Less is More’ is the thumb rule for road trips so let’s start with the bag size. While strollers are the most convenient option, they’re not great on roads that are uneven or cobbled. A backpack with wheels on the other hand, gives you the advantages of both.

Clothing: Carry clothes that can be layered for e.g., a jacket can turn a pair of jeans and tee into smart evening attire. Get yourself packing organizers for your clothes and toiletries – they help pack in more stuff and can be conveniently transported from car boot to the closet and vice versa, saving you the constant time and hassle of packing and unpacking. Carry rainproof jackets which double up as wind protectors.

Medicines: Make sure to carry enough supply of all medication and even your doctor’s prescription as some countries do not issue the medicines without the valid prescription.

3. Travelling with family

Food & Water: Keep yourself hydrated with tons of water (not sugary colas) especially if you’re driving during hot climates. Bags of munchies or light snacks (preferably healthy ones) are a good way to break the monotony of the journey.

Entertainment: If you’re travelling with family, especially kids, keep a bunch of entertainment options handy for them, for the sake of your own sanity. Make sure all tabs and phones are charged and carry a heav-duty power bank to be safe. You could also pack in some books or use your creativity to devise games. (Also read: Bollywood movies that Inspire Us to Travel)

4. Visas, permits and forex

If you are doing an international road trip from India, you will need to apply for a visa for the country you are driving to. A road trip is cannot be an impulsive decision. It requires months of planning the destinations, routes, visas and permits and finances and forex.

The first and most important thing to do is to create a road trip planner. This will include listing out all the places in that country you want to visit which will also help you determine the best route to take. Next comes the visas and permits. While some countries allow you to do an online visa application, there are some others which require a more detailed procedure.

How Thomas Cook made my life simpler

Being a working woman, it was not possible for me to manage everything. So I turned to the travel experts, Thomas Cook and they turned out to be the best road trip planner I could find. By helping me with the visa application form as well as my forex, they made my travel as smooth as possible in just 4 easy steps.

Visa in 4 steps:

  1. Fill in the details for the visa and they’ll provide a quote instantly.
  2. Pay for your visa online using your credit card /debit card / net banking
  3. Submit your visa documents online or at the closest Thomas Cook branch
  4. Receive real-time updates of your visa status, until it is approved

Don’t worry about the process. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused, they have experts who will even guide you through the entire process.

Buy Forex with a few clicks:

  1. Select the currency you need, along with the specific amount you’ll be carrying for the trip
  2. Enter your details and choose whether you’d like your forex delivered or if you want to pick it up from the nearest branch
  3. You can pay for your forex through multiple options, including credit card / debit card / net banking
  4. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive a confirmation, when we send you your forex receipt

And this can all be done online though in some cases, you may need to visit the consulate with your documents. With just a little planning, and some help from Thomas Cook, you can easily make travel plans and make your travel dreams a reality. (Also Read: Spice up Your Travel with International Road Trip)


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