Road tripping can take on many forms. There's the first family road trip that sees the backseats piled full of sleepy kids and pillows for the journey, the extra-organised 4x4 roadies that can take on near expedition proportions with enough adventure to match; and of course, solo-roadsters like to do their thing too.
Either way, a marginal amount of prep is needed, all of which includes ensuring your safety and that you arrive at your destination ready to enjoy your break.
At Traveller24 we are often inundated with tips and advice to make the next road trip, smooth and memorable. We were however curious to know what the most common issues were, arising from insurance claims from road trips.
You know the saying, "Hindsight is 20 20."
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Managing Director at motor warranty underwriters, MotorVaps, Greig Hains says most claims and calls for roadside assistance relate to, remarkably -"running out of fuel" and understandably, "being caught with a flat tyre or battery".
Obviously these three things can be pre-empted by planning your routes and pitstops accordingly, as well as ensuring you do a service and emergency, spare tyre and systems check on your vehicle before hitting the long road.
Hains says, "Plan where you will be filling up with fuel. Ensure that the distances between fuel stations are realistic and attainable.
"Ensure that your car services are up-to-date. Make sure that your car won’t be due for its next service while you are travelling. Remember, failure to service your car on time will affect your warranty. Send it in for a service instead before hitting the road."
He also advises loading up your phone with a list of emergency numbers, including your roadside assistance number.
Do some research on where you can get replacement parts such as spare tyres, batteries. Load some of these numbers to your contact list too."
READ: The 4x4 Guide to a trip of a lifetime
Added to this, Hains suggests the following:
- It is absolutely vital for international travellers to have travel insurance. Don’t skimp on decent cover with a reputable insurer. Ensure adequate medical cover is included.
- Plan your trip and let people know where you are going and when you expect to arrive at certain destinations.
- Vehicles need to be in sound condition. Take your car for an inspection prior to setting off. Personally, I’d recommend a Dekra Technical inspection. Ensure some of the basics are checked such as tyres (including your spare) and safety systems, braking, wipers etc.
- Check your car’s oil and water at each stop.
- Make sure you get enough sleep ahead of your journey and take time to rest regularly so that you stay energised and don’t start to get tired behind the wheel. For long road trips, you may want to book into accommodation halfway and take turns driving if your passengers are covered on your insurance policy.
- If your car has any sort of turbo, give it a minute to warm up and cool down before and after a long drive.
- When you stop at night, put your car to bed correctly. Lock your car, put lights off, ensure all doors are closed. Waking up to a flat battery is not fun.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Keep a small basic medical kit in your car for long trips, especially if you are heading through more rural areas where cell phone reception may be poor and medical help limited.
Finally, he says, "Prepare properly. It may sound like fun to just get in your car and drive to nowhere, but the reality of finding yourself broken down in an unfamiliar environment really isn’t safe… or fun.
"Think about and plan out the basics before you embark on a spontaneous trip."
READ MORE: West Coast Way: SA's road trip with the most twists
Who to call In Case of Emergency
- Report incidents to either the South African Police Services (10111) or the National Traffic Call Centre (NTCC) on 012 665 6075.
- Arrive Alive can be contacted on 0861 400 800 to report cases of bad driving, as well as poor road conditions.
- The Automobile Association Rescue can be reached on 080 001 0101.
- For emergencies, you can call 112 from any cell phone in South Africa. You will then reach a call centre and they will route you to an emergency service closest to you.
Traveller24 Tip: Download the new emergency resonder app MySOS. It's a one-stop solution for access to the closest and most appropriate emergency services in South Africa. Be sure to link up your family and friends to strengthen the network of assistance. Read more about MySOS and how it works.
Save these emergency numbers on your cell phone:
South African Police Service and National Emergency Response
Phone from cell phone: 112 (automated response)
Emergency - Ambulance Phone 10177
Emergency - From Cell phone 112 (automated response)
Phone 021 981 9890
Missing Children Emergency
Phone 072 647 7464
National Sea Rescue Institute
NSRI Cape Town - Phone 021 449-3500
NSRI Saldhana - Phone 022 714-1726
NSRI Mossel Bay - Phone 044 604-6271
NSRI Port Elizabeth - Phone 041 507-1911
NSRI East London - Phone 043 700-2100
NSRI Durban - Phone 031 361-8567
NSRI Richard's Bay - Phone 035 753-1991
NSRI Inland Dams and Lakes
Vaal Dam – Dick Manten – 083 626 5128
Hartbeespoort Dam – Rod Pitter – 082 990 5961
Victoria Lake – Graham Hartlett – 082 441 6989
Witbank Dam – Dean Wegerle – 060 962 2620
SANParks - Table Mountain National Park
In case of emergencies - Phone 021 957 4700
SANParks - Kruger National Park
In case of emergencies - Phone 013 735 4325
SANParks general call centre
Phone 012 428 9111
Airports emergency numbers:
Bloemfontein International - Phone 051 433 2901
Cape Town International - Phone 021 935 9745
Durban International - Phone 031 408 1990
Polokwane International - Phone 015 288 0083
OR Tambo International - Phone 011 941 6200
Lanseria International - Phone 011 659 1229
Kruger Mpumalanga International - Phone 013 750 2937
Pilanesberg Airport - Phone 014 552 2320
Port Elizabeth Airport - Phone 041 404 8323 or 082 809 5237/38
Upington Airport - Phone 054 332 3117/8 or 076 987 3944