Going on your first road trip can feel like going overseas on your own for the first time.
There’s a lot of excitement, but a good amount of nervousness as well, for you’ll be exploring new places, trying new food and driving on unfamiliar roads.
In preparation, you’ve checked your passport’s validity and ensured that your car is in good condition as well. Perhaps you’ve been wisely preparing yourself as a driver, too.
Although we can’t suggest what you should pack in your luggage, we definitely know a few things that you need to have in order before setting off.
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE COVERAGE
Drivers should know how to change a flat tyre and jump start a flat battery. But – touch wood – you never know when you might find yourself in a more serious situation.
Before your journey, find out what kind of roadside assistance you can count on should the need arise. If you’re driving a new car, does the dealer also offer assistance in Malaysia?
Now, if you’re driving a used car that is no longer covered by dealer assistance, do consider enquiring with AA Singapore about their reciprocal services in other countries.
It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
TOUCH ‘N GO CARD
You can’t enter Malaysia without a Touch ‘n Go card. You’ll also need it to pay toll charges while you’re driving there.
The easiest way to try and acquire one is to look for the EZ-Link x Touch ‘n Go Motoring Card at a petrol kiosk or one of these selected 7-11 outlets.
You could also try to purchase either the “Classic” or the “Enhanced” Touch ‘n Go card. Most drivers would probably prefer the latter, as you can top-up its value via the app and your smartphone’s NFC function.
Bad news, though. Touch ‘n Go cards, especially the Enhanced version, are in short supply. Unless you have friends who can lend you theirs, it’s likely that you’ll need to purchase one from a local reseller. And it’s not going to be cheap.
VEP (VEHICLE ENTRY PERMIT)
According to Malaysian law, all foreign-registered vehicles entering Peninsular Malaysia are required to register for a Vehicle Entry Permit.
After registering, you will be issued with an RFID tag, which must be attached to your car. As the RFID tag is unique to each vehicle, it is not transferable.
The VEP is valid for five years. Click here to register and/or find out more information.
LOG CARD AND INSURANCE
Keep a physical copy of your vehicle’s log card and insurance certificate in the glove box. You never know when you might need to produce these.
A friend recounted an incident in Malaysia when a policeman, perhaps suspecting that his vehicle was stolen, inquired as to why his car had no road tax disc displayed.
After explaining that displaying the disc was no longer required back home in Singapore, he showed the officer his log card to prove that he was indeed the vehicle’s owner. Only then was he permitted to continue on his way.
A THREE-QUARTER FULL FUEL TANK
You’ve probably heard anecdotes from friends and relatives about being able to enter Malaysia with less than three-quarters of fuel left in their tank.
While it’s possible that your fuel gauge may escape inspection (thus enabling you to fill up with cheaper petrol), do you really want to take that risk and end up being turned back?
If this is your first road trip, ensure that you have enough fuel to at least cross the border. It’s all part of proper preparation.
We’ve become so accustomed to cashless payments in Singapore that it’s easy to assume we can enjoy the same convenience when we travel overseas.
To avoid the trouble of not having cash on you when you need it, or the hassle of having to find stores that only accept credit cards, don’t forget to change money before leaving the country.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to take that cash with you, and authorise overseas payments on your credit card/s if you haven’t done so.
While registering for a VEP, ensuring roadside assistance coverage and changing money, it’s easy to overlook the need to activate data roaming for your smartphone. Charges vary depending on your service provider.
You can still enable this the moment you reach your hotel and have access to Wi-Fi, but not having cellular service before you arrive is just unwise.
It’s certainly tempting to go “off the grid” for a few hours and not have any distractions, but you’ll immediately regret that decision if (touch wood) you suffer a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.
By now, you’ve probably read and heard about how bad the congestion can get at both the Causeway and Tuas Second Link crossings.
To help ensure that your first road trip begins smoothly, download the aptly named Beat the Jam app. According to its description in the Apple Store, the app “provides real-time jam estimates, traffic cameras and traffic forecasts using historical data.”
It can’t eliminate traffic congestion for you, but you can certainly use it to plan an optimal departure time.