While browsing through the blogs and articles about South Africa, I decided that writing a short piece on travelling in South Africa not only as a local girl but also as an avid traveller, like you, dear reader. If you are a South African like me, I have tried to write useful tips and tricks that are essential for any traveller, domestic or international. Of course, South Africa is diverse so it is difficult to write a specialised tips and tricks for travelling in the many areas you can.
South Africa is quite large and should not be underestimated so perhaps a future blog post specific to Cape Town, Durban, Kruger National Park should follow. Let us call this a work in progress then. Either way, here are a handful of tips to travel effectively in South Africa:
Carry a Little Cash
This may seem like an obvious tip if you are going to another country or province, however, I think this tip is quite important. While traveling by car, it is essential to remember that we have tolls in South Africa and it can be easier to use cash. The tolls range in price from a few Rands to ten, twenty and sometimes more. It’s best to be prepared in this circumstance as sometimes card facilities are not available. The major roads and/or highways in South Africa have periodic petrol stations and these often have ATMs so if you happen be running low, check out the petrol stops on your route.
Another place to have a little card prepared is for markets and farm stalls. In 2018, there are many stalls at morning, farmer’s and night markets who do have card facilities but I have found myself in a situation where a lovely stall owner does not have a card machine and I am running around looking for an ATM frantically. As for the more rural parts of South Africa where farm stalls and small town curiosity shops are more common, card facilities can be scarce.
I would suggest keeping only R200 (a mere 3 dollars or 2.5 Euros) in your wallet and keep other cash somewhere else such an inner pocket or some other inconspicuous place. Card facilities are everywhere in the cities and towns so you needn’t be too worried about the card payments.
Don’t Always Follow Google Maps
I have taken many a trip which started out with me checking out the route and thinking, “Why would it make me go through there?” Google Maps definitely cannot tell if an area is safe or the best place to travel or even has the best roads to travel. Ending up on a dirt road with no other cars and in the bush with no site in end can be unnerving.
I would suggest a little reading up about routes before travelling would be good. Even better would be to ask your hotel concierge or hostel desk about the routes you are choosing. South Africans are very friendly and happy to help so if you are in a mall, you could also stop by a tourism or information desk.
Research, research, research
This trick is also an obvious one but important. It follows on from the last point. Buying a travel guide or scouring the web for blog posts on the areas you want to go would be a good idea. South Africa has many websites to read up on but ours is wonderful for concise information.
We also have a Live Chat so if you have any questions, feel free to drop us a line. I would suggest you look up the area around where you want to go or even the restaurants. We have fantastic food all over the country. South Africa is a feast for the eyes and the stomach!
Speaking of eating, you may have a strict budget or just prefer to eat in some of your trip. If this is true, we have a few local grocery stores that sell great produce. For a strict budget, I would suggest the Checkers supermarket, the fruit and vegetables are great, meat is mostly locally produced, there are supplies for any traveller and there is a prepared food section.
If you are looking for something familiar and slightly pricier, Spar is a good way to go. They often have a great selection of the city’s fresh produce. You can select treats from smaller businesses and there is often a larger prepared food selection ranging from sandwiches to Lasagne.
My last option is Woolworths. Personally, this is my go-to if I am not thinking too much about budget. They have some fantastic grab-n-go food as well as the usual suspects in grocery stores. The brand itself is working to be conscious of every person’s needs. Gluten-free? They have a good range. Sugar-free, they have a selection. Want some great South African wine for a night in? There is always a broad range to browse (the bigger ‘Woolies’, as we call it, have a clothing range that has never failed me).Speak to the Locals
This is my golden tip for travelers that I try to do when traveling in my country. Talking to the locals in wherever you are is essential. South Africans are friendly and conversational. They will tell you the best local spots for eating and shopping. They will tell you to go to a place and tell the person there that they sent you. You will be treated wonderfully as well because of this. In the smaller towns, people are even happier to answer any questions. They will ask you where you are from, where you are going and what you love so far about our beautiful country.
Bonus Tip: Car Hire, Book Flights and Planning to go to South Africa
I must say again that Tours Africa does have comprehensive pages to book flights, car hire and even a page for information on South Africa. Our blog posts are also a great place to browse for information and again, our Live Chat is available from 08:00 to 17:00 from Monday to Friday for you to ask anything about travelling South Africa. We are certainly happy to help!
That’s it for now but look forward for blogs to follow for specific cities in South Africa and tips about them. We have much more to cover!
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