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Hints for Dealing With Jakarta's Traffic

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One of the greatest problems that Jakarta residents have to face is dealing with the heavy traffic as we go about our daily activities. Below are a few hints to help you get the best out of a bad situation.

  • Choose the best time to go out - if possible schedule your appointments to avoiding peak hours, and for office workers an early start will help you beat the worst of the traffic. You can always eat breakfast at the office!
  • If you are going to an unfamiliar destination, check the street directory and tell your driver the address in advance so that he can plan the best route in order to avoid the worst traffic jams.
  • Ask your driver to tune the radio in to Elshinta (FM 90.05) or Radio Sonora (FM 100.9) to keep abreast of the latest traffic situation. People call in to these stations to inform about traffic jams, traffic accidents, etc.
  • One key to avoiding traffic is to have a knowledgeable driver. One who knows the short cuts and alley ways of Jakarta will be able to save you a lot of time stuck in traffic. Encourage your driver to talk to other drivers about which routes and shortcuts they take to avoid traffic.
  • If you have young children and you are not accompanying them when your driver is taking them to or from school, have a maid accompany the children in the car. The person accompanying will be able to address the children's needs in case the driver has to change a tire or deal with some other traffic or unforeseen emergency situation. Also, some families choose to have their children not travel alone with the male driver, but be accompanied by a female or another female household staff member at all times.
  • Plan to enjoy the time that you spend on the road by keeping some CDs of your favorite music in the car. There are also books and study programs such as Indonesian language lessons as well as children's stories available on audio CDs or Pod Broadcasts. You may even be able to watch a DVD in your car. With a good internet connection, some use the time as an opportunity to take an online course.
  • Consider the time that you spend caught in traffic as an opportunity to make some phone calls from your handphone or even do some work on your laptop. Be aware, however, that handphone theft from cars stopped at traffic lights does occur, so it's best to only use your phone while the car is moving.
  • If you like to read in the car, keep a variety of magazines or books in the seat pocket to fill in your time. Many use the morning commute to read the newspaper as well.
  • Consider the time that you spend in a traffic jam as an opportunity to relax, meditate, plan your day, or even to take a nap, especially on the drive home after a long day's work.
  • Always keep a supply of water or other drinks in the car. It's a good idea to have an insulated cooler bag to keep drinks cool and to bring along some snacks or fruit for your children.
  • If you have a baby, keep a supply of bottled baby food, some diapers and wet tissues in the car, and for older children some books or toys.
  • Make your car as comfortable as you can with extra cushions, a light blanket or a reading light in the back seat.
  • Rather than leave from home in the midst of daily traffic hours, leave early and stop by a fitness center that is near your office for your weekly workouts.
  • If you're going to a meeting or social function, consider car pooling with a friend so that you can visit along the way.
  • Another good way to help pass the time is to communicate with your driver. Talking helps a fatigued taxi driver stay awake if he's nearing the end of a 16-hour shift. Communicating with the driver can also help you to learn more Indonesian or even his thoughts on the political situation, police corruption and various current events.
  • If you're running really late for something really important and are stuck in gridlock traffic (and it's not raining) - simply get out of the car or cab and get an ojek to beat the traffic.
  • If all else fails and the traffic is just not moving, rather than sitting in the car fuming over the lost time, why not pull in to the nearest beauty salon and have a relaxing massage, crème bath or manicure for a couple of hours, or the nearest pub and have a few rounds before facing up to the traffic again, or stop and see a movie. With a bit of luck it may even be moving at a faster pace by the time you are done!

An interesting site for traffic reports: Lewat Mana

For information on security-related issues of driving in your car, see Security at Home and Around Town.

Our thanks to Colliers International for their help with this article!

Last updated January 25, 2014

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Practical Information for foreigners, expats and expatriates moving to Indonesia - find out about housing, schooling, transport, shopping and more to prepare you for your stay in Indonesia

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