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Thursday, 16 April, 2015, 18 : 00 PM [IST]

Now Holidays go the ‘DIY’ Way

The FIT segment has grown exponentially in the past few years. This community of travellers perceive themselves as ‘explorers of the planet’ and enhance their travel itineraries to make the most of their holidays. Earlier, they used to hop onto flights to get from one city to another, but eventually they turned to trains and other local modes of transport for a more experiential holiday. Today, there is a gradual inclination towards a self-drive option while on a holiday, not just in India, but internationally as well. Many travellers believe that this gives them a truly intimate travel experience wherein they can see a destination in a way that they wish to.

Self-drive holidays are also a lot more interesting and beneficial than other means of mass transport. Firstly, you can decide your preferred route, pace, and halts along the way. Secondly, they offer the comfort of lugging your baggage from door to door, from the last stop to the next one. Lastly, they are easier on the pocket, especially if you have four to six people travelling in one car.

A self-drive holiday in an overseas destination can be seen as a soft adventure of sorts. You will need to factor in left- or right-hand drive, speed limits, tolls, fuel stops, parking, weather, and so on. One of the biggest challenges earlier was reading maps and finding your way based on your own interpretation of the route. Nowadays, the navigation aspect is easily taken care of by GPS in most car rentals. You just follow the audio instructions and navigate your way. The car-hire charges vary as per size of the car—from small compact cars to intermediate and full-size or SUVs.

Today, there are at least five to ten car rental companies right at the arrival hall of most international airports, allowing you to drive off directly from the airport itself. Most of them accept a valid car driving licence from India if it is in English. However, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is a safe bet. An international credit card by MasterCard/VISA is mandatory, and an amount equal to the rental for the proposed period will be blocked on your card until the car is returned without damage.

All countries with a colonial past, like ours, drive right-handed cars on the left side of the road. So it is much easier to drive in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, UK, Singapore, and Malaysia. In western countries such as the US and Europe, people drive on the opposite side, but it takes only a few hours to get accustomed to it. Islands are the best place to kickstart your experience in self-driven cars, because one cannot lose one’s way or drive off one.

It’s a good idea to start exploring with iconic selfdrive routes around the world, viz, Grand Tour of Switzerland, Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Route 66 in the US, North & South Island in New Zealand, and several others. Typically, car rentals offer more value if hired for seven days or more. You can also ‘mix and match’ by combining it with your regular holiday circuit.
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