Drive to adventure

by By Hafiz Rasid (hrasid@sph.com.sg)
published on 30 June 2016

Going on a 14-day long road trip from Norway to Finland in April 2014 with her husband and two friends was an eye-opening experience for entrepreneur Marie Choo.

“I have been married eight years, but I discovered a new side to my husband – he is a really good driver. I was too scared to drive on snow-covered roads, even with the tyres fitted with snow chains to prevent skidding,” said Ms Choo.

A road trip can forge a sense of closeness with your travel companions, but the company you are with can make or break the experience, said Ms Choo.

 “It’s important to travel with good friends or like-minded people. I find that our bonds became stronger during the trip, especially at times when we experienced challenges such as driving on icy roads.

“Thankfully we didn’t get lost. The pre-programmed GPS in our saloon car came in handy, and we kept each other company throughout the drive,” she recalled.

Their exciting road adventure included a stop-over at the Hotel Kakslauttanen & Igloo Village in Saarisekelka, Finland, where they got to catch the breathtaking sight of the Northern Lights.

The couple also visited the Santa Claus Village near Rovaniemi in the Lapland region of Finland, and went on a two-hour Arctic safari on husky sled rides in the Finnmark region of northern Norway.

You don’t have to go far to enjoy a great road trip either.

Ms Amanda Tan, a public relations consultant, said a quick three-day road trip to a nearby destination in April 2014 helped her get to know her fiance’s family better. Miss Tan, who was with her fiance, his parents and two sisters, enjoyed the experience very much.

“When you’re on a road trip, we spend long periods of time together in the car.  We got to find out one other’s quirks. We had a blast on the trip.

“I’ve never had lengthy chats with them prior to the trip, so spending that time in a confined area together really gets the conversation going and brought us closer.”

It helps to plan ahead and have the right equipment.

Thanks to the GPS unit that her fiance – and designated driver – bought for the trip, they had no problems getting around.

“Having a road trip these days is much easier to plan with a GPS unit. You don’t have to struggle with reading and following the road map,” she said.

“But as a back-up plan, it is good to apply for a data roam plan for your mobile phone so that you can access the mobile map applications.”

Road trip checklist

Before you set off, check that you have done the following:

1.            Get any major auto-repairs done before your trip to reduce the risk of breakdowns mid journey.

2.            Check your car’s tyres and spare tyres.

3.            Obtain proof of insurance in case of an accident.

4.            Bring handy travel guidebooks with marked places of interest.

5.            Ensure your mobile phone has a data roaming plan.

6.            Get GPS or download a GPS app for navigation.

7.            Keep an emergency kit in your car boot in case of injuries.

8.            Bring cash for establishments that do not accept credit cards.

9.    In case of emergency or car troubles, remember to contact your rental car provider or insurer to connect with the local roadside assistance service provider.