We travel a lot. Sadik loves driving, and he wants endless road with good sceneries. Actually he used to tell me that he would be happy to make a career of driving. I asked him, “Like the Transporter?” He said “Yes, but without all the dramas hahaha.”
We like to go to new places, and most of the time, we ended up driving 3 days continuously between cheap highway motel sleeps. Everything is perfect while we are on the road. I just love that we are together; we have tons of snacks in the car, the beautiful views, the big blue sky, and non-stop tracks. What more could I want?
Actually, the biggest problem of travelling on road in India is finding decent stops for food and restrooms. In some stretches we have travelled, they are very remote. Sometimes, it’s impossible to find a restroom, and you need to improvise.
Here are our experiences and some tips we want to share on how to find a restaurants and restrooms while traveling on roads in India.
What to Expect
India is a big country, and most cities, towns and little villages are connected via roads. Road infrastructures are varies depending upon the regions. Major National Highways are divided one-way road with 2 lanes and a service road on the side. They are also a lot of toll booths which you have to spend quite the amounts while doing a long road trip. Sadik has driven in many countries, and he often mentions that road infrastructures in India are comparable to some of the best highways in other countries, but it’s the driving habit of people here that sometimes makes the driving more challenging.
It’s easier to find restaurants and restrooms in the stretches of roads closed to big cities and towns. So when you map out your trip, you want to plan your stops close to the big towns.
In remote area like faraway villagers, on the ghats (mountain passes) in the middle of Nation Park, etc., the stop are rare and impossible to find, so you need to avoid them and finish your business before crossing these areas.
Tips on Finding a Decent Stop for Food and Restroom on Indian Road Trip
Marking the Map for Food and Restroom Break
Before sailing out on a long road trip, study your map and mark possible stops for food and restroom breaks. It’s good to put these basic needs on schedule. Always look for a clean and less crowded place that you can also use the restroom as well. Look for the stop outside big cities and towns because these places usually have big restaurants just outside.
Looking for Keywords Like “Family Restaurant” “Toilet”
We always look for a simple keyword on places on highway. Restaurants frequented by groups of family travelers are usually clean and equipped with basic amenities like spacious parking, toilets and simple food court in economical price range.
Stop Where People Stop
This means you should stop at popular places. This will ensure delicious food and good facilities. You will notice that there are many vehicles parking outside. But it shouldn’t be unnecessarily crowded. For example, I always avoid the stop where buses stop because they are too many people, and you will end up waiting forever to use the restrooms. If you travel by your own vehicle, look for places where 3-5 vehicles are stopping.
No Expectation in Rural Terrains
Like I said earlier, you should finish all your business before crossing the difficult terrains like ghats (mountain passes), the empty stretches of road without towns and villages, national park crossing, etc. In these areas, it’s almost impossible to find a place to stop. Recently we were driving across a Tiger Reserve in South India, where it’s prohibited to stop and unsafe to park. I seriously needed to use a restroom, but we couldn’t stop because we might encounter dangerous wild animals. See, usually I don’t mind going to do my business in the woods. Actually I did it many times. But here even that isn’t an option. I think you know how painful to hold on when you need to go really bad, and I had to do that for almost 2 hours. This was so not good for the bladders I’m telling you! But sometimes you will need to deal with the circumstances.
For food, finding restaurants is a miracle, but you might be able to find small tea stalls where you can get drinks and little snacks.
Avoiding Truck Stops
Okay, people told me truck drivers know the best places to eat on highways. I can agree to this, but in my experiences, most places popular for truck stops aren’t really hygienic. I have been to a few truck stops here, and those weren’t pleasing experiences, so I’m happy to skip truck stop areas.
No Toilet at Toll Plaza
Like truck stops, toilets at toll plazas are nightmares. Most of the time, there is no water, too. So avoid it, and better look for a restaurant ahead.
Kamats Family and Other Restaurants with Big Signboards
On road trip, it’s good to check out a big signboard. Famous stops usually flaunt their advertisements on the sides of highways, and they usually keep the gigantic boards every few kilometers. Most of the time, they will tell you how far you are from the place as well so you won’t miss it. Kamats Family chained restaurants are reliable places to stop. You can expect cheap good food and decent restrooms at these places.
Indian Toilet VS Western Toilet
A lot of people might disagree with me about this, but while travelling, I prefer using Indian Toilet than Western Toilet. Indian toilet is a toilet placed on the floor level used by squatting, rather than sitting. Western toilet is the regular one you have at home which you can sit on it and do your business. I don’t mind using Western Toilet while traveling if it’s super clean and dry, but it’s not always the case on road trip. Because of the number of people using the restrooms per day, the toilets is always wet and dirty so I really don’t want to sit on it, if you know that I mean. I think Indian Toilet is a healthier choice in this circumstance. Let me know what you think; I want to know your opinion on this.
Sometimes You Need to Embrace the Nature
Sometimes, it’s unavoidable to go when there is no restroom available. My advice is finding a secluded corner behind the bushes, just a little inside the woods. Have a friend stand a little behind the spot just in case. Always bring, tissue, wet wipe and hand sanitizer.
Safe Road Trip Eating Habit
I think it’s important to eat responsibly while road tripping. I know food in foreign lands can be so intriguing, but we need to step back and think about our stomach a little. Always drink packaged drinking water. Eat clean food and avoid all super spicy ones.
Drive Safe and Enjoy!
Okay, to be honest, we shouldn’t really stress out about this. What the worst that could happen? Most horrible travel experiences are fun and interesting tales to talk about for years to come. Travel is worth all these minor hiccups. The most important part of a road trip is you driving safe and enjoying every minute of it.