Some travellers enjoy planning their trip almost as much as they enjoy the trip itself. They love spending long evenings mapping out routes, reading travel guides and fine-tuning budgets down to the last cent. Meanwhile, other travellers’ trip planners include just one item: pack toothbrush.
Whether you’re an organisational genius who doesn’t leave home without a folder full of spreadsheets and checklists or a carefree gypsy who’d prefer not to plan a thing in advance, we’ve picked out five things that should always be included in your road trip planner for South Africa. You might also want to consider car rental South Africa for affordable means of travelling.
1. Work out the distances you’re going to travel.
Knowing how far you’re going to travel each day – and in total – should be an essential part of any trip planner for South Africa.
Once you know how many kilometres you’re going to drive, you can work out how much you’ll need to spend on fuel. This will depend on what kind of vehicle you’ll be driving, but your car hire company can advise you on the vehicle’s fuel consumption per kilometre beforehand. South Africa is a big country and road trips can require covering vast distances, so don’t underestimate the importance of working out your fuel budget beforehand.
If you know how many kilometres you’ll need to cover each day, you can also work out how many hours you’ll be spending behind the wheel. Plan your days accordingly: schedule an early start on days when you have further to go to ensure that you arrive at your next stop before dark. It’s also a great idea to scout out good spots to stop for lunch or fill up on fuel.
This nifty distance chart is a useful tool for your trip planner for South Africa.
2. Budget for those unexpected extras.
Once you’ve got the big budget items sorted – like car hire, fuel, accommodation and meals – don’t forget to budget for a few unexpected extras. Things like souvenirs, entrance fees, toll roads and splashing out on the odd fancy dinner all add up.
3. Check the calendar for public holidays or special events.
It’s a good idea to check whether your road trip coincides with any special events or public holidays in South Africa. Public holidays might affect your trip in a couple of ways; shops might close early, congested traffic might slow you down and beaches, national parks and cultural centres will most likely be unusually crowded.
If your road trip does coincide with a public holiday, find out if the town you’ll be visiting is planning any special events. If there’s going to be a local parade or festival, incorporate this into your trip planner for South Africa and embrace the opportunity to get a taste of some local culture.
4. Make sure that you’ve got any contact details you might need.
Keep important phone numbers, emails and addresses together. This includes the contact details of the guesthouses you’re staying at, the shark cage diving operator and the little Mexican restaurant your friend recommended. Keep your booking details on hand too, especially any special booking codes or references. This way, if you’re running late or lost, you can call ahead and make sure that you don’t lose your booking.
5. Pick out one top attraction in each town.
As seasoned travellers know, you don’t always manage to squeeze in all the activities and sights enthusiastically listed on your trip planner. Rushing through a tightly scheduled day can be exhausting, so while you should certainly try to make the most out of each day on the road, highlight just one ‘unmissable’ activity for each destination in your trip planner for South Africa. Then, if you are just too tired to visit the museum and the botanical gardens and go horse riding and zip lining all in one day, you can just do the top one and scrap the rest. Remember, you’re supposed to be relaxing.