6 road tips for a smooth journey back to your hometown for CNY

Driving back to your home town or home state this festive season? Make sure you are well prepared for the road trip. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

After a quiet Chinese New Year last year, Malaysians will get to "balik kampung" during this year's festive period.

National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique recently announced that the country will be observing standard operating procedures under Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan. As interstate travel is allowed, Malaysians will get to return to their respective hometowns or home states.

Granted, the balik kampung experience has changed amid Covid-19. What hasn't changed though, is the journey on the road.

If you're driving back this CNY, here are some tips to ensure a smooth and pleasant journey.

Service your car

Prior to your trip, schedule a service to make sure that your car is in good condition for the long drive ahead. If you're looking to save some money in the long run, air conditioner servicing may help reduce fuel usage. On the day of departure, check these things: tire pressure, water or coolant, engine, transmission oil and battery water.


If you know you would be passing through toll gates during your journey, make sure to top-up your Touch 'n Go card, SmartTAG or RFID sticker at least one day before you leave.

Plan the drive

Planning your journey these days is a breeze thanks to navigation apps. As with any celebration, the highways are expected to be packed with cars. Look out for the time advisory (TTA) issued by respective highway officials. The suggested travel timing usually works and is easily accessed on their websites.

Get some rest

Rest for at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving. The Rest and Service Areas are a good place to freshen up. Better known by as R&R – for Rest & Relaxation, or the Malay term (Kawasan) Rehat Dan Rawat – these stops have become an integral aspect of the Malaysian road trip experience.

Get on social media

Tuning in to platforms such as Twitter can give you an insight on the latest traffic updates. Some useful accounts to follow are: @mytraffic, @PDRMsia_Trafik, @plustrafik and @LLMinfotrafik. Certain hashtags – such as #kltu, #plus, #jbtu and #ilintas – can also provide updated information from other users on the road.

Food for the road

To minimise your time at the R&R, consider packing some food and snacks. This will save you time from queuing up in crowded cafeterias. Some travel treats include sandwiches, grapes, apple slices and crackers. Pack these in a cooler box or resealable bags to maintain the freshness of the food. You might also want to avoid food high in salt as you may need to drink more water to quench your thirst, resulting in more frequent toilet breaks.

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