Why more Indians are opting for self-drive trips than ever

June 10, 2018

Travel portals point to good road connectivity, GPS navigation systems and the various options for car and bike rentals

The trend of Indians taking road trips or self-drive tours has been on the rise for some time. According to some travel portals, the number of people opting for such holidays is growing at an annual rate of 15%, within the age group of 25 to 35 years.

For Mumbaiites, places like Harihareshwar, Murud, Ratnagiri, Ganpatipule — all in Konkan — and Daman are among the more popular destinations they choose to drive down to themselves.

Debolin Sen, who heads Self-Drive 365 — a road-trip planner service run by travel company Cox & Kings — said a huge chunk of Indians are opting to explore domestic destinations by renting a car or a bike. “In contrast to families making trips to hill stations within 500kms a decade ago, we have witnessed a steep increase in youngsters taking up inter-state trips now,” he said. Sen said while north India remains a favourite area for road-trippers, the western, southern and north-eastern parts of the country are also on their wish-lists.

While Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Leh-Ladakh, Kashmir, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are the top domestic destinations, the UK, Ireland, the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Spain are the international ones that offer self-drive packages for Indians.

Travel portals point to good road connectivity, GPS navigation systems and the various options for car and bike rentals for the increasing popularity of road trips in India.

“The destinations chosen by people who drive to that place are generally those which have a rich culture and lots of local things to see,” said Kapil Goswamy, chairman and managing director of travel portal Bigbreaks.com.

Rajeev Kale, president and country head of Thomas Cook's MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) division, said the self-drive holiday segment has grown among people travelling both in India and abroad. “Popular Bollywood movies and the increasing influence of social media has given rise to this trend, and led to road trips being on the bucket list of many travellers,” he said.

Daniel D'souza, who heads the sales department of SOTC Travel Services said, “Travel intends to cater to this demand. With the concept of long-weekend holidays serving as a mini-escape, popular drive-down locations are seeing a strong interest.”

Alok Bajpai, co-founder and CEO of Gurgaon-based travel portal ixigo.com, said the number of people opting for a road trip is increasing by 35% every year “owing to the level of freedom one gets on the journey. Summer remains to be the best time to visit the mountains and we tend to see the maximum spike during April-June.”