As travel restrictions between provinces ease, many are likely to plan a family trip for the upcoming vacations. It is not surprising that many opt for this means of escape. Rather than international trips that require a long hotel quarantine on return, many provinces across the country will simply check your vaccine card and require a negative RT-PCR test at most.
As further proof, the Baguio Visita website – where tourists must register before planning a trip – has already filled all the slots for the entire holiday season. However, there are still many places in the country where you can go with your family.
If you’re one of the lucky few who got a slot, whether in Baguio or any other scenic destination outside of town, here are some tips to make your trip smooth and hassle-free.
Keep copies of vaccination cards / QR codes
Restrictions may be relaxed, but some areas still retain tighter border controls than others. As such, it is prudent to keep copies of vaccination cards and all relevant QR codes and documents for each passenger easily accessible. The trip to Baguio alone will have you stopping at three checkpoints on the way to the Summer Capital. Having these documents close at hand ensures faster progress through these checkpoints.
Inspect your vehicle in an MVIS
We cannot stress enough the importance of checking your vehicle before a long trip. Several hours of continuous driving at full load can be extremely taxing on any car. If you are not sure what could be wrong with your vehicle, an easy way to find out is to have it inspected at an MVIS center. These complete and fully computerized installations are designed to verify the technical control of a vehicle. The printed report can be a great report on the health of your vehicle and alert you to any potential issues. Plus, if you need to register soon, it’s valid for up to 60 days.
Recharge toll RFIDs before your trip
The cash lane on most toll roads has been a boon for many motorists unsure of their RFID balance. Still, expect those few lanes to lengthen with vacation traffic. To avoid these delays, recharge your RFIDs before your trip. AutoSweep and Easytrip now offer users many ways to top up, even from online portals or certain banks’ phone apps. My favorite is still the payment terminal that can be found in most convenience stores as they often accept payment for both toll operators.
Stay calm while driving
When packed and ready to go, the most important thing is to stay calm behind the wheel. During this season, you will likely be sharing the road with other families who want to escape the city. Packing your bags and leaving at a scheduled time can be quite stressful. As such, expect other motorists to be either in a rush or already behind the wheel with a capillary trigger temperament. Be very patient and respect the highway code.
Do not monopolize the leftmost lane if you are not passing. It is one of the most common sources of road rage among out-of-town drivers. Likewise, be more patient with slower drivers. They are probably more concerned with the safety of their passengers than arriving at their destination earlier, which is exactly the mindset that any designated driver should have.
For those who drive, be honest if you are tired and give up driving when you feel tired. Even closing your eyes for a brief moment is a risky proposition.
If you are a passenger, pay attention to the driver. Avoid playing slow or soothing music which can potentially make the driver drowsy. Keep the driver focused on the road by offering to open bottles or cans for them and even giving them food or candy to keep them alert.
Pandemic or not, road trips are a great escape from the routine. Of course, spontaneity makes things more fun. Still, a little planning and care can make it even more enjoyable and safe.
(The author is the automotive editor of the Manila Bulletin.)
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