You hear this advice when people are about to travel overseas, “avoid the tourist traps! Go where the locals go. You’ll save money and get better value!”
So why do so many people ignore this advice when they go on holiday here in South Africa? Is it laziness on the part of the traveller – they just want to do the easiest thing possible? Or is it that they have enough money not to care what they spend?
Definition: “Holiday – a period of suspension of work, study or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation or travel, release from duty, business or activity.”
Surely this suggests that holidays are times spent doing different things, exploring a little, not following the same routine as one normally would?
One would think, therefore, that it would be the perfect time to stop at that small town (or big one for that matter) and pop in to some local shop and ask the proprietor, “where do you go to eat when you have a night out?” Or, “what are the 5 best things to do in this town?” Or, “where is the friendliest place to go to relax?”
When you arrange your accommodation, Africa Places will do their best to find the best type of self-catering or resort unit to suit your needs and budget. They will even make some suggestions of what facilities there are in the area. But the finer details of what you really want and need is impossible for anyone to plan, other than yourself.
One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it has made the process of planning so easy to do. From following your route on Google Maps to exploring the various options via the myriad of websites that will tell you about the place you are going. Just about every fact about your trip and destination can be found.
But what the internet will not be able to tell you are what the locals say. That personal interaction from the saleslady behind the counter at the homebakes shop who will tell you the best place to get the chops for your braai. And the chap at the petrol station who can suggest the best time to get to the dam that will more likely get you a bite on your rod (he might also tell you the best place to fish from, too). Or the local mother, pushing the toddler in the stroller, who can also tell you about the local “holiday club” that is designed to keep kiddies occupied during a morning so parents can do things that would otherwise bore the kids to tears.
And if you ask a local where they go to eat and they say, “we always just go to the SPUR,” find another local to ask! Nothing wrong with a SPUR, but if that’s where you go to eat on holiday, you might as well stay at home.