Balik Kampung essentials

Leave the BBQ grill at home! We have our own list of handy things to take with you as you navigate highways and annoying fellow drivers

Making the long drive back to your hometown over the Raya weekend? Road trips are best done with company and being the nosy parkers we are, we have a few suggestions.

Photo credit: Momoc HDR / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Dedicated GPS device

If you're going to make the trek back home then a dedicated GPS device makes sense. With prices starting from RM299, they're not overly expensive and prove worth the investment if you make at least 2-3 road trips a year. You're also spoiled with choice as established brands like Garmin, Papago and TomTom are easily available.

What's most important is the maps - look out for devices that support the popular crowdsourced GPS maps project malfreemaps. The maps are free and frequently updated by the malfreemaps community. Extras like FM transmitters, MP3 and video playback and Wi-Fi are nice but strictly non-essential.

One reason behind in-car device maker Garmin’s popularity is its offering of lifetime free map updates.

 Besides Garmin, there are also great choices from the likes of Papago and TomTom. Here are a few examples of what’s available out there(note: these aren’t official endorsements)

Budget model: Papago WayWay Q4035 GPS Navigator (starts from RM299)

Equipped with Bluetooth,FM transmitter, voice controls and a multimedia (video, MP3, pictures) player.

Tricked-out: Garmin nuvi 3592LM (RM1199.00)

For the price of a cheap laptop, this GPS comes with Wi-Fi, is built on Android and comes with 8GB of flash memory.

In-car recorder

Garmin GDR30

Now why would you want an in-car recorder? They're handy both as evidence in a road accident, or to provide footage for your own personal road trip video. Indie film, anyone?

Some in-car recorders even capture video in full-HD and also come with sensors that can warn you about speed traps or when you're getting too close to the vehicle in front of you.

The Papago P2Pro for instance comes with a 130 degree wide angle lens, 3.5 megapixel low illumination sensor, direct HDMI output and GPS tracking. Prices start from RM649.

Garmin also has the GDR30, retailing from RM460 onwards with a camera that has a 110 degree wide angle and an aperture of F2.0. Weighing only 61.3g, this little device supports SD cards and you can add an optional second camera for dual-camera 720p resolution recording.


GPS apps

Papago GPS app

"But I have an iPhone/Android! Why do I need a standalone device?" If you prefer an app to forking out extra, all power to you.

For Android, there's the free Sygic (link) and Waze (link) Or paid versions by leading GPS brands like, say, Papago (link) for US$29.99 (RM97.69) or TomTom Southeast Asia (link) for US$65.99 (RM214.96).

How would you choose an app? You'd first have to choose one supported by your phone - some apps are pretty resource-intensive so if you have an older smartphone, running the latest GPS apps might be a problem. Crowd-sourced apps like Waze might not necessarily have the best or all possible routes as it relies on its users to provide the information so having a couple of GPS apps as opposed to relying on only one.

Nokia Windows Phone users of course have the HERE service, which is also usable on both iOS and Android. Just don't get annoyed when calls interrupt your GPS navigating.


Ray-Ban aviators

We're going to be Captain Obvious here and remind you: this is a tropical country. Keep the sun out of your eyes and your eyes on the road.

It's a good idea to spend a little more on a sturdier pair, with better UV protection. And as for designs, you can't go wrong with the classic aviator which looks good on pretty much any face unlike the wayfarer. Can't go wrong with the classics!

Traffic & Twitter updates

Want to know how the roads are going to be on your journey? Thanks to the Internet, you can check on traffic via Twitter and dedicated websites.

Jalanow Live Traffic Cameras

Integrated Transport Information System

Twitter accounts

KL Traffic Updates (@kltu)

Astrotraffic (@astrotraffic)

Plus Highway (@plustrafik)