Essential tips for a road trip to Cape Town

Given our diversity of coastal, country, arid and mountainous landscapes to explore, a road trip is always a good idea. But like any travel; it offers up the equal possibility of unpredictability and unforgettable adventure. Being prepared is essential; it’s easier to be spontaneous when you have well-laid plans to fall back on. Here are a few essential tips ahead of your road trip to Cape Town.

Less is More

When it comes to road trips, less is always more. Yes, we all desire to squeeze as much sightseeing into our allotted travel time; but this means returning home exhausted and not being able to see much of the town you’ve stopped in. So, choose the quality of exploration over the number of stops. Once you’ve chosen your stops, leave time to explore at leisure. Stroll through the town, pop into local eateries and hike or bike through the surrounding areas.

2-Night Stay Minimum

While a rolling stone gathers no moss; it also doesn’t get much relaxation or opportunity to smell the freshly-brewed coffee. Even 2 nights at one place means that you only have one full day to go adventuring as both arrival and departure days are spent driving. If time is on your side, 3-night stays hit the sweet spot. You’re armed with two full non-travel days to get familiar with a place AND more importantly schedule in relaxation time. But definitely no less than 2 nights per stay.

Limit Driving Distance with Kids

Ensure sanity and peace prevail on your road trip with kids by limiting daily driving distances. Even with a tablet (with their favourite offline videos saved), ample snacks, endless ‘I spy’ rounds and sing-along songs; there’s only so much time young children can spend strapped into their car seats.

Schedule enough stops along the way for bathroom breaks, leg stretching and playground time. Plan your route past petrol stations with play areas and allow ample time for running, climbing and the general opportunity for them to tire themselves out. Aim to ‘put foot’ during nap times and keep fun stops for when they’re at their most energetic.

A Sprinkle of Spontaneity and a Dollop of Planning

No one wants to arrive in a town at dusk only to discover there’s no room at the lonely inn. Try booking your accommodation in advance so you have some idea of where you’ll lay your head to rest then allow for spontaneous exploring by day.

Safety first

During pandemic times, aim to make fewer petrol stations/restaurant stops. When you do stop to use high-foot traffic stores and public restrooms; don’t forget to pop on a mask and have sanitiser on-hand for after you’ve swiped your card for snacks or for petrol. While sharing one car for a road trip is cost-effective and more convenient; you want to remain mindful of added risk when increasing the number of passengers in a small space. Don’t forget to check the oil and water in your vehicle and ensure you have the number for roadside vehicle assistance on hand.

A few tips from Aroundaboutcars and its partners:

Aroundaboutcars and its partners take the utmost care when preparing a vehicle. Thoroughly sanitized from top to bottom inside and out with special attention paid to all parts that are likely to be touched. Once the paperwork is done, the inspection of the vehicle is vitally important.

Ensure you check the following:

  • All 4 tyres and spare. If unhappy about the tread, ask for a replacement vehicle.
  • The body, including the roof and take photos of any dents, scratches etc.
  • The tyre rims or hubcaps and take photos.
  • Ensure fuel gauge shows full.
  • All interior surfaces clean and no seat stains.

Tips for the open road:

  • Try to travel the backroads. Less traffic and real quaint villages and wonderful locals.
  • Keep left and always move over to the left to allow faster vehicles to overtake.
  • Support small local businesses.
  • Make use of informal car guards and offer a tip afterwards.
  • Try to hide all luggage and if possible get an upgrade to a sedan.
  • The best tip is ALWAYS to get your partner to drive, more scenery watching and tasting our fabulous wines for you!

Header image by Taryn Elliott


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Cape Town Tourism is the city of Cape Town's official Regional Tourism Organisation, responsible for tourism marketing, visitor and industry services.

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