How Much Will It Cost You To Balik Kampung To Vote

GE15 travel expenses

Malaysians from these six states; Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan will return to the polls on 12th August for the State elections. As is usually the case, many of us have our polling stations back in our hometown – despite residing elsewhere in the country.

While it is not impossible for most of us to find the funds to pay for a weekend back home to do our civic duty, it’s still an additional expense that’s not in our monthly budgets. So we asked ourselves, how much more do we need to spend this month to include this extra trip back home?

First, let’s clarify what expenses we are including in this cost breakdown. We assume that accommodation is not an expense as you are likely to have somewhere to stay. So, the only cost we’re going to include here will be transportation costs, such as petrol and tolls and bus/airplane tickets.

Additionally, we are not including the additional transportation costs associated with not driving; such as calling a Grab or taxi to the airport.

North and south destinations

Okay so to start our cost breakdown, let’s have a look at the costs of going back to your hometown if your hometown is located in the north.

Starting pointDestinationFuel expenses (estimate)Toll expensesBus tickets (cheapest)Airplane tickets (cheapest)
Kuala LumpurPerlisRM47.15RM35.50RM90RM316
Kuala LumpurPenangRM34.85RM35.50RM80RM307
Kuala LumpurJohorRM32.08RM38.54RM50RM343

Here’s the cost breakdown for all the most popular destinations in the north and south parts of Malaysia. Unsurprisingly, the most expensive trip is if you’re making your way from Johor to Perlis, which is a whopping 824 kilometres. If you’re driving, the trip will cost you around RM80.05 in fuel (calculated using a MyVi’s fuel consumption, because MyVi is the most popular car in Malaysia) and RM74.51 in tolls. 

This means that the total cost of the trip will be RM154.56, which is cheaper than travelling by bus (RM163) or flight (RM444). However, the trip will be taxing on your body as it is going to be 9 hours 16 minutes drive. You also have to consider the strain on your car if you’re going to drive it that long, which means that it will probably need a service before the trip to avoid the risk of it breaking down during the drive.

Meanwhile, for the other destinations, almost all of them are cheaper if you’re driving compared to taking the bus and flights, except for from Kuala Lumpur to Johor, where a bus is the cheapest option.

The east coast

Now that we’ve covered the north and south, let’s have a look at destinations on the east coast. On the east coast, the most popular voting destinations are Kelantan and Terengganu, so we’re going to cover only these two destinations.

Starting pointDestinationFuel expenses (estimate)Toll expensesBus tickets (cheapest)Airplane tickets (cheapest)
Kuala LumpurKota BharuRM43.05RM29.46RM68RM507
Kuala Lumpur Kuala TerengganuRM45.10RM43.27RM67.60RM398
JohorKota BharuRM69.70RM9.68RM116RM808
Johor Kuala TerengganuRM55.31RM9.68RM96.8RM513

For destinations on the east coast, again, it’s not surprising to see that the trip from Johor to Kelantan is the most expensive one, especially on the flight tickets as it’s a whopping 710 kilometres trip. However, some of you might be surprised by the low toll rates, but this is because there are no tolled roads on the trip.

All in, even by driving or taking the bus,  travelling expenses alone will cost over RM300 or almost RM1000 if you choose to fly. Add to that incidental costs for getting to the polling centre, food or meeting up with friends and family if you are back home and that may add another RM100 to M200 to your balik kampung expenses, excluding room and board!

Peninsular Malaysia – East Malaysia

If your home town is in East Malaysia and you work in Peninsular Malaysia or vice versa, the option to drive all the way home is off the table for you.

You have to start with the fixed cost of a flight. The average one-way fare is about RM300 or higher as the date draws closer.

Another added cost that you’d want to consider is the land travel cost. Due to the fact that the whole of East Malaysia only has three International Airports, you might have to take a bus from the airport to your hometown. The bus trip can cost up to RM75 one way. This brings the minimum cost close to RM800 for the return trip in travelling expenses alone!

Even for a salaried executive, that additional RM800 is a big hole in the monthly budget so imagine how costly it will be for a student who is still in university or young graduates who have just started working.

Resources to help you go back and vote

While it can be expensive for you to go back and vote, what are your alternatives? Don’t worry, because of the goodwill and the sense of community among Malaysians, there are several initiatives that can help you go back to your hometown to vote.

  • Government Subsidised Flights – The government recently announced an initiative to subsidise up to RM300 on the purchase of domestic flight tickets for public university students in Malaysia, so if you are a student then your flight tickets will be a lot cheaper.

Although you might think that the State Elections might not be as big and as glamorous as the General Election, it actually affects you more than you think. The State Elections determine your state assemblyman, who will be responsible for concerns that are closer to you and your home. 

So, even though it can be costly and challenging, try and make the trip to your hometown and vote. Remember, your vote matters more than you think.

For your information
Not sure where you’re supposed to vote? No worries! You can check your polling station right here.
This article was first published in November 2022 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness

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