The Ultimate Balik Kampung Guide: Tips And Hacks

balik kampung traffic jam

It’s that time of the year again, “baaaaalik kampung!” 

We’re sure you’re looking forward to the long break where you get to see your family and close friends again. Not only do you get a well-deserved break from work, but you also get to show off your baju raya, indulge in delicious food, and bask in the joy and laughter of your family members.

But before all that, you need to weather the balik kampung trip – which can be quite stressful. Before anything else, you have to mentally prepare yourself for the crazy traffic. Then there’s also a long checklist of other things that need to be sorted before you can leave your home for a good five to seven days.

Here’s a few tips and hacks to make your balik kampung trip a little less stressful this year:

1) Check the essentials

Safety always comes first. Don’t just pack up and leave. Make sure you store all your valuables in a safe place. Lock all windows and doors. Unplug all switches and turn off all appliances.

Remember to fully charge your phone as you will need it during the trip – whether you’re driving, flying, or taking the bus or train. Bring your chargers along too.

Make sure your Touch N Go card is reloaded so you can breeze through the toll gates. The last thing you want is to queue up at the “Tambah Nilai” lane during the festive season, which will probably have an insane line and take precious time out of your travel. Make sure you also have enough cash for food, drinks, or anything else that you might need.

Before you leave, let your neighbour or close friend know that you’ll be away so they can help to watch your home.

2) Pack some snacks and drinks

This is so important – especially if you’re travelling with kids. No matter how early you leave, you cannot escape the prospects of a traffic jam. But you can do is ease the process.

It might take a while for you to get to the nearest R&R, so make sure to pack some light food like chips or sandwiches. It’s also important to stay hydrated during your journey, but remember to carefully plan your bathroom breaks!

3) Save on petrol and toll expenses 

The major money drainers during balik kampung will most likely be petrol and toll expenses.

The prices of petrol and tolls are beyond our control, but we can try to optimise our expenses in both areas to get maximum returns. With the right cards, you can do just that.

There are a number of petrol credit cards out there that can make the most out of your petrol spending. With the right card for your usage, you can get substantial cash backs, reward points and other value-added benefits when you make petrol purchases.

It is also important to note that the way you are driving can help you achieve optimal gas mileage. By driving sensibly, observing the speed limit, and reducing unnecessary weight can ensure efficient fuel economy for your journey.

Not only will it keep you safe but it’ll help you avoid getting recorded by the AES which can slap you with hefty penalties which will easily negate all your money saving efforts!

Pro tip

Download the Setel app so you can pay for your fuel without getting out of your car. All you have to do is key in the petrol pump number and pay for the amount of petrol you need – it’s that easy! As of now, this app only works at Petronas.

You also get cash back with petrol purchases using Setel at selected stations.

4) Keep your Waze on 

It is always best to plan ahead whenever the journey is a long one, particularly during major celebrations. With terrible traffic congestion, possible road accidents and high costs to be incurred, the trip back home can be very exhausting.

Take some time to organise and familiarise yourself with alternative routes before hitting the road.  Make sure to use navigation apps like Waze and get alerted to an upcoming traffic jam or accidents – and then navigate your journey through shorter and faster routes.

Saving precious minutes (and sometimes hours) on the road also mean saving precious fuel on your journey.

5) Book your tickets early!  

If you are opting for other modes of transportation such as buses, planes or trains, you should always look out for promotional offers earlier. There are usually promotions during festive seasons and Hari Raya is no exception. Always purchase your tickets or place your bookings early to avoid paying for expensive last-minute tickets or worse, not getting a place at all!

Although you have to purchase your ticket in advance, some of these options can be cheaper than driving back to your hometown – saving on parking, fuel and tolls. You’ll also be able to save time and energy too as you’ve avoided the hassle of driving yourself.

If you are taking the flight home, which is quickly becoming popular these days with the emergence of budget airlines, you can compare flight tickets to find one that suits your travel preferences and budget. Sites like Skyscanner and Google Flights make comparison easy, and will even keep you updated when prices become more affordable.

Another less considered option is to carpool. If you are travelling alone and coincidentally, you know some acquaintances who are heading the same direction, why not tag along with them and offer to split the costs? Definitely, you would be able to save on time, money and energy, and if you ever got stuck in traffic, you have your friends as company.

6) Get a mechanic to look at your car 

One of the main things that you need to give attention to is your car if you are driving. No doubt, car services can be pricey these days, but it is not something you want to compromise on. It’s better to spend a few extra hundred ringgit now than to be stranded on the highway with an overheated engine or a tire burst.

Better safe than sorry!

Make sure you have the PLUS emergency contact number 1800-88-0000 saved on your phone in case your car does experience some problems on the highway.

With these handy tips and hacks, you will be able to cut down some costs and have a seamless balik kampung experience.

Have a safe journey and a memorable Raya back at home!

This article has been updated on April 8, 2024.

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