So you have a couple of days off, and you are looking at getting away with the gals without tearing a hole in your pocket. Sure, staycations are always an option, but why not consider a road trip with your BFFs!
Planning a road trip for the first time can get to your head – what to do, where to go, what to bring – let alone planning activities that appeal to everyone in the group. Lucky for you, we have your back on this one. Here are 4 tips and tricks to planning that exciting getaway on wheels:
Pick Your Army Right
Your besties can be few or many, but it’s important to pick the right pals who will add value and fun to the experience, and not cause you more stress. Of course we’re not suggesting excluding special people from your “wheelcation” but one would need to know their roadies’ personalities intimately in order to plan a full proof holiday.
Do your friends have special dietary needs? Are they antsy and can’t sit still for too long, or are they the types that would rather get kidney stones than use any random public bathroom? Do any of them drive or own a car?
Best way to get around this is to gather everyone together and do a checklist. Planning is easier when it’s done ahead of time, and in an efficient and organised manner.
The road ahead
Where to go can be the most arduous of considerations, with just so many places you could possibly visit. Chances are you’d want to leave the island and head into Malaysia. Around popular vacation periods and weekends, the causeway is likely to start filling up as early as 8am. So if you are leaving on those days, start your trip at about 6am, get some breakfast on-the-go and get going.
For a 4-day trip, we recommend heading up as far as Kuala Lumpur, to still have time to enjoy sight-seeing for a day or two. The drive from Singapore should take you less than 5 hours.
If you want to inject some art and culture into your vacation, then head on up to Penang. The total drive would take you anything from 8 to 10 hours directly from Singapore. Or you could do an overnight stopover in Kuala Lumpur, which would break your travelling time in half. When approaching any city – Penang or Kuala Lumpur – try to avoid rush hour periods of between 8.30am to 10am in the morning, and between 5.30pm and 7.30pm in the evenings. In Kuala Lumpur, the rush hour jams have been known to even stretch on as late as 9pm. That’s the beauty of a road trip, having the flexibility to plan what suits you best.
Oh, and don’t forget those rest stops!
Your mode of transport
Probably one of the more important considerations that could make or break a road trip is the car you use. You’ll be spending a lot of time in that car, so choose a car that can add value to that experience. This is also where knowing your besties come in handy.
So what are suitable rides for a road trip? Let’s start with how many of you are traveling in total. For a car that has plenty space for anything from 4 to 8, we recommend a MPV. Don’t forget that you’ll still have luggage, and shopping to bring back. MPVs provide ample boot space, and leg room for even the most restless of passengers.
Toyota’s Previa is a great model for just this sort of trip. The versatile seating configurations in the third row allow them to be stowed up for a larger boot space to place your shopping spoils and luggage. This car also amps up the comfort value with individual Captain and Ottoman seats that give each passenger their much needed space, and comfort befitting first class treatment. With foot rests, wide elbowroom and ample space to lean back, your passengers may even fall asleep along the way. The rear air-conditioning also means that everyone is kept cool in the blistering Malaysian heat.
The integrated infotainment system incorporates helpful GPS Navigation, and reverse camera to make the drive even easier and stress-free. The rear seat entertainment system also provides hours of video playback and Bluetooth connectivity functions to tune into music from your mobile devices – all to keep passengers rightly entertained while on the road.
The Toyota Previa also has a cruise control function to help reduce fatigue during long drives. The function also helps to ensure a consistent driving speed throughout levelled-ground to avoid a speeding ticket.
When driving up unfamiliar roads, it always helps to have added safety features to your car such as the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) which improves vehicle control and avoids skidding, or Hill-Start Assist which prevents vehicles from rolling when you move up a hill from a stationary position – this is especially handy for Malaysian roads. When driving on dimly lit roads or at night, the Toyota Previa has Intelligent Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) that changes the headlights’ directions according to steering wheel angle and driving speed for improved visibility. A definite advantage in ensuring your safety on the road.
It is roughly a 355km drive between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and if you’re driving at night, the Toyota Previa’s twin moonroofs lets you soak up the city’s skyline and KLCC’s twin towers or even gape in awe at the starlight sky going driving between cities. Due to the long distance, you’ll also want to get a car which can get you there with as little petrol top ups as possible. The Toyota Previa has a good fuel efficient engine that will get you there with no refuelling needed.
We don’t need to tell you that when you travel around the region, plan for wet-weather and bring ample raincoats and umbrellas to keep yourselves dry and snug.
You’ll be passing by lots of toll booths along the way so keep lots of loose change handy. Most toll booths publish their rates clearly on the signage as you approach the booth. Average toll booths could cost you between MYR$3 to MYR$5.
For luggage, opt for backpacks instead, and pack light – you’ll definitely be doing lots more shopping along the way.
Bring along ample toiletries. Since you are not flying, you can bring along larger sized amenities such as soap and shampoo, so mates sharing a room can use the same product.
A good GPS system can do a lot more than just getting you to your destination; it can help you sane on the road. Speed warnings that display the current speed limit and indicate if you have exceeded it when travelling on unfamiliar territory can keep you safe and legal.
Some other things to consider would be basic medication to cover anyone who might get a flu or stomach bug, and insect repellent for those who attract pests (no, we don’t mean barflies!).
Again, depending on your itinerary, you might want to pack a dress or two to head out to a nice bar after dinner. Kuala Lumpur is known to have a very active night life which you must check out. Changkat Bukit Bintang and Jalan Ampang have a bevy of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from.
With the stronger Singapore dollar, a road trip to Malaysia can be loads of fun, yet cost-effective. Cities like Malacca and Penang have been buffing up their arts and culture scene, literally bursting at the seams with activities to see and do, and the best way to enjoy it all would be to have your own transportation to get around. Get your sassy self in the driver’s seat and start planning.
So when is your next road trip going to be?
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