Tag Archives: Google Maps

Tips to make planning your trip easier

Yellow line trafficThere have been a few things mentioned previously about planning your holiday – using Google Maps, asking locals for suggestions and advice and planning your route. Here are some basics to consider before setting off into the “great trek” known as the end-of-year-holiday.

  • Get your accommodation sorted ahead of time! I know that it adds spice to the adventure to rock up and ask whether there is room at the inn but when the computer says, NO! It’s not much fun trying to sleep in the car in the hope that the next day will yield somewhere to lay one’s head. This is where Africa Places can help – Elaine and Jill are experts at sourcing the type of accommodation you are probably going to want to use. Comfortable, with amenities, in great locations, with lots for the kids to do and activities for the mums and dads too.
  • Make sure the vehicle is ready to roll! Check the tyres, get it serviced and checked over. Tell your garage that you’re going to be going on a trip let them advise you accordingly on the state of your vehicle. If they suggest it needs shocks – do it! Carry an emergency tool kit with the type of essential tools you might need if you get stuck between Touws River and Montagu – or on some other road that’s not a main route with lots of passing traffic. Screwdrivers, some spanners some wire, duct tape, some rubber tubing (you never know how useful THAT can be to temporarily seal a broken pipe), jubilee clips. Ask your mechanic what he takes with him, that’ll give you an idea. Don’t forget your wheel spanner and a jack that works.
  • Maps! Yes, even in the days of GPS and Google Maps available on mobile phones, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned map that you can fold, write on and show to locals when you’re lost. The chances are, the local you ask won’t be au fait with a GPS or Google Maps and will get confused.
  • Local knowledge! Do some online research of the area that you’re going to be visiting. Even if you’ve been there before, there are bound to be new things in place and even some old places no longer there (like a coffee shop that you loved). Search some Facebook pages with the name of the town or resort in, you’ll get a lot of information from very involved locals who contribute to these pages. Local tourist information bureaux will also provide information but be aware that many tourist bureaux will only “actively promote” their members – there are many really good establishments who are not members who also need to be supported. Google blogposts for the area you’re going to – bloggers can give you some really great insight into what’s happening in the area. Narrow your search from “what’s on in Gauteng?” to “what’s on in Northern Suburbs?” to “what can I do in Fourways?” or something similar.

Here’s another tip … keep enough fuel in your tank to reach the next town plus a “contingency” amount of about 25% more (just in case). Some people advocate that you should never let the tank get below 25% full. But don’t carry an extra can of fuel in your car – that’s just dangerous!

In any event, the fuel price comes down tomorrow, 5th November … but I wonder if it will come down on 3rd December or not. Just keep budgeting!
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Use Google Maps to plan your trip … gee, it’s easy!

When I mentioned that I’d never been to Sun City, I was looked at as though I’d grown another head. “Never been to Sun City …. Never??” Well, lots of people haven’t, but would like to go. Accommodation is one thing that you don’t need to be concerned about – Africa Places will sort THAT out for you, all it takes is a phone call.

But when I started planning on how to get there I was surprised at how far away from Johannesburg it is. If you listen to those fortunate people who have been there, you’d think Sun City was just round the corner. This is a typical comment from those who have made the journey, “… we spent the day at Valley of the Waves and then had a braai at home afterwards.

Google Maps screenshot
Google Maps screenshot

Looking at the map on Google Maps, and planning my route from Sandton I saw that the trip is over 160km and depending on how low you fly, will take up to two and a half hours each way, without stops! Why, then go for the day? At least overnight there and eliminate half the travelling time. And you do know how I like to stop on the way to anywhere – making my journey part of my holiday.

And guess what? Never having been to Sun City, I’ve also never been to Hartbeespoort Dam either! Shock and horror! So I want to explore a little. I hear the Dam is very pretty – so why not take a picnic, as one does, and break the journey at the Dam and enjoy the view, browse through a few shops (they MUST have shops) and see a little of what people have been raving about?

So I started exploring my proposed route on Goole Maps and went to Google Street-View. I found some lovely little places where we can make a short detour and unpack the picnic, sit and enjoy the views for half an hour. There is a place right next to the water, about 2 km off the “planned route” – ideal! Or we could opt for the complex right next to the road, called Chameleon Village. Over the road from that, is what looks like a whole lot of craft shops that one can amble around.

I love Google Maps! I have been able to follow my route on my computer. I can see the terrain I will be going through and I have been able to spot places that I want to explore and investigate. It’s a fantastic tool to use to plan a trip with.

Who said men don’t consult maps? It makes me look pretty smart too when I can tell my fellow travellers with some authority, “well we turn left up ahead and about a km down the road we’re going to stop and have a wander round a lovely craft village. How does that sound?

And then, there it is! Almost like I’ve been there before!