What you need to know when you’re planning for that short weekend getaway.
Lots of Singaporeans love driving to Johor (JB) for a weekend of delicious eats and cheap buys. If you’ve made this long trip before, you’ll know what to expect.
However, if you’re attempting it for the first time, or haven’t done it in a while, here are some tips that could save you a lot of money:
1. Make Sure Your Car Insurance Is Valid Outside of Singapore
The most common mistake, when driving to JB from Singapore, is failing to check whether your car insurance will be valid. Singaporeans have an unfortunate habit of just picking the cheapest option, without checking the car insurance coverage in Malaysia.
If your car breaks down or gets into an accident in JB, and it’s completely un-driveable, you’ll need a tow truck. If your insurance doesn’t cover this cost, you might have to pay for towing all the way back to Singapore. This can cost a small fortune, so make sure you’re covered before you go.
2. Observe the Three-quarter Tank Rule
Singapore-registered vehicles that are being driven out of the country must have their petrol tanks at least three-quarters full, with the exception of diesel vehicles.
You may have gotten some dodgy advice, such as “sneak past on a quarter-tank, and then top up your petrol in Malaysia where it’s cheaper”.
Don’t do this. If you’re caught with too little petrol, you will be told to drive back to Singapore, and top-up your tank before you can leave. In addition, you can be fined up to S$500 for ignoring this law.
Also, don’t forget the risk of your car running out of petrol, and being stranded in the middle of a massive causeway jam.
3. Bring Full Water Bottles so You Don’t Have to Buy Liquids
Top up your water bottles and bring them with you. Bring about 1.5 litres per person, and always bring a spare two-litre bottle for clean-ups. This spare bottle will come in handy if you need to wash off spilled snacks, or a mess caused by car sick children.
This will save you having to buy bottled water at rest-stops. And be warned: some businesses are quite aware of their advantageous location (there may not be another rest-stop for several kilometres). You may find absurd prices like S$2 for a small bottle of water.
4. Buy Proper Travel Insurance
Many Singaporeans neglect to buy travel insurance, when driving to JB from Singapore. This is dangerous, as you could be left with no coverage during an accident or a crime.
You should have travel insurance that at least covers hospitalisation costs, as some emergencies require on-the-spot treatment. For example, in the immediate aftermath of a road accident, there may not be time to get you back to Singapore; you may have to be treated at the closest facility.
You also have to consider the possibility that, following an accident, it may not be possible to move you. This will require hospitalisation coverage to minimise steep costs.
Ensure that your travel insurance also covers the costs of medical evacuation. If you need to be transported via emergency services, such as by helicopter because you got injured on an isolated back-road, the cost can be significant.
5. Lower the Limit on Your Credit Cards
Protect yourself from identity theft, while you’re abroad. One basic security measure is to lower the credit limit on your credit cards, such as from four times your monthly income to just S$1,500, or however much you think you’ll spend.
This ensures that, if someone does manage to steal your card, there’s an absolute limit on how much they can spend.
6. Remove the Cash-card from Your Car, or at Least Place It Somewhere Less Prominent, Once You’re in Malaysia
If you don’t want to keep the cash card on your person, then at least keep it in the glove compartment. Don’t tempt thieves by leaving it somewhere visible, such as in the card reader or on the dashboard.
Even if there isn’t much money in the card, it can be expensive to fix a smashed window or a broken car lock. Thieves often get to your card in this manner.
7. Separate Your Money
Don’t give most or all of the money to one person in your group. Likewise, don’t put all the cash in one place, such as a single bag pocket. Spread out the money between family members, and split it up between your wallet, bag, side-pockets, and so forth.
If you are pickpocketed, your bag is stolen, or your car is broken into, this ensures you won’t lose all the money at once.
Try to avoid bringing more than S$250 in physical cash. This is because most travel insurance policies pay out a maximum of S$250 in lost cash (check your policy to ascertain this figure). It is safer to rely on digital transactions, more than physical cash.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.