Grounded budget travel

2012-05-18 14:22

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From trekking around the province, to taking national road trips, the present state of the economy means we've had to scale down everything to the bare minimum. Thank God for the internet, otherwise organizing dates, departure times and communal contributions would be a nightmare, not to mention a waste of a lot of airtime.

Keeping our travels local, I think my friends and I have gone through every method of budget travel. The trips, on each of the different forms of transportation all vary depending on company, luggage and distance. While the low cost airline carriers are faster and quite cheap when booked months in advance, being young means we rely on impulse to guide us. It's not an adventure unless you have stepped outside of your comfort zone. That seems to be our running theme at this point.

Here's a comparison on all things transport related. You make the choice on what kind of adventure you're willing to pay for. We compare return trips between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Snail rail but certainly good value for money:

The cheapest means of travel would be to go by train at R680 for a return trip. Apart from the fact that the trip could last more than 24 hours, a train trip with friends could be turned into a very small moving hotel lobby. Traveling on economy class would mean sharing the cart with all the other "people" on the train. With country vistas at your disposal it could make for quite an epic trip. Those with the habit of bending the rules every now and then could sneak social lubricants to make for some interesting encounters with other passengers and train staff. I wouldn't suggest getting too lubricated though as motion sickness and unruly behavior could contribute to you eventually getting kicked off the train. That would mean having to deal with being stuck in a foreign location, through a hazy state, while accommodating an oncoming hangover. Worse yet; the loss of the little money you have. So smart rule benders know how far they can actually take the joke and where to draw the line.

Contact Shosholoza Meyl by visiting their website or calling 0860 008888.

Adventures of a taxi ride:

The two most expensive ways of ground travel in SA are by bus and taxi. At R1 200 for a return trip by taxi, this is most certainly my least favourite means of budget travel. That being said, I do however recommend travelling by taxi at least once (if possible) in your life. The trip will unquestionably be something to talk about long after the mission. Enduring discomfort for most of the journey comes with the territory. Restricted freedom comes in the form of forsaking personal space and having luggage on one's lap. But the real gambles lies with both the taxi and the driver. Chances are that the taxi is a direct reflection of its driver.

The more rusty and rickety the taxi looks the more chance you have for a safer adventure. Your chances of breaking down and getting stopped by the metro police on multiple occasions have risen ninety percent though. You could also witness the driver forking out a few ZAR to complete 'African negotiations' with the men in blue, but don't quote us on that. There might even be a point where you'll have to climb out of the taxi and help push or even steer it should the situation call for that. At some point you might find yourself standing outside the taxi while your driver flags others down. He'll have to hand you back some of the money already paid, calculate it by the distance already travelled, before you climb into another taxi. Once you've been squeezed into this new taxi, it will either take you straight to your destination or to another town and rank before getting you onto the taxi that is finally meant to take you to your destination.

On the other hand if you get into a mint condition taxi, you'll have to concern yourself the driving style of your driver. You might find yourself sitting in the vehicle of an African Michael Schumacher. On this trip the odds of breaking down are less than those of getting into a fatal accident. 'African negotiations' will definitely occur. The thrill lies in the speed of the trip and arriving an hour or two ahead of the usual time it takes to cover the distance by car.

For more contact Santaco on :+27 12 321 1043

Rules for the cool kids on the bus:

Movement by bus is a close second to my least favourite budget travel resource mentioned earlier. The fact that they cost the same price is something of a scandal. Intercape have in recent years taken to playing Christian sermons throughout their journeys and cream off the auditory preaching by screening movies that promote the same values and morals that the sermons do. I have to question the reason for this exclusionary, religious entertainment? To skirt the religion bashing, you could sneak in your own mindless movies in order to suppress the boredom of the long trip and the fatigue it carries with it. The reality of breaking down on a bus is ever present, but rather a warm bus than a small taxi right?

Travelling on a bus with a group always sounds fun, but the troop should always take care to not become the loudest people on the bus, having inappropriate conversations for old and young ears alike. Respecting the environment is the key to this means of travel.

For more booking information contact the following:

 - Intercape

- Greyhound

- Translux

Say yes to impulse in a fast car:

The favoured and most moderately priced way to travel with friends is the good old fashion road trip. A car of four with everyone chipping in R500 per head would be sufficient for a one way trip to reach the destination. This includes the cost of splitting petrol and toll-gates. Road tripping gives us the freedom of stopping over in small towns either for a period of a few hours or for the night, the options remain open to us. As previously mentioned we're irresistibly drawn to impulse. The trip would consist of: rotating drivers, talking free formed nonsense, playing our favourite music, with our favourite people in the world. All the while marvelling at the beauty that is the country. In short this is all code for: "Absolute bliss."

What's your preferred mode, why not post a comment below?

Read more on:    travel south africa  |  travel tips

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