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Old 9th October 2017, 10:03   #1
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Thumbs up Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Dear all,

Many a times it has occurred to me that apart from the mechanical fitness of the respective automobile, another form of fitness that is required to go places is the one driving the mind and the body. In short, it caters to the need of mental and physical fitness.

Searching Google usually results in not-so-relevant threads, considering the need of the moment and the challenges associated with it.

I remember two very important assignments I had taken up before my bullet ride to Goa from Pune, in November.
  1. Practiced regular morning walks for 2 months at a stretch covering approx 2 kilometers daily.
  2. Curbed my rice eating desire, specially in the afternoon.

From what I understand reading the various travelogues, there are two very crucial aspects, in performing long drives on 4 wheelers (in excess of 1000 kms per day). Also, its one thing to start the journey and its another aspect to continue the journey with the same zeal and enthusiasm.
  1. Vehicle fitness - this topic has been handled in various sections in depth and detail.
  2. Physical / mental fitness and preparedness.

I would appreciate if frequent and accustomed long distance travelers, covering in excess of 1000 kilometers per day, can please shed some light onto the second topic. It would definitely help novices like me in gathering all the skills and readiness, required before further committing to the "drive mode".

Moderators :-

Please feel free to alter the subject line if required. Before creating a new thread, I did some research, but did not find a single thread, where one can relate and refer. Still if I have missed, feel free to club.

Last edited by GTO : 10th October 2017 at 10:18. Reason: Language, formatting
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Old 9th October 2017, 10:26   #2
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Hey Majumdarda, you may want to have a look at these threads:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/owning...ays-ghats.html (ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/owning...road-trip.html (ARTICLE: Preparation for an Indian Road Trip)

Thanks!
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Old 9th October 2017, 10:45   #3
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I have covered 1000+ kms in day on 4 different trips till date. Among these, in two of them, we were 2 drivers sharing the wheel while in the other two, I was driving all alone.
I have also done several trips covering 600-700 kms/day, being the lone driver. I would share the following points.

1. Make sure you gradually increase the range of coverage per day. In the beginning, I would say 300-500 kms/day is a good start. Take more frequent breaks (every 60-70 kms) initially, reach the target and take good rest for the remaining day. You will also get to know if your car is comfortable and whether you are able to sit in the driver's seat for long hours.

2. Do a lot of research regarding the road condition for your trip route. Road conditions determine the time taken to cover the distance and fatigue levels for the trip. For example, in my recent trip last month, the first 500 kms took me 7.5 hrs while the next 480 kms took me 10+ hrs.

3. Do keep buffer of 2 hrs in long distance trips. It will take care of sudden bad weather conditions, traffic conditions while crossing cities enroute and vehicle breakdown, if any.

4. Be flexible regarding the target coverage for day. If you are tired after 700 kms, please halt and take rest rather than trying to achieve the target of say, 1000 kms. Most important.

5. While traveling with your family, you have to plans the breaks properly and also be more conscious about the safety on the route (personal opinion).

6. Do take note of petrol pumps enroute. I have covered areas where you don't get a 'decent' pump for a good 100-150 kms. Do carry sufficient water and some ready food (biscuits, fruits) for use enroute.

7. Don't be overwhelmed by the distance. Start the trip and keep going as per your comfort levels. Don't focus too much on the milestones and enjoy the roads. You will be tension-free and would reach the destination happily.

8. It is not possible to clock 1000+ kms for multiple days, even on the best of roads. So if it is a multiple day, multiple thousand km trip, please set realistic target of 500-600 kms per day. Please refer Point 4.

Last edited by Aditya : 10th October 2017 at 07:17. Reason: Posts merged as per request
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Old 9th October 2017, 11:10   #4
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Hi!

You have raised a very relevant topic that I always wanted to discuss upon. Thanks!

I had realised the importance of mental and physical preparedness during our motorcycle trip to Sikkim from Ranchi which covered all types of terrains, high altitudes, greatly varying temperatures and overall conditions. In fact, I would also like to state that mental preparedness is just as important as physical preparedness; probably even more.

What I'm going to write below is not a bible of how to prepare yourself physically or mentally for a long trip. I'm certain that you shall get better advice by our other forum members on the same. Below is just what I did:

Coming to physical preparedness first:
About a month before the trip, I gave up all fried/ oily stuff and most junk food. Walking a few kms everyday helped greatly. I did not hit any gym nor got myself into any rigorous work out - just the basic stuff like eating healthy, drinking lots of water and keep stretching the body even while sitting at office chair! Trust me - stretching your body is one of the best things to do to keep it fit. That was it, nothing much else.

Just one more thing - I don't take tea, coffee and nicotine in any form. That helped too.

Now coming to mental preparedness:
This trip of ours was not planned in a day or two. We were planning it for more than a year. We would sit and read travelogues, watch the pictures, look at the maps for hours and keep imagining ourselves in those situations. This not only let us know what to expect during the trip but also helped a great deal to condition our mind. I would keep telling my mind that this is not a 300-400 km trip that I have done before many times. This is something that will put my endurance to test. Things like these prepared my mind to be put against it.

Now I got to notice the effect when our trip was on. I started believing those who say - it's all in the mind! The thing that I noticed was that you get tired ONLY when you expect yourself to!! I can explain it better - for eg. we had travelled to Mandarmani (450 kms one side) then to Bishnupur (280 kms one side) and many other places in the range of 200-400 kms. I used to get tired when I already knew the distance I had to cover. For eg. in a 400 km trip, I would feel tired when I was near hitting the 400 km mark. In a 250 km trip, I would get tired in 250 kms!

Our Sikkim trip was almost 2000 kms, and this time, I was tired only after 2000 kms!! It was the same me, just with that level of mental preparedness. I believe I am able to put across my point. Reconditioning the mind was one of the most important factors that made me able to complete this trip; and with fun.

Trust that was of some help to you.

Regards,
Saket.
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Old 9th October 2017, 12:11   #5
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkulkarni.2106 View Post
...
Thank you sir. I in-fact have those threads as bookmarks already and they are definitely very informative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashis89 View Post
...
gradually increase the range of coverage per day...lot of research regarding the road condition ...keep buffer...flexible regarding the target coverage...plan the breaks properly and also be more conscious about the safety on the route...note of petrol pumps... sufficient water and some ready food ...set realistic target
Thank you very much sir. These are definitely helpful for making a informed wise decision. As I might travel with my kid (3yrs) and wife too, road safety is paramount.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
...physical preparedness first...

About a month before the trip, I gave up all fried/ oily stuff and most junk food. Walking a few kms everyday helped greatly. I did not hit any gym nor got myself into any rigorous work out - just the basic stuff like eating healthy, drinking lots of water and keep stretching the body even while sitting at office chair! Trust me - stretching your body is one of the best things to do to keep it fit. That was it, nothing much else.

...to mental preparedness...
I would keep telling my mind that this is not a 300-400 km trip that I have done before many times. This is something that will put my endurance to test. Things like these prepared my mind to be put against it.

Now I got to notice the effect when our trip was on. I started believing those who say - it's all in the mind! The thing that I noticed was that you get tired ONLY when you expect yourself to!! I can explain it better - for eg. we had travelled to Mandarmani (450 kms one side) then to Bishnupur (280 kms one side) and many other places in the range of 200-400 kms. I used to get tired when I already knew the distance I had to cover. For eg. in a 400 km trip, I would feel tired when I was near hitting the 400 km mark. In a 250 km trip, I would get tired in 250 kms!

Our Sikkim trip was almost 2000 kms, and this time, I was tired only after 2000 kms!! It was the same me, just with that level of mental preparedness. I believe I am able to put across my point. Reconditioning the mind was one of the most important factors that made me able to complete this trip; and with fun.

Trust that was of some help to you.

Regards,
Saket.
Thank you very very much sir. The way you have described the recipe for mental preparedness is what I was looking for I think. Yes, I need to train my mind for the distance. And yes, I also observed during my 300+ km trips, that the mind starts to retire during the fag end. I have myself observed that during three past instances (Goa, Bhandardara, Kaas). Was just not able to co-relate these.

There was a time I was hell bent on travelling from Pune to WB on my bullet, had a more stable physical fitness but was not sure (or rather shaky) about the distance. Ultimately, I had to cancel that trip. I believe to have received another opportunity for the coming January and therefore excited to have it try one last time. If successful, it shall be the norm for me at least, else, probably one of those good to forget dreams.

Thank you all; please let the suggestions pour in.
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Old 9th October 2017, 13:20   #6
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Majumdarda View Post

Many a times it has occurred to me that apart from the mechanical fitness of the respective automobile, another form of fitness that is required to go places, is the one driving the mind and the body. In short, it caters to the need of the mental and physical fitness.
A good topic for discussion.

I had not fully comprehended the need of the above discussion till I did my first long road trip. A solo trip from Mumbai to Thrissur,Kerala some 1250 odd kms in a 2000 Maruti 800 in 27 hours last year. The only other long trip I've done is driving till Goa with more than sufficient food and other stops.

My preparation included only maps ,time management and health of the car which i thought was the most crucial elements. I completely forgot about 'me', the driver.
Driving an 800 that long of a distance really tests your patience ,stamina , concentration levels and many more aspects of mental as well as physical health.

My mistakes were as follows :-
1. Having only banana and banana chips for food so that i don't have to stop at all (for food stops) or get out of the car except for loo stops.
2. Having lot of packaged fruit juices , which i thought would aid me in the mission but should've had plain and simple packaged water.
3. Having absolutely no proper rest the day before, as I had cramped my week schedule into few days due to the journey.
4. A failure on my part in calculating how much Bangalore traffic would have a toll on me.
5. Also failure in calculating how much extra tiring it would be listening to loud music for a period of more than 3 hours. (That is why bollywood and other sound engineers take frequent breaks while sound editing and stick with in certain decibel levels to work longer)


By the end of the journey, my car was running brilliantly thanks to the Japanese engineering and parts. But I on the other hand was dead tired at 900 kms. By the time i reached home I was so tired that even when i was sleepy and could barely walk I just couldn't close my eyes. Only homemade food and a 14 hour sleep brought me back from being a Zombie.
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Old 9th October 2017, 13:59   #7
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Great topic and one that is very close to my heart. If there is one thing in life that I am proud of, it would be my ability of super long distance driving. I have wanted to write a thread on this topic, but then realised that there is no secret recipe for me, there has been no short cut. It has been a gradual and hard work of slowly increasing the distances over time. Initially I had to take breaks multiple times even for a 200 km trip. So if a person tells me that he wants to embark on a 1000 plus drive in a day and asks for tips, I will always request to take it slowly, one step at a time. I understand that people nowadays do not have that level of patience, they want to know the tips and tricks and unfortunately I know of none.
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Old 9th October 2017, 14:35   #8
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

As a newbie road-tripper , I'd like to add some points that I have experienced.

1. Vehicle matters a lot - In our older Punto, we could feel tired after 500-600 km. However in the Abarth, 1000+ km in a day are doable.

2. Indian road condition are still improving and its best to calculate timings, etc. considering the average speed as 60 km/h.

3. Discipline - Its important to stick to your plans. Incase of a delay, you must have provision to cover it up or start a bit early next day and drive till a bit late. Knowing your limits is absolutely important. I've never felt sleepy driving long distances, but once while returning from Pune at 11 pm, the moment I knew I was drowsy, I pulled into the food court and slept for a good 4 hrs before continuing.

4. Physical fitness - Its better to have above average fitness incase of any situations that may arise - puncture, fuel exhausting etc.

5. Keep driving regularly. Incase of a longer than before trip, keep driving every alternate weekend to some place - it could be even a short 100-150km trip for breakfast, but you'll get used to being seated for long periods.

Night driving - Personally, I love driving at nights. Have done frequent Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Kolhapur night drives. Its essential to have someone experienced at it for the first time. That person will share lots of tips with you. I learnt driving observing my dad and uncle.
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Old 9th October 2017, 14:36   #9
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

I just came back yesterday from a 600 km trip and I did it in one shot. I agree to all and specially BP that the tenacity increases time and more trips. However I would like to add that which car also contributes to the ability. Others may not agree but this is through experience.

A 1.5L is easier than a 1.2L which in turn is easier than a .8L on the same route. The ability of the car to go back to cruising speeds after you have slowed down for something, which is more than frequent, affects the stress levels. I am not talking about going faster but same average moving speeds. For example, me doing a 1000 km in the city is easier than the Ritz. All cars can go upto 130 nowadays. But maintaing an average moving speed of 80 in a more powerful car is less stressful.

Last edited by Altocumulus : 9th October 2017 at 14:41.
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Old 9th October 2017, 15:36   #10
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

I have done several trips covering more than a thousand km per day. Some of these include Ahmedabad-Chandigarh and back and Goa-Ahmedabad. Other trips were less than a thousand km, but took longer, such as the Ahmedabad-Pachmadi, Ahmedabad-Lonar and back.

It is wise to start the long trips as early as you can; my preference is 0500 hours and in extreme cases 0400. Too early, you will be facing tired truck drivers, and there is a dangerous band between 0300 and 0500 hours where, I believe the accident rate is higher. The transition from night to dawn also has a psychological effect on judgement and visibility.

Others have mentioned the importance of studying the route as thoroughly as you can and setting realistic drive schedules. My worst incidence of a failed drive involved a very ambitious Ahmedabad-Ambala drive in 2010. I had expected my son to take over the drive after some time, but the World Cup football match was in full swing and he stayed up late. The noise of the match disturbed my sleep and the drive started off with less than optimum conditions. Also made the mistake of taking Udaipur-Ajmer highway instead of the better known Chittaurgarh highway, and this cost us three hours. The bypass of Delhi via Rohtak was not good in those days, and by midnight we managed to reach Panipat. Soon after the car was rear ended severely and that put a stop to our Leh drive.

In later drives with the same car, we have successfully reached Chandigarh in 18 hours nonstop driving. The lessons learnt from the failed drive were fully utilised.

I strongly believe in HVK's advice in not stopping for food during long drives. We have done well on the stock of biscuits, Gujarati theplas, farsan etc. and the stops were only for fuelling and two tea breaks.

Most important, do not attempt two very long drives day after day. The advantage you got by a long drive should be used to reduce drive distance the next day.

I do not like to drive at night, as I feel sleepy and the headlights bother me. My best driving time is between 0600 to 0800 hours.
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Old 9th October 2017, 15:39   #11
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Default re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

I have driven numerous near 700 kms trips (Pune- Indore) in one day all alone. I am the only guy in my home who drives so I cannot bank on any other person to drive. I have also done Pune- Bangalore- Ooty (800+) and Pune- Udaipur (950+). I have also taken my motorbike to Ladakh once.

My 2 cents:

Plan your trip well.

a) Knowing the road conditions can save you important time, fuel and can enhance your car's life. For eg If you are going from Pune- Udaipur the bridge over the Narmada river (Bharuch-Ankaleshwar) was always jammed and those traffic jams were seriously long. For a truck it could mean 7 hours waiting in the queue. I have driven wrong side (not recommended) of the road and still had to wait nearly 3 hours to cross the Narmada bridge.

Reason- I did not heed to the team-bhp advice to take the route through the city bridge (Golden bridge) which would have taken me only 20 mins to cross. I got tempted by the empty highway stretch to disregard the precious information mentioned by fellow team-bhpian's

b) I did not do my research well and while going from Pune to Indore I took the by-pass road for Ahmednagar. Outcome- I scraped my car nearly 4-5 times and was stuck up behind trucks carrying wind turbine blades to nearly 1.5 hours.

c) While we went for Bangalore- Mysore- Ooty trip. We planned the trip well but made a mistake of booking the hotel in the heart of Bangalore city. Every time we had to cross Bangalore city to reach hotel, it used to take nearly 2 hours! Plan your place to stay at the outskirts of the city so that you need not have to spend precious time crossing city traffic.

d) Do not plan continuous long drives on successive days. You cannot simply drive 1000 kms/ day straight for 3 days! For eg. I travelled from Pune to Bangalore. Next day got up lazily and used public transport to visit places in Bangalore. I went to Ooty but used local transport to visit sight seeing places and also had opportunity to take the toy train to go beyond.

If you need to drive for long distances plan your daily coverage of kms according to the traffic, terrain and your capacity. For eg on highways you can plan to cover 900-1000 kms on the initial day. In hills even 400 kms would be a pain, and in Himalayas even 200 kms would be a feat!

e) Time for start of travel. Always plan to get up early and start travel as early possible in the day. You get less traffic, you can avoid city traffic if you start early. You are more focused early morning so you can take less breaks and cover bigger chunk of kms in the earlier part of the day. Your vehicle is more fuel efficient due to the cold mornings.
Ex: I started Pune- Udaipur at 6:45 in the morning and got stuck up in Mumbai traffic and the the 3 hours jam at Narmada river bridge. It took me 19 hours with family to reach Udaipur.
While coming back I could complete the same journey in 17 hours with ample breaks included bcoz I crossed Mumbai in night. Start early, plan to cross cities during odd hours.

Starting at 3:30 am in the morning and stopping at a planned hotel/dhaba for morning routine is preferred rather than starting late.

f) Travelling alone Vs With family makes a lot of difference. With family you require lot of breaks and also the breaks are longer. With kids all the more difficult.

g) Plan to achieve your destination targets on time but don't be over fussy about it. Leave some room for contingency and last moment plan changes. Do a in-between time-check so that you can re consider your plan for the day if needed.

h) Do not over stretch yourself. Its always better to take a half hour nap in between when you are tired. A short nap will leave you fresh enough to again continue your journey with renewed vigor. If you feel sleepy pull over, its always better to curtail the journey and stop early than meeting with an accident.

i) Know your limits. Increase your driving stamina with taking bigger challenges than the previous one but the bump up should not be too huge.
For me I realized 1000 kms journey was just too much. I am comfortable with 700-800 kms trip max. Anything beyond that is just too much stretch.

j) Drive safely when you are very near to reach your destination. Most accidents happen when you are very close to your destination, you are tired and you are in haste to call it off for the day.

k) Keep your luggage ready and if possible load it in the car previous day so that we do not spend a lot of time packing in the morning. Also pack your luggage properly so that you do not land up keeping important in-car use items in your dicky.

l) Physical preparation: Learn to sleep early. For those people like me who sleep late in night and get up late in the morning, this can be a challenge and it might leave you with very less sleep to start the journey early enough in the day. Have a proper sleep. Do not have a heavy meal on the prior day or something which can upset your stomach. A short early morning walk before you get on the wheel will help you feel fresh and energetic.

m) Never drive when you just had an altercation with your spouse . I mean make sure you are in a good mood and don't get upset about somethings which have gone out of control or are not under your control. Over speeding and aggressive driving can land you in trouble.

I hope this helps. For me mental preparation is all about planning well and leaving a margin for unplanned things. Also its always good to make on the go changes as the journey unfolds.
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Old 10th October 2017, 10:31   #12
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Default Re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Great thread!

- Physical & mental fitness are very important, not only for a long drive, but even in our daily lives. I workout almost every day and usually eat healthy food (with a couple of cheat meals a week). BlackPearl does a lot of long-distance drives and going by his pics, he comes across as a very physically fit guy.

- Sleep & rest before & during the drive - related thread (Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads).

- Know your limits and accept them. Up to 600 - 700 km, I'm enjoying the drive. After that, I don't and prefer to call it a day. I would never do Bombay-Bangalore in a single day.

- Agreed with BHPians that the car really matters. If you have two or more cars, pick the more comfortable one.

- Please do read my thread, has a ton of useful tips - link (ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats).

Quote:
Originally Posted by SajiNSalin View Post
I strongly believe in HVK's advice in not stopping for food during long drives.
I strongly disagree with that. The journey should be as enjoyable as the destination. Food is something all of us love, and Indian highways provide so many opportunities for trying out new & tasty food. When I'm on the road, I actually look forward to some of my favourite places enroute. As an example, no trip to Lonavla / Pune is complete without lunch / dinner at Sunny's Dhaba. During my recent Mumbai-Goa drive, the places we stopped for meals were a highlight (they were picked before we even started the car in the morning)!
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Old 10th October 2017, 10:51   #13
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Default Re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

GTO, I fully agree with you to have a leisurely drive when time permits. The very long distance drives don't allow for the luxury of stopping for food. I am located in Trivandrum and a drive to Leh involves about a week's drive, and I would like to reach Leh as fast as possible, which calls for some spirited hard driving with limited stops. Of course, it depends on the person and not recommended for everyone. I am ok with it when the occasion demands it, but certainly don't want all drives to be so stressful.

By the way, I appreciate your reviews immensely. They are the best available.
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Old 10th October 2017, 11:03   #14
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Default Re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Great thread!

I have managed a few marathon trips on my old bike, like Bangalore to Munnar (540Kms), Hyderabad, Pondicherry etc.

I managed the trips above easily, and the primary reason was "Co Riders".

Riding in a small, tight group is very enjoyable, re-assuring and safe at the same time.

Coming to cars, having non-sleepy and well-mannered passengers/friends is a bonus for every long trip.

In summary, the mental preparation for me before a trip, is to simply convince my close friends and wife to stay positive and enjoy the trip.

Last edited by abhishek46 : 10th October 2017 at 11:31.
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Old 10th October 2017, 11:27   #15
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Default Re: Physical & Mental preparation for a long distance drive

Nice topic to discuss.

I have done many Marathon drives that too solo. Some of them being,

Mumbai - Hyderabad - Mumbai : Solo 2005 in Tata Sierra
Melbourne - Brisbane - Melbourne : Group 2007 with 3 drivers in Subaru Forrester
Banglore - Mumbai - Bangalore:Two occupants 2010 with me being the only driver in Mercedes W123 300D
Mumbai - Gokarna - Maravanthe - Mumbai : Solo 2015 in Honda Jazz
Mumbai - Ranthambore - Mumbai: Solo 2016 in Isuzu Vcross
Mumbai - Nagpur - Mumbai : Solo 2016 in Isuzu Vcross


There are several others in between and after but these I remember as my favorites.

I always prefer to start early around 4 Am. This is the time I am fresh, roads are empty and you can beat the local traffic and hit the highway quicker. Its important to sleep earlier if you want to start early.

I usually stop every 2 hours either for a snack (tea) or fuel break. Even if I have half tank of fuel, I would fuel up at a good pump if it coincides with my 2 hour break.

Its very important to stay hydrated and equally important not to drive with a full bladder. I have noticed dehydration or full bladder makes me irritated.

Don't look at long toll booth queues as a hurdle (there will be many on long drives), use the opportunity to stretch, have some water and relax your mind.

If some one wants to race with you on the highway slow down and let them pass. The world is round he/she will be right behind you after some time . Driving at your own pace for 1 hour is less tiring than unnecessarily racing someone for 5 minutes.

On hot days if you have a good working AC, afternoons are best time to drive since most of the bikers and truckers stay off the roads to beat the heat. Make sure the tire pressures are right.

Know your directions and route in advance. This will help you save a lot of time and effort on the road.

Dont keep a track of Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) on GPS, it puts additional undue pressure to get there on that time.

A long drive is like a Marathon don't tire your self sprinting but maintain a comfortable pace. Always remind yourself you have a long road ahead.

If you are drowsy a coffee or red bull won't help but a 15 minute power nap will help you. Don't keep chewing gum all the time, you won't realize it during the drive but at the end of the drive your jaws will hurt.

For such long drives in India I would always prefer an SUV over a sedan.

This is what I could think of. There is something about marathon drives that gives me a high, I have a solo trip to Tadoba (Jungle calling) on 5th November in the Vcross. I hope I can put the tips discussed here to good use.

Last edited by tazmaan : 10th October 2017 at 11:29.
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