5 Things to You Should Prepare Before You ‘Balik Kampung’ or Go On Your Road Trip

The Hari Raya holidays are here again, and we all know that the obligatory travelling can be dreadful – those long hours in traffic, that flash of panic when you wonder if you locked the window in the guest room, or the screaming children in the back seat as their smartphones run out of battery. Here is a quick checklist of things you can prepare to make the whole process a lot less painful:

1. Car check

Do examine the pressure and tire threads of your tires. Make sure your spare tire is in good condition and the necessary tools needed to change a flat tire are in the car.

Go for any service that is due. Check the engine oil, battery, air-conditioner and all headlights, brake lights and signals. And remember, run a quick check on your brakes!

Make sure to have a full tank of petrol and be aware of when you would need a refill of petrol along your journey.

The last thing you and the other drivers need is for a car to break down in the middle of traffic congestion!

2. House check

Unplug all electrical equipment and turn off the gas stove. Make sure your windows and exits are locked. If you have food stuff that may expire soon, remember to store it in the fridge or throw them out and clear the trash before you leave. They might rot and attract unwanted pests. We don’t need new friends to welcome us and oh, let’s not even talk about the smell!

If you have any plants or pets that you can’t bring with you on your trip, remember to make plans for them in your absence. Pets can be left at a pet hotel, a trusted friend, or family member. It would be courteous to leave enough food and money for the caretaker. As for plants, you could try one of those DIY Life Hack of putting a small plastic bottle with tiny holes filled with water like these ones: https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/yard-patio/how-to-water-plants-while-on-vacation/

3. Make a to-do list

For some, packing for a trip is as easy as dumping clothes and toiletries into a bag. For others, it is a week long process of selecting just the right articles of clothing, tucking them all neatly and nicely into the bag. Either way, it would be highly advisable to make a to-do list of all the holiday essentials. Of course, if the anxiety in packing gets too much, just remember that most holiday things can be bought from the nearest convenience store. So, just make sure the essentials are with you. This includes your wallet/ purse and mobile phone, and your passport if you are taking a flight. Oh and don’t forget the raya family ‘uniform’ and duit raya!

4. Prepare for the road trip

Despite the traffic, the lowered speed limits or the numerous Ops Selamat or police traffic operation roadblocks you may encounter, the journey could be turned into a good time of fun and bonding with your family or friends with just a few tweaks (even if you happen to be driving alone):

a) Preparing a playlist
I like apps like Spotify but the good ‘ol mix CD or a playlist in your phone would suffice too! It would immediately liven up the mood as you are driving. Songs can be sung along with your family or friends, or perhaps you could play the ‘Guess the Song’ with whoever is in your car (my personal favorite)?

If you’re not into music and more into listening to educational stuff, perhaps download some podcasts for the journey to entertain yourself. Apps like Spotify, iTunes, Pocket Cast or Podcast Addict are available for free.

b) Stocking up on Food and Water
Be sure to bring along plenty of drinking water. If water is not your favourite liquid, try fruit-infused water – which is really just having some cut fruits in your water. Try to cut back on the sugary drinks as it may make you sleepy after the initial burst of energy.

If it were up to me, I would decree that snacks are essential on long road trips. While it is not advisable to eat while driving, ensuring some healthy bites are available would make your hours in traffic a lot more bearable.

Important tip: Remember to prepare some rubbish bags and wet tissues to keep your journey clean and comfortable.

c) Preparing Entertainment
Being cooped up in a small space, children and adults alike would certainly get restless and impatient along the way. Look up puzzle books or pre-install education games on the phone or tablets to keep everyone entertained. There are also plenty of group games that can be played on the road. This may lead to more interesting conversations as everyone gets to know each other deeper – a good opportunity for a meaningful bonding session.

d) Knowing your best route and rest stops
Use apps like Waze or Google Maps to outsmart the traffic. Perhaps there is only one way or all roads are filled with cars, it would also be important to know where the best rest stops are along the way. Timing would be particularly important to avoid the rush hour at your destination.

5. Be prepared for emergencies on the road

One can never be too careful these days, so always be prepared for anything that can happen on the road. Make sure you have a first aid kit in your car, basic emergency tools for a bust tire, and road assistance toll free numbers ready with you such as:

  • Rakan Cop 03-2115 9999
  • POLICE / AMBULANCE / Fire & Rescue Dept 999
  • Century Battery 1800-BATTERY (1800-22-88-379)
  • PRIMELine (East Coast Expressway) 09-5479 111
  • PLUSLine (North South Expressway) 1800-88-0000
  • AmInsurance (Kurnia Auto Assist) – 1800-883-833
  • Liberty (Uni Asia) – 1 800-88-5005
  • Zurich – 1300-886-222

Starting right before your journey begins can minimize the stressful moments and ensure a smooth, comfortable and memorable journey for you and your loved ones. Stay alert and drive courteously. After all, every other person on the road is just like you – eager to reach their destinations safely and be united with their family and friends to celebrate this holiday season.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri & Seasons Greetings!