9 tips for writing a good road trip review

I love long distance road trips and if I can have my way, I would rather drive all the way to wherever I go. When we started Ghumakkar in 2007, writing a review on a road was not the first thing which occurred to us but it happened almost on the first month. So way back in July 2007, I wrote a review on ‘Delhi Nainital‘ and what a grand surprise we had in store. The blog post kept attracting comments all through. As I write this post, it has got in excess of 25,000 visits and has more than 170 comments. Later, Aditya wrote one on ‘Delhi Kanpur Lucknow‘ and that was a real winner. It gets comments even today, standing at 214 and have more than 40,000 visits. I wont be surprised to know that this single post has made a lot of first time riders on this route. The other road reviews at Ghumakkar are equally popular viz.

1. Delhi – Patna ( 21000 views, 115 comments)
2. Bangalore – Chennai ( 28,000 views, 54 comments)
3. Delhi – Goa ( 39000 view, 70 comments, its in 3 parts)
4. Delhi – Jaisalmer (9000 views, 17 comments)
5. Bangalore – Mumbai (5000 view, 17 comments)

and so on. I just picked the ones which I could remember. I am sure there are many more and all of them are categorized under ‘Roads’. Later I wrote few more and I try to comment back when I travel on some sector again which has already been covered by a Ghumakkar. Looking at the feedback and the positive response, we have got, I think it makes a lot of sense to write more of these. This post would try to help fellow Ghumakkars who want to write a road review and all these tips are from my personal experience which I gained based on the tremendous feedback on my road review posts. And that ‘9 tips’ is just a cheeky trick to get this post more views. I heard that ‘top ten’ kind of title sells better over regular titles. So here you go

1. Put a structure / Divide the route
Divide the entire journey into various sections and for each section have a basic template at the top. A suggested template is
Distance – 120 KM
Time Taken – 2 hours
Road Condition – Good to Average

While the rest of this section would have details around your actual travel.

2. Rate roads and define your ratings. Good for me may not be good for you. Define the ‘Good’.

Have a set of ratings and then define those rating. For example, you may have three ratings and their definitions as below

Excellant – Smooth tar, fit for high speeds of 120 KMPH, Double Carriageway, 3 lanes, expressway
Good – Smooth tar, fit for 80 – 100 KMPH. Single Lane. No traffic.
Average – Good tar, can drive around 60 KMPH.
Bad – Potholes, lot of traffic, single lane, countryside road

3. Always always put a route map. Google works best.

Giving a interactive road map is best. Go to maps.google.com, create a map and then get the ‘Embedd Code’ and send it to one of the editors at Ghumakkar and they would do the rest. If you are nice to them, they can even create the route map from Google. If getting a interactive map is not a possibility then at least have a ‘picture’ of route.

4. Mention actual distance / time howsoever unattractive it may be

This is tricky. Never ever mention the standard time which anyone would take. I have often met people who would tell me that Delhi-Jaipur can be done in 4 hours. Well, it can be but they never tell me that whether they have done it and how many times they have done it in under 4 hours. For long distance ( > 300 KMs) drives, an average of 50+ is very good. So stay away from the temptation and report actual time spent including break times. Always take point-to-point so if you are staying in heart of the city, mention that from the heart of the city to the down-town of my destination, it took me x hours.

5. Create a story so add non road details to keep the interest

Just data is very boring. Take folks alongside with you. Share your excitement when you got a better road or your patience during those long jams. Cherish each mile as you cover and remind them about the pending journey. Make them travel with you. Write things like…………. ‘ After Mubarkapur, we were not sure on whether we would be able to reach our destination before evening. It was almost 4 PM and we had a little over 1 hour before the winter Sun would leave us in custody of cooler Moon. The roads were good now and we could make good progress. After about 25 KMs, we had another surprise, a Railway Crossing. There were not many vehicles and we utilized the break to soak in some of the beautiful countryside we had all around us. There was a group of students returning after a game of cricket……”

6. Cover food stops, loo stops, fuel stops in detail

Pay extra attention to your break time and keep some notes on how those place were. Often, there is not enough reliable information on good fuel pumps and good places to take a break. Howsoever non-descript the place is, if you find it good, share the details.

8. Cover Toll charges

This point is for making the total points as 9. I do not see any great benefit in covering this except the fact that they can act as good milestones.

8. Pictures Pictures Pictures

Take pictures. There is always enough to shoot. If you are traveling in hills, stop for a moment and take few pics. If its the regular expressway, take photos of boards showing distances. If nothing else, take pictures of life around the road.

9. Respond to comments and build a community which keeps the post live even after many years
And once you are done and have published your story, do not forget to respond to comments. Request fellow visitors to update their experience as a comment and keep the records current.

I am sure the above is just a guiding document and each one of us would want to have their own bit to the concoction. So go out , take a road trip and write a road review at Ghumakkar. I am waiting for it.

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