CHENNAI: Picture this. you are spending your weekend at the Pichavaram mangrove. One evening, you spend all your time paddle boarding and kayaking. The next day, you wake up to relish fresh seafood by the backwaters. Elsewhere, you spend the night in a dense forest, amid monkeys chattering and deers barking, after an exhausting off-road safari adventure. Here’s the pleasant twist — all this is without having to take the effort of finding accommodation in the closest vicinity, and making the most of the trip with all the essentials taken care of. Siddharth Varman’s Roadhouse, a city-based, travel company, helps you tour at ease with its custom-built, off-grid campervans.
Travel on wheels
Siddharth launched the project on August 15, 2020, and it went live in August 2021. Explaining the challenges encountered while experimenting with a relatively new concept, the Neelankarai resident shares, “I enjoy off-road trips and plan them frequently with a group of friends. Packing up and unwinding after one turned out to be cumbersome. We used to end up sleeping in a cramped space inside the jeep. Such experiences pushed us to try renting a van. Each of us brought our mattress to rest. Thus, the idea of a campervan was born. But executing it in design, with all the features, was tough because not many came forward to build a model fearing the risk factors. We were determined to complete it and here we are, booked for almost all the weekends in advance.”
Similar to a caravan, a campervan is a cozy yet compact version that can accommodate four people. It’s fully furnished with a wooden cabinet and a sunroof. It encompasses a small bathroom with a shower, a chemical toilet, and a deposit tank. After using it eight to ten times, the tank can be detached and the waste can be disposed of in a sewer. The chemicals prevent contamination and disintegrate the waste. There’s a small pantry with a single burner stove, a sink, and an icebox that can be used as a fridge. “You can store meat and frozen food for up to five days. It can be taken along for fishing. We’ve also got solar panels to extract electricity. There’s a 150 amps inverter to charge your devices. We have two rotary fans. There’s a convertible bed that doubles up as a sofa in the lounging area. We also have an inflatable bed,” says the adventure junkie, who was working for an automobile company before setting up this business.
A home on the move
Siddharth is particular about lending the vehicles to people above the age of 25 with a licence of more than five years without black lists. People can either opt for the self-drive option or with a driver at an additional cost of `500 per day. The response from the locals has been immense. “We expected youngsters to form a majority of our clientele. But, we’ve also had middle-aged couples and parents who cannot travel long distances in a car. Over 50 per cent of our customers are campers. People take it for three, five or even ten days. We offer affordable packages depending on the number of days. The campervan has gone to Tirupati, Guruvayur, and Puducherry,” he details.
With plans of introducing two more campervans in the pipeline, Siddharth wants to incorporate the feedback from customers in the newer models. “Caravans, the bigger versions, were earlier restricted to celebrities and the elite. Now, even the common man has a similar experience in a campervan with similar facilities. While weekends are packed, we’re trying to push for takers during weekdays too with attractive offers. That said, it’s always safer to make a booking at least a week or ten days in advance. In our city, we’ve been the only players in the campervan market so far,” he says.
Siddharth is also open to curating weekend getaways based on customers’ preferences. “We often suggest places like Pichavaram, Pulicat, Kodaikanal and Kotagiri for camping activities. There are many curated trails too. The best thing is that you get to experience everything without having to compromise much. It’s more like travelling along with your home and this is the way forward,” he suggests. The basic rent per day costs Rs 6,999 barring toll and fuel expenses. Special offers are updated on their official social media pages.
For details, visit: Instagram @theroadhouse.in or call 9884446456