Tips when going on a road trip towards the Northern Philippines

Updated Jul 19, 2018 | Same topic: Survive driving in the Philippines

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If you are working or residing in Manila one great way to escape the hustle and the bustle of city life is to go out of town and enjoy the province even for just a few days. Going on a road trip with either close friends, office mates or family members seems like to be an appealing idea especially during summer time where you can take to opportunity to bask and surf on some of the most popular beach resorts in the Northern part of the country such as in San Juan, La Union up to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

San Juan road

Colorful beauty in San Juan

Going on a road trip especially if in large groups can save you a lot of money in terms of accommodation and transportation costs. Instead of shouldering the cost alone you can split it up among your group. If travelling in big groups it is recommended to drive or rent a van so everybody would be comfortable on the road and can make pit stops as often as you want.

Embarking on a road trip seems to bring excitement to everyone in the group but it is also important to make the necessary preparations before leaving Manila to make sure that everyone will enjoy the entire trip and make it worth remembering.

Below are some effective tips on how to plan a successful Northbound road trip:

1. Clean your vehicle

Before going on the planned road trip make sure that your car pays a visit to the car wash shop. Nobody wants to ride a dirty car, so you have to make sure that all trash that has accumulated from coffee shops and fast food joints, chips and soda bottles are properly disposed of. Put a garbage can inside the car so everybody should know where to dispose of their trash.

A trash bin located inside the car to keep it clean

Dispose all of your trash properly during stopovers.

2. Check your car thoroughly for any persisting issues

One of the greatest fear of any driver is to encounter any kind of car trouble along the expressways specifically NLEX and TPLEX which is more than a hundred kilometer stretch. The most common issues that vehicles encounter are as follows: Flat tire, Overheating and worn out brake pads. Although roadside assistance is available to rescue you it would still cost you money to tow the vehicle to the nearest exit point of a nearby town.

Not to worry there are patrol cars regularly roaming and always ready to be of assistance. It is the car owners responsibility to bring the car to either a service center or a trusted mechanic to check fluid levels, brakes, tire condition, transmission, battery and other things that can cause you bigger problems in the future.

>>> Click to find more tips to survive driving in the Philippines

3. Plan the trip ahead of time

If you are planning to drive from Manila to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte then you must understand that this is going to be a very long drive. The calculated distance is approximately 558 kilometers or a 12-hour drive including stopovers. You also have the option to head on the Northern provinces of Cagayan and Isabela and take the opportunity to visit great tourist spots and enjoy good food in each province.

Always be considerate to the driver by assigning a secondary driver to take over. We want to prevent accidents from happening because the driver fell asleep on the road. Plan your stopovers accordingly by writing down your itinerary. There are a couple of gas stations along NLEX where you could safely park your car and rest for a couple of hours.

4. Fuel Up

Needless to say, it is important that your car does not run out of gas wherever you may decide to go. Just a tip: The farther you drive the more expensive gasoline and diesel prices are.

Car passing by the gas station to add more fuel.

Always make sure that you have more than enough fuel

5. Check your radiator

Fill your radiator with either a coolant or water to prevent the car from overheating. One of the reasons why the car overheats is because the car runs very fast especially when driving on the expressways plus the temperature tends to get very humid and you are using the cars’ air con at the same time so the car engine is having a hard time working. Do not forget to check on the temperature gauge while driving to prevent the vehicle from overheating,

6. Prepare the necessary tools and electronics

It is important that we have emergency tools at the back of the vehicle so you would have something to use if the need arises. Prepare for a toolbox, wrench, jumper cables just in case something goes wrong. (coolant, brake fluid, flashlights, etc). These will come handy in case you encounter engine trouble in the middle of a road trip. The most important electronic gadget you have is your cellular phone, just make sure to store the important number you might need.

7. Tire check

Check the tires if they have the right tire pressure (most gas stations offer these service for free) and if the wheels are still in good condition. Make sure that you have spare tires in case you experience a flat tire on the road. If it happens on the expressway all you have to do is drive safely towards the edge of the road and turn on your hazard lights before changing the flat tire.

If you have an early warning device better have it up a few meters before your car to warn other motorists that you are there. In case you don’t know how to change a flat tire call the 911 hotline and tell the operator about your location and situation and they will be sending someone to rescue you.

Always check for tire pressure especially during long drives.

Checking your tire pressure is important especially during long drives.

You can also join or get a membership on your local roadside assistance club, this is perfect if you are a frequent traveler because you will have access to their exclusive toll-free number that immediately connects you to their accredited towing services and mechanics which will save you from a lot of hassle. You pay for the annual membership for a certain price but its worth it because they charge a lower rate compared to getting help from unaccredited towing services.

8. Do frequent stopovers

Stopovers are very much recommended for travellers out there. You can stop by on convenience stores to buy some snacks to enjoy on while on the road and freshen up during a bathroom break.

As much as possible it would be nice if you don’t rush and just take your time during the road trip. Make a list of the places that your group wants to visit along the way. There are a lot of beautiful old churches and historical places that you could visit. Don’t forget to take pictures and buy some souvenirs. Almost every town has something special to offer and see so it would be nice to make a list of those places and visit them one by one.

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Liza Campos

Liza Campos


Majoring in Physical Therapy during College, Liza started her career as a Sales Assistant and then joined Philkotse since 2018 as a freelance writer. She loves to challenge herself in different fields, just as much as how she loves travelling.

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