Road trip tips!!

There are some places in the Malaysia/Thailand area where minivans are the only way to get from one spot to another. To me, “minivan” means captain’s chairs, cool a/c, some good music, and plenty of room. To the Malaysians and Thais, “minivan” means money…how many people can we put in one and still get the luggage in???

So, in the event you are planning to travel from Malaysia to Thailand or vice versa, I thought I would provide some tips. Hopefully you will find them useful on your journey!

Let’s start with pre-trip planning:

1.) Pray – for a driver who does not consistently put his foot on the gas and then lifts it off the gas. This is a recipe for road trip nausea! Pray – you get a seat in the front of the van as this will help with the on and off the gas pedal driver! Pray – you are next to the window and that it has curtains to protect you from the sun. Pray – youย are booked with people from countries who believe in wearing deodorant!

2.) Pack your “with you” bag for the minivan. This bag should include your sarong, some food to munch on including crackers for nausea, your passport as you will need this to check out of one country and into the other, and your i-Pod. What I would NOT suggest is a book – you won’t be able to read it and nothing you read will be nearly as exciting as watching how your driver maneuvers the traffic!

3.) Sarong suggestion – spray it will a little of your perfume. This will come in useful if and when you need to cover your nose. The array of smells you may encounter include the armpits of others in the minivan, miscellenous food smells, and the guys in the back of the van letting out silent farts. I know you’re laughing now, but you won’t be later when you recall these words and wish you had sprayed your sarong with something better to smell! Of course, the sarong will also come in useful if you’ve forgetten to use deodorent, you’re cold, you’re shielding yourself from the sun coming through the window, etc. You simply can’t under estimate the use of a fragrant smelling sarong!

Day of the trip:

1.) Pray – a quick prayer for a safe trip is always a good idea!

2.) Chew on two Bonine or take some Dramimine! This is crucial and if you forget, you will wish you had done more of the first suggestion of praying!!

3.) Make sure you put your rain cover on your backpack. You have no idea where on the van your luggage will end up. Best to be safe rather than end up at your new location with wet gear!

4.) Be on time. However, expect that you will be picked up later than your scheduled time. That is how the program works. There is no sense in using up your valuable energy fighting this system! Save your energy as you will need it later!

5.) Don’t get comfortable in the vehicle that picks you up. Most likely, this lovely minivan with reclining seats, armrests, etc., is NOT the real deal. This driver is merely running you over to the stop where your death trap I mean, real vehicle waits already loaded with other passengers who have picked their prime seating!

6.) Be okay with whatever seat you get. Really folks, it’s one day – if you survive the crazy driving, the smells, the too cold and then too hot a/c,ย  the seat will be the least of your worries!


1.) Remember the sarong – by now you are ready to use it. I hope you sprayed it like I advised yo to do!

2.) The minute you feel the driver stepping on the gas and then releasing, you’ve just made the trip harder on yourself. You will NOT be able to ignore this the rest of the trip! Eat those crackers….if nothing else, it will distract you for a few minutes!

3.) Be prepared for the fact that the minute you open the crackers or pull or your sarong or get settled in for a nap, it will be time to stop the van. This will mostly likely be a smoke/eat/break. However, it could just be the gas stop stop if it comes early in the trip. I’m not sure why there’s no plan to gas up the van before the journey, but apparently both countries believe we would like to see their gas stations!

4.) Be prepared to use your energy for the whole border crossing adventure! This is tedious to say the least. Recognize that no matter which line you are in, it will be the one moving the slowest! Don’t fight it…any of it. It is a necessary evil that we must endure to be travellers! Put on your best smile, be sorry to be leaving one country and happy to be entering the next. Be grateful you have this opportunity to endure this process – many others don’t get this chance to have this much fun in one day!

5.) Recognize this will NOT be the last of your adventures! You will mostly likely get to change minivans once again! You will have no choice of seat, will have to learn the driving skills (if you want to call them that) of the next driver, and endure the smells of your new passenger friends!

While all of this may seem quite frustrating, in the end, it’s all okay. It’s one day in your travel life and if you can’t handle it, you probably shouldn’t be travelling. Think of it this way – it’s no different than hopping from plane to plane and enduring the customs and security processes in the airports!

One word of caution – DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES (AND THERE WILL BE MANY), YELL ABOUT YOUR GUIDE’S DRIVING!! This is considered very taboo! You will want to, many times!! Accept the fact that driving in the middle of the road is best because he can see which lanes are most advantageous to him! Go with the flow and if you prayed like I told you to in the beginning…it will all be fine!

Happy travels!!

Oh the things you'll see!


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Becky
    Mar 08, 2012 @ 21:57:01

    Cheri….. this is so hilarious. But with great tips hidden throughout!!!!! What a ride!!!!


    • cheriarnold
      Mar 09, 2012 @ 07:47:31

      Thanks Becky!! It really is a funny journey if you just accept the fact that they will drive CRAZY and in the middle of the road, that it will be a tight squeeze in the van, and that you will be exhausted at the end of the journey. If you can handle all of that, it’s just another day of travel!! ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Nate
    Mar 08, 2012 @ 22:04:30

    You see some pretty amazing packing jobs in foreign countries. I once watched a bicycle try to tow what looked like spools of cotton the size of a semi-truck.


    • cheriarnold
      Mar 09, 2012 @ 07:48:40

      Oh Nate…I was so upset the other day on the journey because you will not believe what I saw….on a scooter…a man hauling a bathtub. Yes, a regular claw-foot bathtub. I didn’t have my camera out and was so peeved…what a photo!! ๐Ÿ™‚


      • Nate
        Mar 09, 2012 @ 07:56:17

        That might win the award. Maybe he was using it as an extremely large helmet…? Or he just really needed a bath. Sometimes I wish I had a helmet cam running all the time to catch such moments.

  3. Travel Spirit
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 06:36:20

    I love your humor Cheri!!


  4. Aunt Sandie
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 17:24:01

    Love this log. I thinking that the bottom line to this blog is teaching a person to be patience, accept the circumstances and making us realize how very spoiled we are here in the USA.


    • cheriarnold
      Mar 09, 2012 @ 18:17:16

      Yes…for sure!! Aunt Sandie, you nailed the bottom line! It’s like I mentioned, it’s no different than travelling thru airports….it just feels different. Part of why it feels different is because, as guests of these countries, travellers respect that this is how THEY run their businesses! It’s not our job to tell them how they can make it better! Our role is to enjoy the differences and respect their way of life – that’s what we came to see! ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. dmotto
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 10:33:03

    Too funny! :0) Thanks for the heads-up!


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