Come Friday, the country’s national highways will once again be packed as scores of South Africans make their way to various destinations in an attempt to squeeze the last few drops of sweet summer from the rapidly-fading season. A mass exodus from all the major cities on Thursday afternoon will mark the start of the four-day weekend, the sun glinting off the roofs of cars, caravans and Venter trailers like the scales of some gigantic metallic snake coiled along the length of the N3.
Make sure that you get the most out of your long weekend away with these five tips promoting maximum peace of mind.
Inspect your mode of transport
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Nothing puts a damper on holiday festivities faster than car trouble. Not only can it be extremely dangerous getting stranded out in the middle of nowhere (we’ve all seen The Hills Have Eyes and Wrong Turn, haven’t we?), but a breakdown is likely to end up costing you precious time and money that could have been better spent on typical holiday revelry.
Be sure to check the following aspects of your vehicle:
- That your tyres (including the spare) are all in a good condition
- Fluid levels (water, oil, brake fluid)
- That you have enough fuel
- Lights and indicators (including those of your trailer if you are taking one along)
Finally, if your insurance company offers roadside assistance, save the number on speed dial.
Confirm your reservation beforehand
Again, if countless horror movie tropes about cannibalistic families preying on desperate shelter-seekers are anything to go by, the last thing you want is to have to look for last-minute accommodation because your original booking didn’t pan out. Always confirm check-in times and dates a good couple of days before your trip, and be sure to take proof of payment and reservation with you.
Read some online reviews
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In the Information Age, there’s precious little information that can’t be found online, including accounts of previous visitors’ experiences at guesthouses, B & Bs, hotels and resorts. Do yourself a favour and search for ratings and reviews about your intended accommodation. Websites such as Booking.com, Tripadvisor and Lekker Slaap enable you to book directly via the website as well as read reviews. You can really save yourself a world of discomfort and disappointment by doing some online research first. Tried and true!
Check news sites for information about strikes that could affect you
There are a number of ways that your trip could be adversely affected by industrial action. Firstly, if there’s a fuel strike planned, it’s important that you stock up on enough of the stuff to get you to your destination and back. Fill up your tank, fill a couple of cans and keep them in a cool, safe place away from heat and open flames. Secondly, strikes often turn violent, so if you’re travelling through affected areas, you might want to consider a route change.
We all knew we were building up to this point, didn’t we? But concerns about security amount to one of the leading causes of worry during vacations, probably because we are not comfortable with relinquishing control and leaving our homes and possessions unattended for extended periods of time.
But fear not, you don’t have to give up control completely. For example, you can install a GSM device and receive SMS notifications when someone opens your gate, or there’s a power outage back home. Or have a GSM intercom fitted and answer your intercom from anywhere, giving the impression that you’re home. Below we’ve provided some additional security tips:
- Have a friend or neighbour collect your mail
- Check your alarm system before embarking on your trip (a GSM device can also be configured to notify you of alarm events, and it enables you to switch your alarm on and off via SMS text messages from your phone)
- Put outside lights on a day-night switch and set it up so that the lights come on at night (or – you guessed it – just invest in a GSM device! You can also connect lights to your D5-Evo’s light relay and use the gate motor’s onboard timer to automatically switch them on and off. #IntelligenceInMotion)
- Inform your armed reaction company that you’ll be away from home for a while
- Ask someone to maintain your swimming pool while you’re away
- Lock valuables in a safe
- Check that doors, locks and windows are secure