Planning your very first road trip? Prepare yourself as a driver first
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Going on your first road trip? Apart from readying your car and packing the essentials, you also need to ready yourself as a driver. Here's how.

Category: Miscellaneous Advice

Unlike flying, driving to your destination allows you to get closer to your new surroundings during the journey. From winding roads to scenic spots to food joints, driving to a place can be more enjoyable than simply flying there.

Checking your passport's validity is always the first and most crucial step!
However, while getting on a plane means all you need to do is ensure your passport is valid, purchase tickets and pack your luggage (or maybe not), road trips require a bit more preparation. After all, you can't assume that you can just buy what you lack along the way.

This story, however, is how to prepare yourself as a driver. Readying your car and having all your essentials with you is important, but it'll all be for nothing if you and your friends can't get there in one piece.

Practice going on longer drives

It'll be even more helpful if you practice going on longer drives with your intended passenger/s
Many of us are only used to driving around in Singapore, and if you haven't noticed, our island is small. You can drive from east to west in under an hour.

But driving to say, Malacca, is not the same. Especially if you've only been driving locally.

If you can spare the time, practice driving around the entire island in one go. That should take you more than an hour, and give you the feel of what it's like to sit behind the wheel for extended periods.

You might even discover the need to correct your driving position, if it's less than ideal.

Time to exercise

Being in better shape will help you feel less tired during the journey
If your trip is a month away and you haven't been working out, now is the time to start. You don't need to be super-fit, but driving is also a physical activity, so improved fitness makes you a better driver.

Go for regular brisk walks or jogs. If running is hard on your knees, consider cycling instead. Being fitter helps you stay alert, and we can't emphasise how crucial this is on long drives.

Besides, sitting still for up to two hours before taking a break will feel less taxing if you're more limber as well.

Learn to change a flat tyre

You can still rely on roadside assistance in Singapore, but perhaps not if you're in some ulu location overseas
All drivers should know how to change a flat tyre, even if in Singapore, help is a call away and won't take long to arrive.

You can't assume the same convenience across the border even if you have roadside assistance. Malaysia is a much bigger country and depending where you are, help may not be forthcoming. Learn to depend on yourself.

While you're at it, it's a good time to ensure that the tools are in order and that the spare tyre is correctly inflated. You can also buy a pressure gauge and tyre pump and/or puncture repair kit if you haven't done so.

Familiarise yourself with your car

Trying to figure out how the various functions work only before your first road trip may cause unnecessary anxiety
Because drives are typically very short in Singapore, you may not have bothered to learn about your car's features. Do so before your road trip, as you don't want to be stuck middle of nowhere while trying to Google the answer.

Learn how the infotainment system functions, sync your phone, dive into the various menus (if available). Check out the in-car camera's interface or app if you haven't, so you'll know how to download footage.

When you're on a plane, you leave everything to the pilots, cabin and ground crews. In your car, you play all of those roles, and you must know what you're doing.

Driving laws

Don't assume that static traffic enforcement cameras overseas are also painted orange and white just like the ones in Singapore
You don't have to know all the driving laws of the country you'll be driving in. But you should at least familiarise yourself with the basics. For instance, if you're heading to a country that's left-hand-drive, the overtaking lane is on the extreme left, not extreme right.

If you're going to drive in Germany, know that not all autobahn stretches are unrestricted. If you end up with a speeding summons, it's unlikely you can feign ignorance to avoid paying.

With so many YouTube and TikTok videos about travel, learning about the destination country is so easy that there's no excuse not to.

While we're on this topic, it's also a good idea to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) from AA Singapore. After all, we can't presume that our Singapore driving licence will be recognised wherever we travel.

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