If you’re gearing up for your next vacation in the form of a road trip, here are 10 pieces of advice, which can help make your drive a safe and memorable one.
Though airfares are extremely affordable today and flying around is so easy, it’s not that expensive and hard to take a vacation on four wheels. No doubt an aeroplane will get you where you want, quickly, but there’s not much fun looking at a beautiful countryside from above. For your next vacation, how about a road trip? Driving from one country to another teaches you more about yourself, lets you get up closer in touch to the journey you make and maybe even the hands you shake.
So if you’re game for a nice driving adventure, good for you. Here are 10 tips that are a ‘die die must know‘ for a safe and fun road trip.
1. A healthy and clean car is a joyous drive
It’s absolutely essential that you make sure your vehicle is adequately prepared for a road trip before embarking on one. Ensure that the car’s servicing is up-to-date, tyres aren’t worn and properly inflated, and also given a good cleaning.
As your trip proceeds, take time every couple of days to purge your car of undesirable flotsam and jetsam. A protective layer of wax to the car also protects it from all the road grime that will build up throughout your trip.
2. Pack the right stuff
During any road trip, no matter the season, what you bring along with you determines the comfort and convenience of your trip. Always remember that when road tripping, your vehicle is your home for hours on end. Also, pack light so there’s room to collect but don’t forget basics like your money, clothes, some medication, water and paper towels.
And make sure to check your spare tyre, stow a set of jumper cables and a jack, and take note of any phone numbers that you may need for roadside assistance.
3. Ensure that you have mobile network reception
Readily available communications are a must-have on every trip. You wouldn’t want to be stranded, lost or in need of help without anyone to reach out to – apps like Google Maps and Waze are important to have.
Instead of relying on mobile signal from service providers, which tend to behave inconsistently up North, you can opt to use a Wi-Fi dongle for connectivity. At the same time, you can let the folks back home know that you’re safe and everything is well. Just remember to avoid checking your social media accounts every other hour.
4. Have a ‘loose’ plan
If you over-schedule your road trip, you may find yourself struggling to stick to the intended plans, which may rob the essence of fun from the trip. On the other hand, having no plan at all is only recommended for the hardiest of souls.
So, no matter how much you plan, you should expect things to go differently. Keep an open mind and go with the flow. You’ll never know when fun and interesting opportunities will arise. Remember that unplanned surprises will probably make a good story someday.
5. Get off the highways
Unless you have a specific destination and a strict schedule, there is little point in hitting the roads to see the country if you don’t spend some time on the back roads. In countries like Malaysia and Thailand, which will likely be the road trip destinations for Singaporeans, there are many back roads to be explored.
Driving through a quiet, twisty back road is more fun, provides a relaxing drive off the busy highways and helps enhance your enjoyment of the trip. Who know’s? You may even come across a waterfall or two.
6. Know your territory
Knowledge is king. Knowing where you’re headed and knowing what comes with that territory can help prevent disastors. Read up and know the dangers of the area at hand. At the same time, knowing what you can expect at your destination helps save time and petrol.
For example, find out if there are any petrol stations around the area, if a certain shortcut has off-road tracks that your car can’t handle, where the nearest rest stops are, what the speed limits are, where’s nice to stay and what’s good to eat.
7. Stay rested
Before you get to the point on that 12-hour drive when you’re on your fourth cup of coffee in six hours and your arms are shaking, pull the car over and take a nap, even if it’s just for half an hour. Sometimes, sleeping in your car is vital and unavoidable, especially if you have trouble staying awake and nobody can take over driving for you.
Recline your seat into a comfortable sleeping position and you can sleep in your car anytime on a road, at a safe spot. Ultimately, you wouldn’t want to be a danger to yourself, your passengers or anyone else on the roads.
8. Entertain yourselves
Cruising across states is fun and the landscape views are great. But you’ll eventually get sick of looking out of the window and when you do, you’ll need a way to entertain yourself.
Prepare a driving playlist that you and your friends or family enjoy, car karaoke, dance like no one’s watching, capture the moments on camera, play a game of ‘I Spy’ or ‘Guess The Car’, or exchange stories and experiences. Just be sure not to get too carried away, and keep your eyes on the road, and hands on the wheel.
9. Have your documents and a clean record
If you are conducting your road trip without updated documentation of license, registration or insurance, you could be in for a world of hurt if you are pulled over. You may also want to clear up any old traffic and parking tickets before entering into someone else’s country.
Before driving out of the checkpoints, ensure that your passport has been stamped accordingly. Remember the two Singaporean women who drove into Johor Baru and were detained for 24 hours by Malaysian Immigration?
10. Document the trip
Memories live forever but won’t it be so much nicer to have pictures or videos to refer to? The frequency of such epic drives tends to get lesser as we get older and busier with our lives.
Take pictures, and not just the Instagram kind. Road trips make great pictures for beautiful framed photos once you get home. Take pictures and videos – wide-angle shots, close-ups, sceneries and interesting people that you meet. The wacky moments caught on camera can also double up as a good laugh during your matrimonial video montage.
14 Jun 2016 | Text by Nigel Yong, Photos by Low Fai Ming