Aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa during a sunset

7 Ways To Save Money on Your Self-Drive Trip in South Africa

Self-driving holidays give you the freedom and flexibility to travel how and when you want. They’re also a great option if you need to be frugal. Then there’s the adventure that comes with a good old road trip and the memories waiting to be made.

If you’re planning on hitting the open road on a budget, here’s a list of ways you can save money on your self-drive trip in South Africa.

1. Travel out of Peak Season

When you travel out of peak season, you’ll be able to take advantage of cheaper prices for accommodation and popular attractions. Not only that, you’ll also get to enjoy fewer crowds and less time spent in traffic jams.

South Africa’s diverse destinations mean there’ll always be something to explore, no matter where you go in the country.

2. Plan Ahead

The further ahead you book accommodations, rental cars, and activities, the less you’ll pay. Booking these things at the last minute will often cost more or, worse yet, lead to disappointment if bookings are full.

Vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Plus, planning ahead gives you more time to perfect that epic road trip playlist with your fellow travelers!

3. Shop Smart for Snacks and Don’t Forget The Cooler Box

Buying your snacks at the supermarket and packing food and drinks in a cooler box is much cheaper than shopping on the road. Plus you’ll be getting exactly what you want, and the money you save can be spent on eating out for special occasions on your trip.

4. Download your Maps and Music

Save on data by downloading your maps and playlists before you leave home. An added plus is that you’ll have access to everything in areas where mobile reception is spotty.

Close up of a gps system in a car

Close-up of a GPS in a car

Google Maps makes it easy to switch to offline use, and most music and podcast streaming platforms offer the ability to download albums and episodes.

5. Pick Accommodations With Parking

The cost of secure parking or parking on the street can add up quickly, and then there’s the risk of parking fines too.

Be sure to choose accommodations with dedicated parking spots and find out if they’re free to use or will be added to the cost of your stay. If it’s a reasonable fee, it’s worth it for the added peace of mind.

6. Avoid Rush Hour

If you can, try and not travel when the roads are at their busiest. Stop-and-go traffic is heaviest on your fuel consumption and heavy on your wallet at the same time.

Open road on Chapman's Peak Drive near the Cape Peninsula, South Africa

Open road on Chapman’s Peak Drive near the Cape Peninsula, South Africa

Of course, there’s also the added bonus of saving yourself time and stress if you choose to travel at off-peak times.

7. Fill Up On Free Attractions

South Africa offers travelers a diverse and exciting range of free attractions. Grab a tan or a dip at the beach, go hiking in the mountains, or explore epic drives.

View of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa | Photo credit: Brooke Beyond

View of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa | Photo credit: Brooke Beyond

Here are a few special mentions:

  • Victoria & Alfred Waterfront – shopping, restaurants, and stunning views.
  • Signal Hill – panoramic ocean views and a popular spot for epic sunsets.
  • Knysna Heads – unique geological formations and a good place to have lunch.
  • Boschendal – tour the working farm and do a spot of wine tasting.
  • Cape Agulhas – the southernmost tip of Africa, where two oceans meet.

These are just seven ways you can stretch your budget if you’re planning an affordable road trip in South Africa. Why not use Drive South Africa’s Road Trip Explorer tool to get inspired or add your own adventure when you’re done? Happy travels!

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