Road Trip Survival 101

Going on a long road trip? Here are some pointers on what to bring and what to prepare for.

  1. Check your vehicle

It goes without saying that you need to get your vehicle, whether it is a car, motorhome or motorcycle, ready. Bring it for a full check up before the trip. Also, make sure you have enough fuel, a spare tyre and other necessary tools/equipment just in case.

2. Going across the border

It is pretty obvious that you will need to have proper documentation with you when you travel. Apart from your identity card, you would also need  a driver’s licence, and don’t forget to check the validity of your road tax.

If you’re planning to drive across the Malaysian border to another country like Thailand or Singapore, then you would need your passport.

If you are carrying passengers, each one would need a passport too. You will also need to fill up a Disembarkation Form or “white card“.

To drive into Singapore, you must have valid insurance coverage for the duration of your (and your vehicle’s) stay in the country, a valid road tax for your vehicle, no unsettled summonses (from the Singaporean traffic police), and an Autopass card. This is a stored-value card for foreign registered vehicles in Singapore. It is an electronic entry permit and isn’t transferable (one card per car).

You can buy the Autopass at the immigration point, where you will be asked to park your car near the Vehicle Entry Permit / Toll Pass office. You would need to have your car insurance and registration details to do this. Top-ups can be made at convenience stores and you must have sufficient credit to pay the toll when you exit Singapore.

Note that your vehicle is likely to be checked (both the boot and passenger cabin). All taxable goods such as alcohol and tobacco must be declared. 

To drive to Thailand, you need a valid Thai insurance for your vehicle and original car registration card.Fill out the Information of Conveyance form and Passenger List form; you can get the forms at the Sadao Immigration Complex, or from tour companies in Changlun, Kedah. You can also buy the Thai insurance for your vehicle here.

If you’re driving a company vehicle, you also need the relevant company forms and authorisation letter.

3. What to bring

The non-negotiable basics of what to bring on a road trip would be foreign currency. It will be easier for you to get into the country. Not all places accept credit or debit cards.

There may be more room for bringing extra stuff if you’re on a road trip because there are no luggage constraints – as long as everything fits in your vehicle and you can carry them. Nevertheless, it is still advisable to pack wisely. Bring only what you need. You don’t want your car to be weighed down with unnecessary luggage or filled to the max until there isn’t enough space to sit or stretch your legs comfortably.

Although you can stop during the journey for food, it is good to bring along some snacks and drinks in the car in case you get hungry and the next rest area or town is miles away.

If your children are with you, make sure you bring along some toys and books or audiobooks to keep them entertained and occupied. These days some form of tech gadget such as iPads will do the trick albeit not encouraged.

Other than the regular necessities like clothing and toiletries, you may want to sort out a playlist of your favourite songs for the journey. Blankets and travel pillows can also make the journey more comfortable for passengers.

If you’re planning to shop during your trip, bring recycled bags to use.

4. Plan your journey

What are the things you wish to do along the way and when you arrive? Although there is more room for flexibility on a road trip e.g. breaking the journey to check out something interesting along the way, it is always good to have a plan.

What kind of local food would you like to try and where to find them? What activities would you like to experience (Thai cooking class, maybe), where can you experience them, and would you need to make bookings before your journey?

Accommodation – Book it in advance! Even if you’re adventurous you wouldn’t want to spend time driving from place to place in a foreign city/country that you’re not familiar with looking for a place to spend the night.

If you feel that you might change your mind on the accommodation or location when you arrive, you can always book just the first night’s stay.

5. Do your homework

Do your research online while preparing for your road trip. Contact the relevant authorities if you need to, for the necessary information.

Be aware of the traffic rules – as well as other regulations – in your destination country.

Is there a limit to what you can bring into or out of the country? For example, did you know that each visitor is only allowed to buy 1kg of rice in Thailand for the purpose of bringing back to your home country?

Sometimes, within a short time, regulations or requirements may change, so it is good to check before you leave.

Weather – Find out what the weather conditions are like too. You may not want to plan a road trip during the rainy or monsoon seasons as there would be less visibility and the road conditions would be slippery when wet.

Lastly, keep a positive attitude at all times. A road trip is supposed to be fun!




– The Star

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