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Planning a monsoon getaway?

Meher Acharia-Dar
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July 31, 2006

When it rains cats and dogs, it is only the truly romantic who feel like getting up and getting out. We applaud your adventurous spirit, but have a list of dos and don'ts you might want to pay attention to.


. Expect delays: It's the monsoons! No matter what mode of transport you pick, there will be delays, so plan accordingly. If you are flying, remember to carry an extra set of clothes and some munchies. Check with your airline, railway or travel agent about the refund policy for rain-related delays, cancellations or schedule changes.

. Pack wisely: Carry Odomos to fight off ever-present mosquitoes. A torch is also a good idea. Take shoes you have worn for a while, because breaking into new ones on vacation isn't recommended.

. Beat humidity: Line your bags with packs of Silica Gel. They soak up moisture, unless you can afford luggage with waterproof lining.

. Carry clothes that dry easily: Light cotton and semi-rayon outfits are always better than hardy denims and corduroys. Also, light footwear like floaters and rubber sandals are best for the rains.

. Charge all batteries and carry spares for your camera.

. Only carry food wrapped in airtight plastic bags, sandwich bags, zip-lock bags or airtight containers. And no, nothing with gravy or gooey stuff, just dry snacks or fruit.

. Carry lots to read and do at your vacation spot. Heavy downpours may wreck your travel plans, but don't let them ruin your holiday. Cuddle up indoors with the latest bestseller, a game of Pictionary or Scrabble.

. Pack for the kids too: Remember to count the diapers and check the milk formula correctly. Carry one extra diaper for every hour in transit. For even younger imps, carry extra ounces of milk or formula and mineral water. The older ones could always do with an extra bag of sandwiches or biscuits and fruit. Carrying your own bottle of boiled water and juice always helps. Keep a spare pair of clothes in a separately wrapped plastic bag. Carry toys and books. Also carry essential playthings for the little ones, but don't take them all out at once. You can even gift-wrap some older, forgotten toys and keep them as a surprise for the end of the trip.


. No leather please: No fancy leather holdall, comfortable leather shoes, or even your leather belt if you can help it. A wet bag can result in a lot of fungus in this weather.

. Take care of your tummy: Don't eat out if you can help it, before you travel. You want to be the healthiest you can be on your holiday.

. Itinerary rules: Avoid trying to pack in too many places or stops. Instead, use monsoon getaways to chill, relax and recover in one or two places. Use that extra time to catch up on your reading, sleep or old friends. What's the point in rushing from place to place in the pouring rain, when you can't stop and smell the flowers?

For driving vacations

. Before hitting the road, get your vehicle thoroughly serviced. Get electrical fittings thoroughly checked and make sure your mud-flaps, rust polish and rubber floor mats, etc are all in place.

. Get a new set of wipers or rubber blades if it's going to be a long trip. If the current ones are doing just fine, keep the news ones as a spare set. Over-use during the monsoon often proves too much for old wipers and blades.

. Get your tyres and brakes thoroughly checked before leaving. While test-driving your car, try braking sharply, suddenly and on inclines to make sure your tyres and brakes respond well in case of an emergency.

. Check your car's air-conditioning too. You will need it during warm conditions and especially to de-fog your windshield from time to time.

. Maintain a safe distance while driving; tyres and brakes take time to respond when wet.

. Keep your extras intact, like making sure your stepney is in working condition as is all the gear in your toolbox. Carry a few extra fuses and spare bottles of battery water, lubricant, oil and coolant. Keep checking your tyre's air pressure at regular intervals.

. To make sure your car doesn't stall in flooded water, fit a rubber cap on the distributor, preventing the ingress of water into the towers of the high-tension leads. Also spray the high-tension leads with special liquids available, preventing any internal short-circuit due to a failure of the insulation of the high-tension leads. Here is a simple idea that works: Take a surgical glove, cut small slots into fingers and pass wires through them. Fix the glove on the distributor-cap. That does the trick!

. Service the charging system, dynamo or alternator. During monsoons, other than the normal load on the battery, there is also the load of the wiper motor. If the dynamo charging is not adequate, the battery can die. The same applies to the starter.

. Ensure the lights are in working order, especially the signal lights, as hand-signals aren't always possible.

. Coat the battery terminals with petroleum jelly.

On the road

. Make sure more than one person knows how to change tyres while driving down long, lonely stretches.

. Drive slowly through stagnant water.

. A most common cause of losing control during the monsoons is aquaplaning -- a phenomenon that occurs when the tread of your tyre is not able to disperse water quickly enough for the tyre to provide sufficient traction. In this case, the water layer acts like oil, offering no traction. To avoid this situation, ensure the tread on your tyres is adequate, at least 2 mm depth and that your tyres are at the correct air pressure.

. If you do get caught in flooded areas, slip the car into first gear and keep a steady foot on the throttle at high revs. This will help the exhaust gases to keep water from entering the tailpipe. After crossing the water hazard, pump your brakes a few times to dry them out.

Do you love to travel during the monsoons? Share your experiences, tips and suggestions.

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Sub: Monsoon Driving

I was driving from Coimbatore to Munnar. It was very pleasing and cooling during our drive in Munnar. It was so plesant and joyous to ...

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Do not forget to carry a Medical Kit and simple gold ring in case of cash emergency.

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Please do not forget to carry white paper napkins with you which not only helps wipe moisture of the front wind shield - but also ...

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