Getting ready for a road trip

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Driving to Malaysia for a fishing expedition soon? Here are some tips to prepare you for your adventure.

The Car

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Servicing
Send your car for servicing at least two weeks before the planned drive. You never know what may need replacing, and since vehicular parts are not necessarily always available on hand, you may end up waiting for a week for a particular part to arrive.

Battery
Charge your car battery. A dead battery in a rural region may mean that you end up stranded for hours in the middle of nowhere with only a couple of dead fishes in your trunk for company.

Brakes
Aside from reckless drivers who will endanger you and your passengers’ lives by cutting into your lane, there might also be all manner of wildlife that you may have to slam on the brakes for. Make sure your brake pads are still in good condition, and that your last brake fluid change is at most two years prior to the journey.

Tires
Do not count on perfect road conditions. In the event of bad weather, rough terrain or an uncontrolled skid, the only things keeping your car on the road are your tires. Make sure the treads have not been worn away, that the pressure is adequate, and that there are no irregular bulges or wear-and-tear anywhere.

Fuel
If you’re driving into Malaysia from Singapore, remember that your tank needs to be at least ¾ full before you are allowed past the checkpoint.

The Driver

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Sleep
Get a good night’s sleep the night before to reduce the likelihood of an accident. Consider doing a driver swap or plan rest stops along the way, to ensure that you are adequately fresh for the entire drive.

Eyesight
Many road trips to remote fishing spots require that you drive through the night (so that you will arrive at first light, ready to fish), and if you have any problems seeing in the dark, you may wish to reconsider the drive.

Itinerary
Should anyone need to get hold of you in an emergency, it would help for them to know exactly where you are at any given point in time. Additionally, other drivers in your convoy will need to know where you may like to meet or make pit stops during the drive.

Must-haves

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Fishing tackle
It should be obvious, but just in case you pack everything else and forget about your fishing gear. Make sure you have enough line, that your tackle box is properly packed and that your reel is serviceable.

Charger
It goes without saying that a communication device will be invaluable on a road trip. But make sure you have your charger as well, and pack enough spare batteries to last you the trip!

Navigational aid
While your smartphone may have a GPS, it is a good idea to pack an additional navigational aid such as a standalone GPS device or a map and compass, just in case your smartphone dies or fails to get reception at a most crucial juncture.

Passport
Make sure you have your passport and any required travel permission slips or visas. Realising that you have forgotten your passport as you approach the immigration checkpoint can result in excessive cursing.

Insurance
Always opt for travel insurance whenever you leave the country. There are many ways in which you can get hurt when driving and fishing. Getting covered is relatively easy especially as insurance can be purchased online.

Money
Make sure your money has been converted to the right currency, and avoid carrying large wads of cash around with you. If you have to (i.e. to pay the boatman or boat charter company with), be sure to stash the bulk of your cash in your main luggage and avoid flashing it around to prevent unwanted attention.

Food and refreshments
A hungry driver is an irritable and unfocused one. Always make sure you have enough water and snacks with you, to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar up. While packing lots of energy drinks may also seem like a good idea, they are no substitute for sleep: do not rely on them to keep your concentration and energy levels up for protracted periods of time.

Illumination
Even when travelling in the day, it is worth having some form of torchlight or flashlight with you at all times. Not only will this help you in locating smaller objects in the darker corners of your car, it can also be used to help you check around the tighter nooks and crannies in your engine in the event of a breakdown.

First-aid kit
A first-aid kit will help you deal with minor injuries and—in the event of a serious injury—help you stabilise the patient’s condition until proper medical assistance arrives. Always carry one of these around with you at all times, and make sure at least two people in your party know how to use the kit.

Good to have

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Icebox
If you’re planning to bring your catch back, make sure your icebox is properly prepared and packed in the trunk of your car.

Insect repellent
A real lifesaver in tropical countries, insect repellents will make any freshwater or shore fishing trip that much more bearable. Even when planning an offshore expedition, if you have to trek some distance to get to the boat, it may still be prudent to douse yourself with insect repellent before getting out of the car.

Sunblock
It is advised to apply a minimum SPF 30 sunscreen when taking part in outdoor activities. Re-apply every two hours for maximum protection.

Sunglasses
Squinting against the glare just to see your lure in the water can be really tiring on the eyes and give you a headache at the end of the day. Opt for sunglasses with polarised lenses if your budget permits.

Two-way radio
If you are travelling with a convoy, a two-way radio is invaluable. Sure, a mobile phone does essentially the same thing, but do you really want to rack up those auto-roaming charges? Plus, it’s always fun to have an excuse to say things like “over and out”.

Music
Long drives can be really tedious, and even best friends will eventually run out of things to talk about after a while. A good playlist of your favourite songs will keep you awake and singing those tunes long after all your passengers have fallen asleep.

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