Make safety a priority for an enjoyable holiday in South Africa. Do your research, plan ahead and follow these valuable travel tips of a drama-free trip.
Travel Documents / Money
Always have a photocopy of your passport, and any visas. Also, have a list of traveller’s cheque numbers. These copies should be packed separately from the originals. It is never a good idea to carry large amounts of cash, and most urban centres (hotels, shops) do accept credit cards (Visa and Mastercard are most common), and traveler’s cheques. You might need cash for purchases local markets – keep this in a travel wallet, or a zip pocket.
Never leave cameras and hand luggage unattended, whether in a vehicle, or even in a hotel foyer. Never pack valuables (this includes medication), in your check-in luggage.
When travelling independently, stay informed in terms of the local news. Ask at your hotel about any unsafe areas, and codes of dress and behaviour. Don’t openly carry valuables. If you must carry your passport and money, keep them in a buttoned-down pocket.
South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road so vehicles are right hand drive. Drivers must have a valid driver’s license, with photo, or an international driver’s permit. Seatbelts are mandatory. Driving in South Africa is easy to adapt to, with sign posting in English and rental cars easily available in all major cities. There are a number of toll roads in South Africa that are clearly indicated well before reaching the toll stations, where payment in cash must be made at an attended booth. Overtaking on the inside is not illegal in South Africa and is a common practice. When changing lanes be aware of cars on the inside. In general, speed limits are 120 km/h (75 miles) on freeways and 60 km/h (37 miles) in towns and cities. Fuel cannot be purchased with a credit card in South Africa so you will need cash.
Tipping (gratuities) is not compulsory at all, however, if you want to tip because you have received good service this is acceptable in South-Africa.
South Africa has a whopping 11 official languages. While English is third most-spoken language, South Africans have put their own unique twist on it and throw in a mix of Afrikaans and Zulu words for good measure.
Here some of the most common South African slang words to learn before your trip:
Aikona: The direct translation means not on your life.
Babbelas: This is slang for a hangover.
Eina: This is used to express a sharp pain.
Eish: This is a Khoi San term and is used to express shock or surprise.
Haiybo: This is a Zulu word that means definitely not.
Howzit: A common greeting that’s used instead of hi, how are you.
Just Now: While it may seem like it means right now, it actually means an undetermined amount of time.
Lekker: This is an Afrikaans word and means awesome, great, or good.
Now Now: This either means right now or as soon as possible.
Robot: South Africans call stoplights robots.
Shame: It’s not slang, but you’ll hear this word used when South Africans think something is really cute or if they are being sympathetic.
Zebra Crossing: A zebra crossing is the local term for pedestrian crossing.
As soon as your flight to South Africa lands and you’ve collected your luggage, buy a Vodacom sim card from one of the vendors inside the airport. You can get data bundles that will help you stay connected as well as airtime for any phone calls you need to make.