Travellers are more mindful about following protocols of social distancing and ensuring proper sanitisation and hygiene at all times for a hassle-free travel experience in the current scenario. Caravans are considered a saviour in these times for those who want a comfortable road trip experience.
The van becomes your home for the duration of the trip that helps to avoid the hassle of inflated flying and accommodation costs, local transport, safety and hygiene and minimizing human contact.
Caravan trips may seem like an expansive mode of travel. Jigyasu Joshi, Co-Founder, Carvaa Travelers Private Limited speaks to IANSlife and opens up about how the brand was conceived and his aim to make caravanning not only an intimate but an economical and viable option for all budget groups.
Q: Do you think the Caravan travelling as a trend is gaining ground and is the Indian traveller ready for the concept?
A: We started working on launching Carvaa Travelers back in 2019. It has been 2 years and when we see the overall current tourism market, there is a significant increase amongst travellers looking for road trips options. The pandemic has further fuelled the trend to minimise human contact and ensure safety and hygiene conditions.
People have now started to experiment with their road trips and that is where caravanning comes in. We have come in contact with numerous people who either want to rent the Caravan for their next trip or buy one for themselves. We have received an overwhelming response for our Caravans. Not just in terms of renting but also manufacturing. So in a way, travelling in a caravan as a trend is surely and gradually picking up.
The best part about travelling in a caravan is that it gives you an immense sense of liberty and that is the very essence of travelling. The freedom of stopping or staying at a point that offers a picturesque view of a place, the freedom of sleeping under the starry night sky, freedom of cooking a fresh meal while on the move are some of the many things that make caravan travelling a wonderful preference.
Q: As safety is still a major concern in India, how do you manage the upkeep and sanitisation of the Caravans?
A: Safety does remain a point of concern when you are travelling. In order to deal with it, we make sure that whichever place the travellers are halting the van is first reviewed by our caretaker-cum-driver that goes along with the vans. Only after speaking with the locals nearby the halting area, we stop at the place overnight. Apart from this, we have certain associations with homestays, camping areas, hostels and resorts in some parts of India where a traveller can go and park the van safely within their premises. We also have a very efficient GPS system in our Caravans and there is also an SOS button in times of emergency.
However, travelling in a caravan is a pretty safe experience as one is always in charge of their sanitisation plus you don’t have to eat outside food as you can cook inside the van. Moreover, we have hosted many couples, families and groups of friends in our Caravans and none of them has faced any major inconveniences or trouble. In fact, on Women’s Day this year, we did a Caravan pool trip where 7 girls from various parts of India travelled across Himachal Pradesh for 10 days. It was totally a safe journey for them.
In order to keep our caravans hygienic, we take a one days’ time between each booking and the Caravans are sent for a wash and basic servicing. Also, before handing them over to a traveller, we sanitise all the spaces inside and outside the vans.
Q: Is the popularity only restricted to metros, or do you get bookings from other cities as well?
A: When we launched Carvaa we expected that our major clientele would be from metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, among others. However, it was a surprise for all of us that the bookings and the queries started coming from all parts of India in the initial days itself. This boosted our morals and made us realise that travellers from across the country are willing to explore and travel in caravans. Our social media presence and reach, especially Instagram has also been instrumental in many ways to get bookings and queries from various parts of India.
Q: How is a caravan designed to make it comfortable for travellers and challenges faced in setting it up?
A: We’re currently operating with two Caravans, called ‘Fine’ and ‘Rare’. Both the caravans have been thoughtfully designed by us. We have engineered them keeping in mind the comfort of travellers within the limited space inside the vans.
With a capacity to accommodate 5 people, caravan ‘Fine’ is equipped with most of the essentials one might need during a trip. There is a well-stocked Kitchenette, Utensils, Drinking Water, 180 litres of water for other purposes, washroom, camping tents, a portable music speaker, pillows and quilts, among other things. While we choose to call it ‘Fine’, the travellers can call it by any name they feel sounds best for it. As for the sleeping space, the camper van has a master bed, 2 sofa-cum-beds and 2 berths. Beautiful LEDs on the ceiling make for a perfect ambience at night. The van also has a washroom with a shower. The shower can be fitted outside the van as well for taking bath in the open. There is enough storage space inside the camper van that can fit all your stuff. The modular kitchen has a 5-kg LPG cylinder and all the utensils for cooking your meals.
With a capacity to accommodate 3 people, caravan ‘Rare’ is an apt choice for the adventure seekers. The van promises comfort and utility even on rugged routes. The caravan is equipped with almost all the essentials you might need during a trip. It comes with a well-stocked Kitchenette, Utensils, Drinking Water, 130 litres of water for other purposes, washroom, camping tents, a portable music speaker, pillows and quilts, among other things. The modular kitchen has a 5 kg LPG cylinder and all the utensils for cooking your meals. Apart from a sofa-cum-bed for sleeping, the roof of the van opens up revealing a cosy bunk bed covered from all sides. There is enough storage space inside the camper van to fit all your stuff. While we choose to call it ‘Rare’, the travellers can call the Caravan by any name they feel sounds best for it.
Since we have modified the Caravans all by ourselves, there were numerous challenges that we faced. The biggest of them all was the challenge to arrange for required resources for building the interiors. There was a dearth of dealers dealing in appropriate items that we needed for the modification when we started fabricating our vehicles. It was a Herculean task to find out the right equipment without compromising on its quality. Apart from the infrastructural hurdles, understanding the rules and regulations around Caravans was also a tedious job. We had to run from pillar to post in order to get the right paperwork done for the Caravans.
Q: Are Caravans an expensive or economical option for travelling? What are the costs involved and how does it compare to other modes of travel?
A: In my opinion, travelling in a van is the most sustainable way of travel. It is a way of travelling that allows you to manage your work in the most efficient ways. It allows you to keep that balance between working and exploring. You could be sitting by a river bank while working on your laptop at one point of time and you may be sitting in the middle of a green pasture while working the next moment.
Travelling in a caravan can be a luxurious or an economical option based on one’s comfort. We, at Carvaa Travelers, are aiming to make caravan tourism an affordable mode of travel in India. So, we have two Caravans — one in which 5 people (excluding driver) can comfortably sleep in and the other with a capacity to accommodate 3 people (excluding the driver). One doesn’t need to book a separate accommodation as the vans can be their humble abode for the road trip. We charge on a per-day basis and the charges for a 5-person Caravan and 3-person Caravan is Rs 6,000 per-day and Rs 5,500 per-day respectively (inclusive of Driver and GST). The fuel, state and toll taxes are not included in this price and have to be borne by the travellers.
In terms of cost, the per-day per-person cost in our caravans is as low as Rs 2,400 that includes the stay, commute, fuel, state taxes, road taxes and also a caretaker-cum-driver. Travelers don’t have to pay extra for the local commute they do for exploring the city. They do save a good amount of travelling in the caravans and apart from that, given the current pandemic-era we are living in, it is also a safe way of traveling to a place.
Q: Pros and cons of Caravan trips?
Pros of Caravan trips:
* Save big while travelling in a Caravan
* Travel within the comforts of a home
* Enjoy picturesque views at any time
* It makes you understand the importance of limited resources and how to use them judiciously
* Gives you a different perspective about a lot of things
Cons of Caravan trips:
* The limited space gets messy very easily
* Always have to keep an eye on your water refilling
* It gets real tough when a caravan gets stuck in dirt
* If the waste tank is not cleaned properly, it can cause immense foul odour
Q: Do you have plans to expand the business PAN India?
A: In the coming few months, we are aiming to set up our own manufacturing unit wherein we will be making caravans for sale. We are currently looking for potential investors for the same.
Amidst the pandemic, slow travel has become the trend of the season. Caravan tourism that is a common concept in the West has now seen a surge amongst travellers in the last one year.