Amidst the pandemic, travellers have become more cautious of how and where they want to travel. Social distancing, ensuring proper sanitation and hygiene at all times have become the key priority for a safe and memorable travel experience in the current scenario. Keeping this in mind, road trips have become an ideal choice for travel getaways.
Even so, there’s always the nervousness around the uncertainties involved in travelling during these times, if only by road. Coming to the rescue of travel seekers is ‘caravan tourism’, a common concept in the West to help combat the worry of travel and stay. Needless to say, caravan tourism has started showing a surge among Indian travellers.
Expansive sight-seeing comforts
Caravans are a saviour especially in these times when enthusiasts seek a safe and comfortable road trip experience. With the rapidly changing Indian travel industry dynamics and amidst the new normal, caravan trips may seem like an expansive mode of travel.
Indeed, caravans are fast becoming a convenient and preferred choice of commute, which avoid the shackles of mundane travelling while ensuring safety is priority. The van becomes your home for the duration of the trip, which helps avoid the hassle of inflated flying and accommodation costs, local transport, safety and hygiene. Additionally, and most importantly in these times, it minimises human contact.
For Gurgaon-based 29-year-old Amit Singh, what sealed the deal for caravan travelling was his need to share his experiences in nature with his pug Popu while maintaining social distance.
“In October 2020, I drove thousands of kilometres across 10 Indian states with the ultimate goal of reaching a beach,” shares Amit, an MBA who worked as a marketing professional until 2016, quit it all to become a travel vlogger. “I’d always wanted to travel with Popu to a beach destination. But even the closest shore would be at least a 1,000 km ride from Delhi. Plus, it’s hard to find pet-friendly accommodation in non-touristy destinations in India. And then COVID happened, and the idea of getting onto a flight with a pet seemed challenging.”
A caravan seemed like Amit’s next best option. He rented his home on wheels for Rs 6,000 per night, and set off from Gurgaon to Mattu Beach in Udupi. “You can change your plans without the need to cancel a hotel you may have pre-booked,” says Amit, who notes that having no plan is the best plan. “During our drive there, we parked on a highway, got out our camping chairs and ate our breakfast and just sat back and watched the world go by.”
Jodhpur-based Tosh Kothari, a consultant with PWC, sees a caravan as the safest means of travelling in these COVID-19 times without compromising on the enjoyment factor.
Tosh travelled from Jodhpur to Kumbhalgarh with four of his friends. “It was a very different experience. We stopped at many intervals during our 300-km drive, cooked Maggi and had tea on the roadside and simply enjoyed the journey,” recounts Tosh, who is already planning to take a trip to Leh from Delhi next and soon.
Another travel enthusiast, Aditya Bohra who works as a software developer, took a weekend caravan trip last month with three friends. “It was like an into-the-wild sort of an experience when we travelled from Jodhpur to Pushkar, even though we stopped at Ajmer,” he says cheerfully and adds, “I am planning to travel to Himachal Pradesh sometime soon.”
For enthusiasts like Amit, Tosh and Aditya, ‘caravanning’ makes it possible to slow down and experience the journey they are on.
Like Tosh puts it, “It gives travellers the opportunity to be able to explore unknown places. With comfortable beds, camping equipment and kitchenette materials, a caravan becomes a traveller’s home. The caravan even has the provision of toilet, which may not be as extravagant but is still compact. What more does a traveller need?"
All for an economically viable and safe ride
Carvaa Travelers is a brand child of four friends, Jigyasu Joshi, Himanshu Jangid, Yogesh Kumar and Pranav Sharma, who share a mutual love of wanderlust and to explore new cultures. “Carvaa caravans are fully equipped with all the essentials for a road trip. Even though we are based out of Delhi, we cater to customers from across India. A few of our customers’ top most-travelled routes with us include Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Gokarna,” says Jigyasu, a co-founder of Carvaa Travelers.
When Sanjna Hangal and Vathsala Rangegowda founded Trippy Wheels in 2017, they imagined youngsters would be more enthusiastic about travelling in a caravan. “But to our surprise, families with children loved caravan travelling the most,” says Sanjna, adding that they’ve now tied up with various camp sites and homestays across South India. “Pandemic helped raise more awareness about caravans and we’ve done 128 trips by now.”
(Rentals for 24 hour: Carvaa Travellers for existing caravans: Rs 6,000; Trippy Wheels for existing caravans: Rs 8,000)
Amenities on board
· A well-stocked kitchenette with utensils
· Drinking water and water for other purposes
· A washroom
· Camping tents
· A portable music speaker
· Pillows and quilts
· Indoor games