How far would you go for sweet, juicy, yellow mangoes? To Ratnagiri, if you’re part of the Road Trippers Club. The group that was started in February this year is fuelled by its love for driving, discovery and travel. It is no wonder then that no mater where they are, driving across State borders is hardly a hassle for them; one of the founding members famously drove from Dhule in Maharashtra to Indore in Madhya Pradesh for a much recommended plate of poha.
Launched in Mumbai by Ruchik Gandhi, Rikin Gosai, Narayanan, Ankush Birajdar, Vineet Rajan and Deepak Ananth, a group of friends who always travel together, the club is now present in eight other cities including Nashik, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and now, Chennai.
“The ethos of the club is that there isn’t any hierarchy and that all members are part of the community. There are more people who can be credited with starting this club. It is actually a community effort,” says Deepak Ananth, CEO of a startup named Scout My Trip.
Becoming a member is simple. All one has to do is join them for a drive. The trips are listed on the club’s website and members can choose any they like. “You can click on the ‘Interested’ button after reading what we plan to do on the drive, and if there is a payment, make the same online. You can ping us online to get details of a particular drive,” he says, and adds, “Once you sign up, you can even create your own drive and ask others to join you.”
The idea is to encourage safe driving and exploring places within our country, says Deepak. Very often, the team notices that a lot of people are confident about driving in the city but unsure when it comes to taking to the highway. Driving with The Road Trippers Club, helps them overcome that, make new friends, and there’s always the comfort of safety in numbers. Every drive has a theme and activities involved.
“We drove to a beach in Maharashtra to watch Olive Ridley turtles being hatched. We learnt about conservation and the kids loved it. One time, we drove to a centre for education of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and bought essentials for them. Our members helped raise funds. The most enjoyable part was driving them around in our cars and seeing their faces light up,” he says. They have also been to see the neelakurunji blooms in Kodaikanal, and the Hornbill festival in Nagaland. To ensure safety, every drive has a captain and a tail, nominated by the members, depending on their experience. The captain coordinates the route and manages activities. The tail or the sweep ensures no one is left behind during the drive. In case of a break down or an emergency, the tail is around to help.
Road Trippers Club believes in being inclusive and that’s why it’s open to both two and four wheelers. There is also no age group, although you need to qualify for a valid driver’s licence. “We have had a toddler travel with us to Kodaikanal. Similarly, we have had war veterans who travel with us, the oldest being a 70 year old,” he adds.
Interestingly, the club welcomes pets as well. Fluffy Labradors, friendly Golden Retrievers, and cuddly St. Bernard dogs are some of the members who frequently road trip across the country. And what a sight it is to see them sticking their heads out of the window with their ears flapping about.
“We have close to 3,000 members pan India,” says Deepak. Quite a leap considering their first drive from Mumbai to Dapoli in February this year had 12 people and five cars. “Since the Chennai chapter just launched on November 1, we have 20 members so far and our first drive is planned for November 17-18 to the mangroves of Pichavaram.”
For details, log on to www.roadtrippersclub.com