In line with the fast maturing and evolving Indian outbound travellers seeking experiential holidays, the trend of self drive holiday is gaining popularity rapidly.
Ravi Khanna, 29-years-old, works as a marketing executive in an advertising agency. When on the job, he occasionally pays a visit to his company headquarters in Madison Avenue, New York. Otherwise, his favourite destination is New Zealand where he gets to drive around the rolling dales in a car of his choice. “Self drive packages to New Zealand really let me get a feel of the countryside and soak in much more than what I would have otherwise,” he says. The flexibility to visit destinations of one’s choice and not be timebound is a major reason why the concept of self drives, an already popular option internationally. Indians going abroad for leisure are increasingly picking up self-drive packages. In lieu of this trend, at travel and tourism fair ITB Berlin in March 2015, ‘Dream Drives: India Outbound-Self Drive Experiences 2015’ book was launched, which is a comprehensive compilation, featuring some of the best drives in the most popular self-drive destinations such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, USA, Switzerland, Germany and UK.
The experience and the beauty of each showcased drive has been described with practical information like route map, total distance, number of days to cover the road trip, stop-over/halts for the night, major attractions and ‘must see and must do’ along the route. An overview of the country as a self-drive destination and highlights of other interesting self-drive routes, do’s and don’ts while driving, tips for drivers, etc., are also featured.
A growing interest
There is a growing tribe of Indian travellers who believe in this philosophy and are guided by it on their international holidays. There is nothing better than a road trip to discover and experience a destination. “Travel as you please, plan your own itinerary, explore as far as you want and at your pace,” the mantra of self drive holidays, has captured the imagination of the discerning and the well travelled Indians.
While one can drive around in any country, there are some with a combination of excellent road infrastructure, wayside amenities, tourist attractions and fantastic routes that have a special appeal as self drive destinations. Countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, USA, Germany, Switzerland, UK, etc., are among the popular self drive holiday destinations, offering road trips and iconic routes that are truly spectacular making the journey an exciting adventure. For instance, New Zealand has developed self-drivethemed- highways like Alpine Pacific triangle, Classic New Zealand Wine trail, Thermal Explorer highway, Inland Scenic Route 72, in both the North and the South Islands. These themed highways are multi-day routes from one point to another that will lead you through some of our most famous landscapes, with great attractions along the way. All routes are supported with road sign-posting and touring maps, which point out all of the attractions and activities.
Indians are also taking to self drive holidays for the ease of renting a car of their choice, navigating around with a GPS, being able to drive with Indian licence and in countries like Australia, New Zealand, UK, and South Africa, with the comfort of driving on the same side of the road. They are simply catching on to a trend that is big globally. Shawn Mendes, Director, Discover the World – India, Hertz – India Representative, said, “Hertz has been recording a strong growth in the outbound business from India. A driving holiday proves to be costeffective, even more when travelling in a group or with family. Driving abroad is easy and stress-free as the roads are generally well maintained and clearly signed. With the Hertz NeverLost GPS one can save time with online trip planning, real-time weather and airline flight and gate information.”
Self drive is advantageous
Self drive tourism brings with it a number of advantages, which has helped it gather a significant growth momentum worldwide. Firstly, travellers have the freedom to explore the destination at their own pace and navigate wherever they want. Driving around on one’s own proves to be cost-effective, when compared to other means of transport. Self drive car renting is hassle-free in the sense that tour operators make sure to include protections in their pricing so that the customer is covered in case of an accident. According to the travel market study, ‘ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013’, Road Tourism or ‘touring’ (a round trip tour in one or several countries) has grown considerably 27 per cent worldwide between 2009 and 2013. The trend has only firmed up after that. This development represents the second highest increment among the different types of travel, making touring, next to “city trips”, one of the two strongest driving forces in the international tourism industry. So get ready to explore a country at your own pace!