We are heading towards yet another long weekend, and as South Africans, whenever such an opportunity presents itself, we love to take a sho’t left and explore our country.
With Freedom Day coming up on 27th April, we're presented with such an opportunity for that holiday, therefore, we should be planning to enjoy it with friends and family.
There is nothing wrong if you want to stay at home and connect virtually, but those who prefer getting out and enjoying the local scenery remember to do so safely.
To create a safer experience, everyone is encouraged to replace crowded holiday spots with local day-trip destinations, or small, intimate gatherings.
As we are doing things a little differently that doesn't mean you can't make your weekend or holiday the one to remember.
We've put together some fun tips and tricks, with the help of local Mzansi star and global mover-and-shaker, Samantha Wright, to help you celebrate your next getaway!
Take the (shorter) road less travelled
Avoiding crowded places can be tricky over a long weekend, but you’ll soon find that much of the country’s beauty lies in your province’s local areas, like a nearby hiking trail or a park that’s a couple of minutes away from you.
These unchartered spaces can offer a tranquil environment worthy of providing that much-needed feeling of being away from the hustle and bustle of daily stresses – a guaranteed way to make your day more enjoyable.
Just make sure you've always got your hand sanitiser and mask with you!
“There's no harm in visiting locations that aren’t known as the traditional getaway spots,” says Wright, founder of Tech Girl in South Africa and international esports shoutcaster. “Those tend to be some of the country’s best-hidden gems and can make the holiday memorable.”
Make sure any place you visit has a safety stamp of approval
If you’ve made plans to go out to an establishment with a small group of friends or family, then make sure whichever place you’re visiting has the recommended health and safety protocols in place.
Look out for hospitality and entertainment providers that adhere to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) protocols for your safety, and the safety of other guests.
These establishments have the World Travel and Tourism Council's (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp of approval, courtesy of the TBCSA.
Virtual can still be lekker
We know that a long weekend is a great reason to get together with friends and family, but there’s no reason why you still can’t do so virtually.
More and more events have moved online in recent months, and tons of platforms are available to connect you with friends and family, from Zoom to WhatsApp, Skype or Google Duo.
If video isn’t ideal for everyone, then you can set up a free conference call line where everyone can dial in.
Best of all, you eliminate any chance of getting stuck in holiday traffic!
If you must drive, do so safely
If you’re going to be driving for an outing, make sure to take the necessary steps to stay safe and alert – including putting your car through a safety check to ensure it's in tip-top shape.
The Automobile Association (AA) has some fantastic tips to make sure you’ve covered all vehicle checks.
“Weekends and holidays are a great time to bond with family and friends, even though they’ll be virtual this year unless it's a small group," says Wright.
“If you do have to travel somewhere, remember to stay alert, even if it’s a 20-minute drive. Play some games in the car, sing along to that playlist you’ve been compiling, and remember to keep your body and mind revitalised.
Red Bull has been my go-to energy drink for short- and long-day trips, keeping me alert on and off the road, like remembering to grab my mask and sanitiser. Plus, trying out all the different flavours is an adventure on its own.”
While things might be a bit different this year, there’s no reason not to celebrate occasions the South African way. You must just do so safely by practising social distancing and limit friend and family groups to small numbers.