The fuel price hike doesn't have to kill your road trip dreams: How to save when driving long distances

2019-04-03 06:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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Every South African's wallet collectively clutched its hearts when the fuel price hiked up again today - potentially dashing hopes for a proper Easter holiday and increasing the appeal of a staycation.

While it means you'll have to tighten your budget, it doesn't mean your holiday time has to suffer. Consider more home-cooked meals and snacks and less splurging on padstal food, for one.

SEE: 14 Tips for turning that end-of-year holiday into a reality

But how can one cut down on the most costly expense - fuel?

There are various ways to lessen your fuel consumption and increase your budget, you just have to drive smartly and not be susceptible to any Fast and the Furious notions when on the open road.

With these tips all you need now is to decide who to take with you and brush up on the shotgun rules. 

ALSO SEE: Your budget-friendly guide to three days in Dubai

How to beat the fuel price hike

Speeding will kill your budget

The most obvious tip is to take it slow down the Garden Route or the Midlands, and not be tempted to push it to the edge of the speed limit. According to Wheels24, just reducing your speed to around 20km/h could in many instances save 20% of your fuel consumption.

Keep your tyres in check

What may be less obvious is that your tyres can have an impact on your fuel consumption. Always check that your tyres are inflated properly and that the wheel alignment is correct.

Managing director Greig Hains from MotorVaps says that underinflated tyres and incorrect wheel alignment not only increases the risk of a burst tyre, but also increases  the resistance between your car’s tyres and the road, which in the end uses up more fuel.

SEE: When someone calls shotgun: Car etiquette for road tripping to hell 


Aircon and open windows can be a petrol guzzler

While it may be difficult to survive the hotter places in SA without aircon, it is still a big fuel guzzler and having it on full blast on a 6-hour road trip will mean more petrol stops.

Ration the times it's on, and having a quick blast of cool air from open windows to cool everything down is also better than having your aircon on.

Don't overpack

The heavier the load, the more fuel your car will use. While we're not saying you need to lose a few kilograms, your holiday baggage could definitely do with a 'diet'.

Pack as light as possible, and be economical with your space - that set of beach boules that you always take but never use can be left at home.

SEE: Travel List Printables: Prep like a pro for your next road trip

Don't idle and lose the cruise control

Stopping at all those quick pit stops for toilet breaks and snack top-ups does not mean you have to be a getaway car, idling and ready to go when everyone's back inside.

Switch the engine off whenever you stop, and while you're at it keep your hand off the Cruise Control button - it's well-documented that even though it's useful on the long roads, it guzzles a lot of fuel to keep the car at a constant speed.

You'll just have to drive the old-fashioned way if you want to save bucks.

Take the Shosholoza Meyl

If you still feel like the budget is getting too rough but you still want to have that road trip experience and see the country, why not hop onto a Shosholoza Meyl train?

It's cost-effective and no one has to be the designated driver. Most trips between cities take around 2 days, and the cheap tourist class gives you a bed to sleep in making for an extra-special experience.

SEE: Is it cheaper to travel by bus, train or plane in SA? 


But where should you go?

From the mother of all SA road trips between Joburg and Cape Town, across the lengths and breadths of the West CoastRoute62, the iconic Garden Route to the lesser-explored tracts of the Free State – if you’ve not had time to plan something epic for the upcoming Easter holiday – we’ve got a few easy suggestions to save you. 

Wild Coast

What better way to kick say goodbye to the warmer seasons than with a road trip along South Africa's untamed coastline? 

Brimming with activities, this coastal route is sure to tickle and wet the palate of any nature and adventure lover with itchy feet.

Read more here.

Garden Route

Here's what you can get up to along South Africa's breathtaking Garden Route.

There are plenty of fun festivals lined up for families looking for some entertainment. For those looking to trawl through some markets - the Garden Route has got you covered, or you can even get wild with their spectacular hikes or catch some last rays on one of its many beaches.

Read more here. 

Sunshine Coast

It's time to chase the sun in South Africa, and where better than to chase it all the way to its homeland on the Eastern Cape shores of the Sunshine Coast.

From Tsitsikamma up to East London where the Wild Coast starts, you can surf, sunbathe, swim, canoe, hike and explore the little nooks and crannies of a quiet coast where the crowds are less dense, with Port Alfred at its heart.

Read more here. 

West Coast

If you thought a route down the West Coast is pretty straightforward, you'll be surprised to find that it actually has enough twists and turns to have your holidays and weekend breaks sorted for years! 

With Cape Town as your starting point, the West Coast Way is made up of 6 routes, creating easy itineraries depending on what you're looking for - and they all overlap! 

Read more here. 


Best pit stops

When it comes to travelling to a destination holiday, nothing is more important en route than the pit stop; not only for your children to stretch their legs, but for you to regain your sanity.

South Africa boasts pit stop experiences in its purest form that are sure to thrill your little Blaze and the Monster Machine fan. These motor wonder-worlds can be found from KZN to Cape Town.

Read more here.

Dorpies of Overberg

If you’ve already been to Cape Town and you’re currently planning another Easter vacation in and around the Mother City, then do yourself a favour – get a car, gather your favourite travel buddies, pack some padkos and head out on the road to the Cape Overberg region.

And while this area is most renowned for its quirky dorpieswhale-watching spots, shark-cage diving adventures and laid-back lifestyle, there’s so much more to explore in Overberg’s coastal and inland towns.

Read more here. 

Road tripping for the hops

When a Castle or a Windhoek isn't enough to satisfy your beer cravings, we are lucky enough to have access to a growing craft beer industry that will make you spoilt for choice - if you find yourself in a province with a healthy brewing scene that is.

Many travel to the Cape winelands specifically to taste their way through their vineyards, so why wouldn't you travel to hop your way through South Africa's independent brew scene.

Read more here.  

Northern Cape

What you see are sand and stones, but scratch the surface and you will find so, so much more in this forgotten corner of our country. 

Although this is not one of the top tourist destinations in SA, the Northern Cape is a rough and largely undiscovered diamond, waiting to be explored.

Read more here. 


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