Browsing Tag

travel

0 In Recommendations

Why you should Drive on your next International Trip

Like most people, travel for me was about sightseeing, food and completing a checklist of ‘must do activities’. Most of my trips within or outside India have had the similar structure when I planned them. It was not until one of my trips to the US, that I realized that a trip can include so many more things which most people don’t really think about. This was the first time I decided to rent a car outside of India and drive to my final destination!

This was funnily not something I really planned on doing. I was partially forced into taking this decision because I did not have a flight from Bangalore to my final destination. This meant I had 2 choices:

  1. Take a 22 hour flight to Washington and then wait 6 hours for a connecting flight and reach my destination after a short 30+ hours!
  1. Take a 22 hour flight to New York, rent a car and drive 2 hours to my destination.

The traumatizing thought of spending more than 30 hours traveling, got me to take Option 2 seriously and I decided to do it. I have now rented a car 3 or 4 times on my travels over the last couple of years. Here is why I love renting a car wherever possible:

  1. Adventure – Driving in another country is definitely a ‘not to be missed’ travel experience. If you are from India, driving on the other side of the road (in most cases) and being surrounded by drivers who stop and wait for you at junctions is another experience in itself! Whether it be driving through the Hilly Tuscan Countryside, the Chilly Scottish Highlands or the super fast German Autobahn, driving overseas is certainly a high adrenaline experience.
  1. Cheaper than you think – Contrary to what most people believe, renting a car is actually not that expensive. When traveling as a group of 3 to 4 people renting a car can actually work out CHEAPER than public transport. And you can take your picks from a simple hatch to a swanky 2 door sports car. We chose a Jeep Renegade for our Tuscan trip and boy was that an awesome drive!

 

jeep

 

  1. Less Touristy – Renting a car lets your explore destinations that public transport may not give you access to. For example, when Andrea and I were in Italy towards the middle of 2016, we were able to drive around and explore some of the quaint villages in the Tuscan region. Travel to places which don’t have access to convenient public transport and you get the chance to really experience the culture of the town or village.
  1. Flexibility – Having your own car on a trip gives you a huge amount of flexibility. When traveling to a place for the first time you never know what you will love and what you may not enjoy as much. Driving lets you increase the time spent at the places you love because you are no longer on a fixed schedule which has been decided by the trains or buses you have booked. Whether it was Italy, Scotland or the US, we are able to walk around the little towns we visited well after the peak tourists visiting hours. This is an amazing way to experience life as a local.

Here’s how you can prepare for you next International Road Trip:

  1. Do you need an International Driving Permit? – Whether you need an International Driving Permit or not depends on the country or region you travel to. This link should help you figure that out. For my trips to Europe, I was required to carry my International Driving Permit and was asked this before my car was given to me. Typically the United States of America doesn’t require you to have an International Driving Permit to rent a car. All you need is a Credit Card and Valid Driving License in English.
  1. Reserve your Car in advance – Make sure you make a reservation through Avis, Enterprise or Hertz well in advance. This will guarantee you get a car of your choice. You could also end up with some really cool upgrades or discounts. Accumulate points that can be redeemed for discounts and free rentals by creating an account and using the same rental company for all your rentals.
  1. Insurance – Do not ignore Insurance Coverage and Damage Waiver when renting a car abroad. Make sure you check the standard insurance and damage waiver which is included as a part of your rental package. If you didn’t know this already – read the fine print! There are plenty of additional insurance options that you can pay for, but make sure you understand them first. Remember, their goal is to sell you everything they have by instilling fear. So, spend some time on this one to ensure you get only what you really need!

Hope you have an awesome road trip! Do subscribe to our newsletter to receive more such insights 🙂

Peace & Love,

Prashanth

0 In Destinations

Rajasthan – India’s Incredible Wonderland

Amer Fort

When we were asked, ‘what’s the first destination you would like to explore in India’, our instant response was Rajasthan! Nowhere inspires wanderlust quite like Rajasthan. A state that bursts with colour, royal architecture, mouth watering food, history & grandeur. Whether it was escaping reality in the jungles of Ranthambore, drinking in the views of ‘the blue city’ of Jodhpur as we zip-lined across Mehrangarh Fort, gazing at futuristic time machines at the Jantar Mantar (for that era, no doubt) or stuffing our faces with the legendary kachoris at Rawat Mishtan Bhandar, visiting Rajasthan surely sparked a lifelong love affair.

The Pink City – Jaipur

Rajputs associate the colour pink with hospitality. The city was daubed with pink by Maharaja Man Sigh II in preparation for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876. As we strolled through the vedic streets and vibrant bazaars of Jaipur, we realised how welcoming the city is to its regular stream of visitors. Perhaps amongst the most famous of Jaipur’s architectural wonders, the Sheesh Mahal, a pavilion in the Amber fort (known for its intricate mirror work) had us fascinated and awe-struck.

Sheesh Mahal at Amber Fort

 

Craving for cultural immersion? Look no further than Jaipur, as it offers enduring sights and experiences like roadside ‘tapris’ selling masala chai alongside ghee-dripping ghewar. Beautiful hand painted frescoes, on city walls old and new, narrating stories from the 8th to 18th century. Truly a city that’s devoted to celebrating its arts and aesthetics, from block printed textiles and miniature paintings to finely-crafted jewellery and blue pottery. Not forgetting the sounds of street performers playing traditional Marwari folk music. You can savour it all!!!

Choki Dhani

Palmist at Choki Dhani

 

The Blue City – Jodhpur

Honestly, we didn’t have any high expectations from Jodhpur. We thought it would be far less opulent than Jaipur with not much to show case. The picturesque Mehrangarh Fort and world famous indigo-dyed houses were all that we had heard about. But we were taken by surprise! The crooked and narrow lanes of the old city transport you into a world of kitschy charm. Local culinary temptations in the form of makhaniya lassi, mawa seets and doodh phirni certainly add to the experience. While interacting with locals, we were told that the colour blue marked the distinction of the city’s Shaivite Brahmins, which was then adopted by many.

Blue houses

Blue houses

 

Despite lying on the edge of the Thar desert, the city can be found with sprawling palatial gardens (like the ones seen at Umaid Bhavan Palace), stepwells and bustling bazaars that make you believe that, with faith, one can surely thrive in the desert.

Puppets Dolls

Puppet Dolls at Mehrangarh Fort

 

The Land of Tigers – Ranthambore

There are few places on earth that combine a profusion of wildlife with valuable historical heritage. The Ranthambhore National Park is one such place. Situated between two iconic hill ranges, the Aravallis and the Vindhyas, the park takes its name from the formidable fortress of Ranthambhore. Sitting at the pinnacle of a hill, surrounded by forest. A place where fierce battles were once fought with swords. A new breed of warriors (tigers), defends this majestic landscape now. It is one of the finest places in the world to encounter wild tigers that roam the dry deciduous forest.

Ranthambore

A ruin at Ranthambore

 

A variety of wildlife thrives across the national park’s spectacular landscapes and diverse ecosystem, including the leopard, bear and a large number of prey species. Tourists flock to the area for the abundant bird life that resides within, or migrates to Ranthambhore across the many seasons.

crocodile

Peek-a-boo!

Have exciting stories about your trip to Rajasthan? Share it with us in the comments section below 🙂