“Now, on this road trip, my mind seemed to uncrinkle, to breathe, to present to itself a cure for a disease it had not, until now, known it had.”
― Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures
There is something about road trips that gets my adrenaline flowing. The unbridled freedom of being on the road, logging miles and meandering through scenic routes! The joy of experiencing the country at its most rugged & unadorned self is truly unparalleled.
My fondest childhood memories are of accompanying my parents, younger brother and dog too; on road trips. Dad was in the defence services and that necessitated a move every few years. Dad being a road travel buff himself ensured that we always shifted bases via road trips. We would load ourselves & whatever stuff we could carry into our trusty old car and off we would embark on an adventure. I guess this is how I have seen the length & breadth of India and in the process understood its depth of culture.
I was fortunate enough in life to find a partner who joins me in my enjoyment of road travels. Every few months sees us embarking on yet another new adventure, be it for a day, a week or fortnight.
Having travelled by road quite so often has also made us light packers. However, from a woman’s perspective, there are a few things that you absolutely must pack in our handbag/purse if you are going on a road trip. Here’s my take on the essentials.
- Cash /credit cards– anyone who has travelled via roads in India will bear testimony to the fact that the highways have indeed improved. However, this facility comes with the bane of having to pay for highway tolls as we fly through cities. Hence, one of the most important things to have in your handbag is enough cash to cover these expenses. Post de-monitization it is possible to pay via credit/debit cards or digital money apps but this facility is not always available. Hence, the best option is to carry cash to cover these expenses.
- Lip balm – a must have in your handbag. Be it the dry air from an open window or the time spent sitting in the car AC, the lips tend to dry the most. Hence, lubricate them frequently to avoid chapping.
- Sunscreen – a must have if your travel plans include a trip with the hot sun beating down your vehicle roof. It is also a must have if you intend to make frequent stops & step down from the vehicle. The UVA rays are mostly reflected off your windscreen but a few do penetrate through. The side windows of the vehicle are also not UVA proof and prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause skin darkening, sunburn or in some rare cases can lead to skin cancer (source – http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/are-you-at-risk/sun-hazards-in-your-car). Avoid this by lathering on sunscreen.
- Water – apart from carrying enough water in the vehicle, make sure to carry a bottle in your handbag too and keep that within easy access. Frequently sip water to avoid dehydration.
- Dry snacks– Dried fruits and snacks in your handbag are another must have to alleviate hunger pangs. You can carry a dry fruit mix, peanuts, chocolate, granola/nature bars or any good brand of travel mix and munch on that as you drive. Make sure that the food is non-greasy & cut small so that you can snack on it easily without fear of spillage or grease stains. Breath mints, fruit lozenges and chewing gum are also great for keeping bad stale travel breath at bay.
- Cell phone and car charger – make sure to fully charge your cell phone before you pack it in your handbag. The cell phone today backs up as the camera, music player and also GPS so make sure that you carry the car phone charger/USB cord in your bag for quick charging fixes.
- Moisturiser – a small bottle/tube of this is a must have as constant exposure to car AC or dry air can leave your hands & face dry.
- Sunglasses – a must have in your handbag. Make sure to wear them to avoid the direct & blinding glare from the sun. The UV rays beating down upon the vehicle can cause harm to your eyes. Make sure to pick up a pair that wraps around your eyes and completely covers them. This will ensure maximum UV rays blockage.
- Swiss army knife – this is another must have. It’s a multi-purpose tool and can be really handy in your handbag. Make sure to purchase & carry one which has the basic tools like knife, screwdriver, scissors, nail clipper, cork opener, pliers etc They There are many brands available in the market (and cost varies greatly!) so make sure to pick one that covers all your needs, even if it is slightly more expensive. Consider it a onetime investment!
- Emergency medicines – Cars today come with an emergency medical kit in the glove box. Make sure to check that and restock anything as per your family’s needs. Another must have is a small medical kit in your handbag with emergency medicines for motion sickness, headache/migraine, fever, pain etc. If you are travelling with kids then do carry medicines as per their needs.
- Pen – keep one handy in your handbag with a small notepad. You never know when you may need to sign for a receipt or jot down some info.
- Personal articles – keep personal articles handy like a small comb, deodorant, paper soap, wet & dry wipes, a reusable cloth napkin etc
- Small flashlight – This is advisable in case you intend to commence your journey before sun up or anticipate reaching your destination late, after sun down. In any case, it’s a handy tool to have in the purse.
- Reusable plastic bag – keep this handy in case someone in the car suffers from motion sickness and feels the need to barf. It is also good for clearing up general spillage and clutter.
- Spare car keys – keep the spare set ready in your car for emergencies.