Reasons why my road trips have reduced!

Years ago, I used to go on lots of road trips- rent a car, get few friends along and set out. But in past few years number of road trips have come down significantly. In 2018 I had only 2 road trips in car (Kochi n Coimbatore) and 3 bike trips- Tiruvannamalai, Gudibande and Pondichery, compared to 7 international trips.

Yesterday while I was chatting with Dhruv this topic came up- reduced number of road trips in recent times. As I gave a thought about it, I thought I will make a post out of it, given that there have been lots of reasons contributing to this and listing them might help others.

Major reasons contributing to reduced number of road trips in recent times:
1. Increased self-drive rental rates
In 2010, I could rent a small car like Figo on a weekend for about INR 1500 per day and spend a few more hundred on fuel and I could manage roadtrips for under about Rs 2000 per day. Today, for 1500 Rs I can only rent a car for about just 6 hours on a weekend.

 A 48 hour rental of a small car costs 6k to 12k depending on kms usage.

We had done a 48 hours, 1200 kms road trip from Bengaluru to Murudeshwara n back at a cost of 6k in rental (XUV500) and another 6k in fuel (12k total)- Now same trip costs about INR 20000!

Though many self-drive companies exist today, average cost of rental is constantly increasing. I understand there's increase in fuel price and all, but even without fuel rentals have raised substantially, as rental companies try to make up their weekday loss from weekend rentals. You may wish to read my detailed whitepaper on the evolution of Self drive rental industry in India

2. More restrictions, less fun
Most rental cars now come with speed governors that limit the speed to 80 kmph, I've to keep a tab on odometer reading as rental now goes up exponentially with increased usage. Too many toll booths and other factors make long distance driving less fun

3. No new exciting cars in self drive fleet
Earlier I used to rent luxury cars just to experience them. Have driven BMW 320d, Audi Q3, Maserati Ghibli, Merc A Class, C Class, E Class, GLA Class and so on this way. But past few years Zoomcar, Myles haven't added any new exciting cars in their fleet.

Royal Brothers and some bike renal companies have exotic bikes, Driven.in has some luxury cars- but three things are highly discouraging
-Very high daily rentals
-100 kmph speed limit
- High accident liability that could run into several lakhs (no proper insurance coverage)

4. Travel Pals have changed family status and priorities
Those who used to accompany for road trips have either settled abroad, got married and having families- their priorities and preferences have changed. Long drives are not fun in an empty car.

5. International trips seem more affordable/tempting
As I explained in #1, renting car for 3-4 days can cost 12-15k. For that amount, I can get return ticket to various destinations in Asia. So the temptation is very high to explore some new international destinations than drive around

6. Most nearby places already visited
Having explored most places drive-able from Chennai/Bengaluru, I am not left with many destinations that are derivable within 2-4 days road trip. So only options are to revisit same place again or fly to some new destination and drive around from there. Related- Weekend destinations from Chennai

7. I don't have a fixed style of traveling
Some invest in good expensive motor cycles and focus on great bike trips all the time. They don't do much of car trips or other formats of traveling. Few focus on solo travel, but my travel style has been diverse- whenever it is cheap, to wherever it is cheap and whichever mode seems viable. I've done all kind of tours- on bike, in a car, solo, family, domestic, international- unable to zero in on one or two types as my own. In other words haven't got an "inner calling"- so when other types of traveling feels more viable, I tend to drift towards that.

8. Perils of too much travel!
As I wrote in this earlier post, at times I feel the need to take a break from traveling and rest a bit- to boost my depleting savings, to accumulate leaves, to simply relax. Few years ago, I used to be out 2 to 3 weekends every month. At present it has dropped to one or two trips per month. Simply relaxing at home doing nothing is also a fun in itself (late realization you may say)

9. Not many established clubs in Chennai
Had there been some clubs/groups/forums focused on road trips where we can subscribe/join, it would have been more convenient to just sign up n join for some road trips, without having to organize everything or incur high cost of rentals. But at this point, hardly any such active groups in Chennai.

Way forward:
  • I am thinking of revising some of the places I've already been to-probably in a different season this time, or a slightly different itinerary or try spend a night where I would have done only day visit earlier and so on. Let me see how things turn up.
  • Where possible I am keen to fly to some far away destination within India and rent a car on self drive locally and explore more. This is largely driven by low fare tickets.
  • Will keep looking for new cars to rent, newer destinations to explore
  • No immediate plans to buy a car but not sure if I will change my mind over next few years. Own car would give me a respite from high rentals, stupid rules and kms limitations.

What are your thoughts?

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