© Cheryl Tay

Planning your first road trip to Malaysia from Singapore

Cheryl Tay is a rare female motoring journalist in Singapore with a passion for life in the fast lane. In her career, she has rubbed shoulders with top executives and personalities in the automotive world. Here, she will be sharing essential driving tips and advice for car owners…
Driving across to Malaysia is a convenient way of going on vacation, but before you hop into your car and drive for 300km to Kuala Lumpur, here are some tips to get you prepared:
1. Prepare your car for the long journey
The first thing you should do is to bring your car to the workshop and get it checked. For example, check the tyres for any wear and also the pressure, top up coolants and fluids – to ensure that your car is in good condition for the journey ahead. Also remember to check that the condition of your spare tyre.
If you don’t own a car, you can always rent one; or rent a bigger car like a seven-seater MPV so the family will be more comfortable.
2. Plan your journey carefully
Have the address of your accommodation ready and check the estimated driving time using Google Maps. Make sure you plot out rest stops along the way for toilet breaks, refueling, checking for tyre pressure and also to grab a bite or a drink. Have a GPS in the car and remember to update the maps before you leave.
3. Have a co-driver, or at least someone who can drive
Try to have someone else in the car who can drive too, so that if the main driver suddenly gets unwell, at least someone else can take over the wheel. If there is no second driver, then make sure the main driver gets enough rest along the way.
4. Prepare essential items
Please don’t forget your passports, have enough money in your cashcard to pay at the checkpoints, keep a first aid kit in the car and also a box of medication on standby. Common medication to have on you includes those for diarrhea, headaches, flu and stomachaches. You can also purchase a Touch’N’Go card at any petrol kiosk in Malaysia, so that you can skip the queues at the tolls.
5. Understand Malaysian rules
Be aware of their traffic rules and speed limits. It is not uncommon to be stopped by Malaysian police on the highway, so keep your eyes peeled for them.
Also check that you might need to apply for the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP). This scheme is likely to kick in the first quarter of 2016, so check before your trip. The VEP has a five-year validity and is a must especially if you intend to drive into Malaysia more often.
6. Compile a list of your favourite music
Put together a list of tunes for the car as the journey might get boring and some of your favourite music might help to liven up the mood. You can hook your phone up with the in-car entertainment system via an auxiliary jack, USB or Bluetooth.
7. Pack games and snacks
Someone is bound to feel hungry along the way and you might not be near your designated pit stop yet. You can choose to make unplanned rest stops for toilet breaks or food of course, but it might help to save time if you have a bag of snacks in the car. Have some sweets that you can pop into your mouth to keep the main driver awake too. If you have children, bring some games to keep them entertained, as they get bored easily.
8. Make sure you’re comfortable
Most or all of your passengers will snooze, so pack extra cushions or pillows in the car to make the journey as comfortable as possible.


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