We travel and revel in a good road-trip and part of the fun is the first meeting to select a destination and route. On our last trip we travelled five days, covered over 3800 Km and stayed in four different towns. Our next planned trip was put on hold due to the lockdown imposed on South Africa, but we will head out as soon as travel restrictions are relaxed.
Planning is done using a trip planner which we developed. We research each town along the route to find interesting places and things to see. Our trips generate content for our various platforms but at the same time, we also try to gain something from the trips.
The term “road-tripping” has its origins in the United States and was made popular by the famous Route 66 which cuts a swathe across the USA. This is a driving adventure that spans over 2,400 miles and crosses eight states, starting in Chicago and ending at the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California. The name is derived from the routes “#66” designation in 1926.
In South Africa we have “Route 62 “ which starts in Cape Town and takes you through to Oudtshoorn and the Garden Route. It features a host of sights and activities, and incorporates small towns such as Montagu, Humansdorp and parts of the Klein Karoo. Global travel polls rate this as a top road-trip destination. Road-trips have grown in popularity locally and instead of flocking to the coast like lemmings, many families are stopping over and taking in what the country has to offer. One asks oneself why this has become so popular? Well in talking to friends and fellow trippers a few things emerge…
Life is not getting easier. We are under pressure every day. So, to get out with family or friends on a trip is a great way to relieve that pressure. You make new friends, who may be fellow travellers or even locals, and out of these friendships come future trips. This is of extreme benefit to workaholics – stepping away from the coalface sees you invigorated on your return and far more productive.
Then learning kicks in. We have a country steeped in history, as well as a rich natural history. Whether you explore a battlefield or a fossil deposit, you come away feeling enriched. You immerse yourself in local culture and embrace regional cuisine, discover things and become aware of other customs, cultures and people. And because you experienced it as opposed to reading it, the experience stays with you for longer. You return home imbued with a feeling of satisfaction. Then the pace slows down. You don’t have to fly from town to town, you slow down, you pull over and explore, you become one with the trip and its purpose.
Integral to a road trip is the playlist, and it does not matter what music genre one favours. It’s more important to have a good playlist that suits everyone in the car and opens a dialogue, as the music brings back memories or poses questions if the artist or genre is unknown. On our trips, we generally have 3 iPods with a variety of music which often leads to a robust conversation as the music covers decades and a variety of artists. Listening to music in a car is different as the individual songs become synonymous with whatever you are doing at that particular moment. The car allows you to focus on the lyrics and the sound. Volume is important, never too loud as we want to be able to chat at the same time.
Then there are the memories. Our group still takes great delight in recalling aspects of each trip, from our first trip to Kenhardt to our more recent trips. In Kenhardt we were entertained by Ernie Hattingh, a local farmer, and his wife Helmien. Friends were made and we will return to spend time with them. It’s important to fill the days with memories, even if it’s a memorable read and afternoon snooze after a good lunch.
A road- trip presents a good opportunity to take a break from Social Media which can in itself be addictive. We post regular pictures to Facebook and Instagram, but the fact that you are active and do not always have a signal means that you are less consumed with your smartphone or tablet. Restricting usage can be amazingly refreshing. Then there is the dreaded schedule. Most things in life are time-constrained and scheduled. On a well-planned road trip you set the schedule according to your plans and if you overrun then so be it!
Food is an important part of any trip. We always have sufficient water, seek out decent coffee, biltong and snacks, and are happy to stop at strange wayside eateries to have a bite. Yet we do not sneer at mainline restaurants if we need fuel – that’s both Diesel and a bite to eat. We are not scared to stop at a Wimpy. In fact, the meal often finds its way onto Instagram as we tag ourselves. But eat local according to the area you are in and do not be afraid to ask locals for a recommendation. Why eat a pizza in the Karoo when lamb chops or a lamb bredie are the local delicacies?
Lastly remember that whatever you do on a road-trip is an adventure, even if you do not include abseiling or bungee jumping. The adventure is out there as the trip takes you out of your comfort zone. It’s good for your soul and makes you feel alive again. It’s a soothing experience that enhances your clarity on life! So, lockdown permitting, get out there and enjoy the country!