We have been traveling on our road trip with our SUV, since last Monday, from Goa to Himachal Pradesh, and crossed on our way 5 states in India and drove a total of 2000 kilometers!
It's summer in India and we had at some point 47 Celsius while we traveled through the hottest regions in India.
But it was all worth it because now I am sitting in Old Manali with comfortable 20 Celsius, while I am over looking the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas.
The trip from Goa to Himachal by car might have been long but I had planned everything ahead to make it a comfortable trip.
The trick is organization, foresight and knowledge and you can do such a roadtrip as well if you want!
We had a ball of a time and enjoyed every bit of our travel, although it was scorching hot.
Of course we will be traveling further in the next weeks, deeper into the mountains, which I will explain in the next days when I get more time to write.
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Travel Route planning Guide and Checklist for your roadtrip from Goa to Himachal
First of all before you start your adventure travel roadtrip form Goa to Himachal, through the Indian subcontinent, make sure to go through the checklist below. Essentials to get...
- a reliable travel partner, whom you trust and with whom you can share the road trip experience. Traveling alone by car over 2000 km in India, especially as a non Indian, is not recommended and it's anyway more fun to share the road trip with somebody else. I am doing the road trip right now with my husband and 4 eyes and ears can reach further then just a pair.
- A good car with valid papers and new quality tires. We are travelling with an SUV which is way more comfortable then for example a Suzuki Swift. We had done our South India roadtrip with the latter and it was at times uncomfortable when traveling for more then 3 hours and on rocky roads. Also a SUV is great for mountain passes and curvy roads, yet a smaller car can be beneficial for tight roads in the mountains (such as in new and old Manali). Make sure to take a valid car license with you, car and insurance papers because cops will stop you at some point and ask you for these things. Check the health of your car such as, car oil, wheel alignment and balancing before taking off on your journey and take along tools and gadgets for emergency situation and to check your tire pressure daily.
- Medicines and updated First Aid Kit. It's not a secrete that one can get sick in India. Sometimes it just happens because your body is not used to the food or temperatures outside. Sometimes it's just food poisoning or malicious people trying to scam you in some way. You need to take along medicines to stop vomiting, to stop diarrhea, a pain relief such as Paracetamol, tablets to stop inflammation and medicine to reduce cramps. Also make sure to take along anti fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic creams and a cream to treat insect bites and stings. I always keep with me a few packets of electrolytes, which re-hydrate your body with essential minerals when you have been feeling unwell. Just pour into clean water, mix and drink. Other things to take are bandages, tapes, safety needles, small scissor, thermometer, antiseptic liquid, hydrogen peroxide.
- Documents such as Passport and Visa for foreigners and for Indians Aadhar Card and/or Driver license/voting Card. Make 2 copy of each and keep with you just in case. Hotels in India have a bad habits of copying your documents at check in. Make sure to sign and write the purpose of the documents on the copy, so that it can't be used for something else without your consent.
- lot of Change/smaller Rupee Notes and a Debit Card and a Credit Card (in case of emergencies). Keep the change in the car so that you can get to it quickly when you pass a toll booth. Lot of places accept Debit/ Credit cards these days due to the Demonetization back in November 2016, even smaller road side places. We had some issues in Aurangabad as we were traveling because of the recent Ransom-ware attack, which affected ATMs, so we ended up paying everything via debit card, even at the petrol pumps (HP petrol pumps usually accept debit cards).
- Navigation System device aka GPRS, Maps and useful road/travel apps. It's almost impossible to find your way without a gprs system or without google maps. Not all roads in all states are well described with big boards and many roads have been build recently and lack descriptions. Also most of the boards are written in another script and language, which you might not understand. These days you can even use google maps to a certain extend without the internet, it just won't show you live traffic updates and places near by but the blue position dot and map will show, even if you zoom in. We use a GPRS system, google maps and a hard copy India map at the same time to get the most accurate results. Sometimes in the mountains, both, the Navigation device and Google maps, where giving us wrong road results. At that point we just ask locals (lady police officers are usually most accurate).
- Your unlocked mobile with an Indian Sim Card because you can always need a phone and another internet source. Although 4G/3G/2G don't always work everywhere yet if that doesn't work you can also take along a JIO portable modem with JIO Sim card to have another internet source (just in case the hotel wifi doesn't work out). At some point in our travel we had 3 internet connections and non was working and we were not able to connect manually to a mobile network, that can happen too!
- Water bottles - if you have lot of space keep a few bottles in your car. It will come handy in some desolated places along the way.
- a small pocket knife or a simple cutting knife and a lighter.
Other things which you might want to get along are cigarette lighter adapter for USB pins to charge your phone and other devices along the way, toilette paper rolls, emergency light and candles, a bigger door lock for those simpler places up in the mountains, good footwear, appropriate clothes and bags.
How to get hotels and rooms on your roadtrip from Goa to Himachal?
Before you travel from Goa to Himachal you can make sure to book the first hotel "pit stop" online.
We traveled the first day over 12 hours, whereas my husband is the only driver (the roads are tricky), from Goa to Aurangabad.
We traveled in summer so the hotels are pretty empty along the way and way cheaper then in the main season.
You can get 3 star hotels for 1000 INR (~15 USD/ ~14 EUR) in average.
You can just drive to a town and look for hotels there but I wouldn't recommend that when traveling from Goa to Himachal India, because you tend to get bad offers because they can see that you are tired, so one will always settle with lesser rooms.
If you intend to stay longer then 2 days in one place, you can just take a walk int he place and ask for the room rates, that's how you can get cheap but great rooms in traveler joints such as Old Manali, Old Kassol, McLeodGanj in Dharamshala, Laxmanjula in Rishikesh, Pushkar and Anjuna in Goa.
Otherwise while traveling in other places in India you need to get certain room booking apps such as Oyo and Makemytrip to find the right hotel rooms which suit your needs.
I mostly booked on MMT because they offered me better rates along the way and I was able to check out reviews from other travelers, which I think can be useful and they give something called a MMT assurance or your money back.
You can also use Google maps and tripadvisor for room suggestions.
Most hotels are welcoming, no matter who you are and where you come from.
Sometimes I have seen strange but silent reactions at check-ins but usually there is no problem, especially when you pay quickly.
Only if you are a couple make sure to pick hotels that are ok with that.
Oyo for example is listening lots of hotels which don't allow couples.
I even saw one hotel listed which allowed only Indian guests.
Read through the description and in doubt call the hotel.
Our Hotel in Aurangabad told me while check-in in that they don't allow couples, which infuriated me because nothing of the like was mentioned on their website or on MMT.
In fact some reviews mentioned that they had stayed there with their family.
I understood then only, that they assumed that I and my husband, where unmarried (!!!).
Unfortunately it got so far that I had to show my marriage certificate to get my room, which I had booked and paid online a week before.
These type of situations arise too frequently in India.
When I used to travel alone I was asked stupid questions such as why are you traveling alone as girl and why so far away from home?
Whatever you do as a women there will always be somebody to criticize you!
I mean you get bloody married and they still bother you with embarrassing questions.
Christine has got a great post about this problem-> 3 Questions That Solo Female Travelers Are Tired Of Hearing
Traveling from Goa to Himachal by car, we took the following stops:
- 1st Stop Aurangabad (Maharashtra region) - We stayed there 3 nights as we visited the ancient Buddhist caves of Ajanta and Ellora.
- 2nd stop Dhar (Madya Pradesh region) - Only one night but on the way we stopped at Mandu and visited in the afternoon the ancient Afghani fort and Hoshang Shah's Tomb.
- 3rd stop Ajmer (Rajasthan region) - 1 night
- 4th stop Panipat (Haryana region) - 1 night
- 5th stop Shimla (Himachal Pradesh region) - 1 night
- last stop Old Manali (Himachal Pradesh region) - a few days
We could have stayed longer in Rajasthan too and picked Jaipur or Ajmer as a stop, so to visit historical sites there, but the summer heat temperatures are 45 Celsius in average and in a busy massive city like Jaipur it's just a bad idea.
If you travel during winter time in India, then you might want to consider doing these cultural stops.
For your Goa to Himachal road trip, try to pick the Rajasthan highway instead of the Madya Pradesh Highway from Indore to Agra (AH 47/43), as you will take 2 hours longer to travel by car.
Use the AH 47/43 only if you want to make a stop in Agra to visit the Taj Mahal.
For Food along your road trip from Goa to Himachal stop in places which look neat from outside and where you can see cars parked.
Don't stop in dhabas (food place) for truckers, these places are not meant for car drivers and safety is not guaranteed.
You can stop in government restaurants/hotels, those are common on the highways and it's usually mentioned on the sign boards.
Petrol Pumps are plenty along the way.
There is Bharat Petrolium, Indian Oil, Reliance and HP Petrol Pumps.
The rate for Petrol and Diesel are different from state to state and are somewhere between 55 RS and 75 RS per Liter.
Also check and refill your air in your tire.
We had a nail in one of our tubeless tires, which these people removed and fixed quickly.
To go to the toilet on your roadtrip from Goa to Himachal, stop at petrol pumps and ask for the bathrooms.
Bathrooms in Petrol pumps are free, normally there is no problem in this regard.
The more north you drive the better the bathrooms get.
ROAD TRIP SUGGESTIONS -> KARAKORAM HIGHWAY – A JOURNEY FROM PAKISTAN TO CHINA
The Police road block situation in North India (no issues in Central India)
Be AWARE of COPS in HARYANA and especially PUNJAB/CHANDIGARH area!
Don't over speed in Haryana!
The cops are everywhere on the highway and they will stop you and ask for 1400 INR (although that's not the legal rate!) or they will threaten you by cutting of your license (they are not allowed to do that!) and then they will ask for 500 INR instead without giving a legal receipt!
THE COPS HAVE TO GIVE YOU A LEGAL RECEIPT, IT IS YOUR RIGHT!
The legal rate for over-speeding should be 400 INR in Haryana.
After a few kilometers another road bloack and another cop will stop you and charge you the same again for no good reason and that's when you show your receipt.
The receipt gives you a clearance and they let you go.
Punjab/Chandigarh area is notorious for the police with turbans and their harassment.
NEVER EVER PAY HAFTA!
Never pay a lesser rate which the corrupt cops will take into their pockets because then you won't get your legal receipt and they will stop you again another 6 times and harass you.
PAY THE LEGAL RATE FOR WHATEVER RIDICULOUS REASON THEY STOP YOU! (More about this in a separate post + video soon)
We will be traveling further in the coming days, deeper into the Himalayas.
At some point I won't get any phone and internet networks anymore so I will be trying to post asap whenever I get a connection again, so you don't miss out on anything.
You can follow my roadtrip travels live with Instagram stories!
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