Caravans are the new tourism trend in India. With the rapidly changing Indian travel industry dynamics and amidst the new normal, caravans are fast-becoming a convenient and preferred choice of commute to avoid the shackles of mundane travelling while safety being the key priority. Renting or investing in a caravan is a different thrill of its own - perfect for those of us who like to stay indoors but also explore new and exciting destinations at the drop of a hat. Caravans or camper vans allow travellers to travel but with the safety of home intact. The culture of caravans in India seems to have hit the road in recent times. In February 2021, Maharashtra announced a caravan tourism policy wherein parks in the state would host camper vans, caravans and trailers of all sizes. The government of Karnataka too has given the go-ahead for a caravan tourism project in 2020. In February 2022, Kerala announced a comprehensive, stakeholder-friendly Caravan Tourism Policy to meet demands and preferences of tourists in the post-pandemic world. The two major components of this policy are Tourism Caravans (specially-built vehicles for travel, leisure and stay) and Caravan Parks (designated places to park the vehicles and enable the visitors to spend a night or a day or station for an extended period to explore the destination).
What’s important is the construction of a sufficient number of caravan parks in India which act as parking spaces where the vehicles can stay overnight in a safe area. Renting or investing in a caravan is a different thrill of its own.
A caravan rental start-up based out of Delhi, Carvaa Travelers Private Limited was launched in October 2020 with an aim to upgrade comfortable travel experience within the country at an affordable price. It is a brand child of four friends- Jigyasu Joshi, Himanshu Jangid, Yogesh Kumar and Pranav Sharma who enjoy a mutual love of wanderlust and exploration of new cultures. Currently, they have two caravans whose bookings and transfers can be done anywhere in India at a nominal additional charge.
We spoke to Jigyasu Joshi, one of the co-founders at Carvaa to find out more.
What inspired you to get into this travel space?
During my job previously as a journalist, I got ample opportunities to travel and explore the country. I believe I fell in love with the idea of exploring in those days. As a matter of fact, the idea of starting a Carvaa also came to us during one such trip. We choose to start caravan rental as a business when we identified back in 2019 that there were hardly any caravan rental service providers in the country. Those who were there at that time were charging exorbitant rentals that were too harsh on the pockets. Apart from that, the quality of caravans was not top-notch, and the awareness related to caravanning was not out there. We came up with Carvaa while looking for solutions for all these problems.
How is caravanning different to staying in a hotel?
One of the major differences between caravanning and hotel stay is that caravanning is a sheer liberating experience. For instance, most of us have at least once felt the urge of stopping at a scenic spot that we found while travelling to our destination. With caravans, we get the freedom of not just stopping there but also having the option of staying there with all the amenities handy. With a caravan along, you can explore the wilderness and feel nature up close. To put it in simpler terms, caravanning is like having a home on wheels wherever you travel.
During one of my caravan trips with friends, we halted at a very small village — a few kilometres from Udaipur and it was just magical there. The night sky was totally starry and the greenery nearby added to the magic of that location. In the morning, we found a small freshwater natural pool for bathing and had the best time of our lives.
Could you tell us about the kind of caravans you have for booking?
With a capacity to accommodate 5 people, caravan ‘Fine’ promises comfort, utility and most importantly a happy road trip. The caravan is equipped with most of the essentials one might need during a trip. It comes with a well-stocked kitchenette, utensils, drinking water, 180 litres of water for other purposes, a washroom, camping tents, a portable music speaker, pillows and quilts, among other things. Apart from all the amenities, the best part about the camper van is that it gives you the freedom to stop at any place you find stunning enough to be at. With a capacity to accommodate three people, caravan ‘Rare’ is an apt choice for the adventure seeker in you. The van promises comfort and utility even at the rugged routes. The caravan is equipped with almost all the essentials you might need during a trip.
One can visit our website to make a booking or can get in touch with us through mail or call in case they want to make an offline booking. Also, there is no eligibility as such and at least a month’s notice is required for the booking. And I should point out that our caravans are pet-friendly.
What are the facilities and advantages if one was travelling with parents or children?
The five-person caravans have a master bed, two sofa-cum-beds and two berths. The LEDs on the ceiling make for the 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 a 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.
The three-person caravan has a sofa-cum-bed and the roof of the van opens up revealing a cosy bunk bed covered from all sides. The washroom inside the van also has a shower that can be fitted outside as well for taking bath in the open. There is enough storage space inside the camper van to fit all your stuff. The modular kitchen has a 2kg LPG cylinder and all the utensils for cooking your meals. Besides all the amenities, the best part about the camper van is that it gives you the freedom to stop at any place you find stunning enough to be at. Included in the amenities are camping tents, camping chairs and stools and electricity backup in the form of an inverter.
Once one has booked the caravan, what are the nitty gritties to look out for?
Before a trip starts, we share a message with them with some pointers regarding the things to keep in mind while caravanning. We give out specific instructions before you travel - especially for niche situations - for instance, keeping the curtains of the van open while crossing Delhi and Punjab. As per the state laws, it is mandatory to do so or it might attract penalty from the traffic authorities And to make sure that no one in the group is littering while travelling.
As for the parking of the vehicles, we have associated with several camping grounds, and we also keep in touch with local homestay/guest houses in various states. This enables us in giving options to the clients when they are travelling to those areas. The water refilling and waste disposal are taken care of by our drivers during the trip. They also keep the van clean at all times.
What kind of response have you been getting? Tell us about the broad profile of people who are booking caravan trips. Any interesting anecdotes?
The response has been overwhelming, to be honest. While we thought that only the young travellers will be interested in this form of travelling but to our pleasant surprise, we have seen a positive inclination of the senior citizens towards caravanning. This is because of all the basic facilities that caravans offer. Broadly, we get booking requests from the age group of 25 to 34.
What is the price range for booking caravans? How do you attract younger people/ families who may have limited finances, what action is the club taking to keep site pitch costs to a minimum, particularly in the school holidays?
Since the inception of our business operations, we have made it a point to keep the rentals affordable for all. Our 3-person caravan can be rented for INR 5,500 per-day and this rent is inclusive of the driver and GST. Our 5-person caravan can be rented at INR 7,500 per-day and our 7-person caravan can be rented at INR 9,500. The diesel, state taxes and toll taxes are not included in the rental and has to be borne by the travellers as per the actuals.