Thursday, January 15, 2015

So let's talk holidays

I love being in Jhb in December - it's hot but dry (I don't like the heat but I prefer dry heat over humidity), there is NO traffic and you can actually find parking in the malls and do your necessary shopping in peace.

We always preferred to have our holidays at different times but now with kids in school, we are restricted to the official school holidays.

It's kind of killing me, to be honest, because my highest value is freedom ----->> and I just feel resentful having to take a holiday when the rest of the country does too.

More on this later.

I started the new job in September so I wasn't planning to take leave in December (except between Christmas and New Year because I feel that has to be taken).

But I did a thing I do often - I thought, "let me just have a look and see what's available" and before you know it, I was checking out places in the Drakensberg. Sadly, the beach would require flights and accommodation, and we didn't feel like spending on a full (flights, car and accommodation) holiday that was completely unbudgeted.

I set a number in my head and looked within that figure.

And thanks to our diamond vitality status, we paid only 50% of what the holiday should have cost.

(BTW, we saved more than 10 times what we spend on our vitality membership last year, so it pays for us, big-time)

So we went on a 7-night holiday very early (for us) together with half the country.

I explained to a friend that the place was awesome and all that... BUT if I'd paid full price I would have been disappointed.

Not much to do with the place but more with the MORE-ness of all the people.

I like quiet holidays out of routine and this time I saw more people there than I see in my normal Jhb life. Pool at resort full so no loungers available, etc.

I realise this is the new normal but I suppose I thought not many people would be on holidays yet. Wrong.

I'll write more about the holiday because there were lots of wonderful experiences but I'll admit I had to give myself a talking-to so I could set aside my expectations and just enjoy what was there.

But back to the point of this blog.

I'm not really sure how people do this holiday thing for long (2 weeks) on a normal budget. Do you know what Ballito accommodation costs? R2500 a night. Ridiculous.

  • My SIL suggested we all rent a house and ... no.
  • Another friend suggested camping and.... I laughed hard. Do I look in the least bit like a camper?!
  • Another suggested family holidays.... possible but I can only stay with people for 3 days before I go cuckoo.

I was thinking of doing a drive down to PE and stopping halfway at a farm (Cat, was it you who told me about a farm you guys go to?) and continuing with a drive the next day. We could stay with my mother to cut down costs...

(Flying to PE is about R9 - R10 000 for the 4 of us)

Julia blogged about staycations and some comments advised against timeshare. A pity because that was one of the things I wanted to investigate.

Anyway, seasoned travellers with kids, what I want to know is:
  • if you have to go on school holiday holidays, which is the best time of year to go away?
  • what do you do as a family?
  • do you save the whole year, or don't you mind spending a lot at one time?
  • how big a deal is taking your kids out of school for a day or so in Grade R?
I've figured out that what I really need is for companies connected to the travel industry to PAY me to take photos by giving my family free holidays :)

Would that not be perfect for me? 

These photos are from day 1 of our December holiday to the Drakensberg. We accidentally took the horrible, pot-holey road and everything in our bodies was shaken loose.

Eventually we passed Driekloof Dam and because we were so annoyed we carried on driving but then I said to D, "you know what? If we were in Ireland, we would have stopped and taken PHOTOS" so we turned the car around (this is a MIRACLE for a goal-driven person like me - I just want to get to my destination) and went back for photos. It felt like South Africa's answer to Wicklow. DIVINE!

That 10-minute stop cheered all of us right up and you can see above that the kids got to use their new cameras too.

Do you like to stop? Or do you like to get to your destination?

PS if you have non-school age kids, GO ON HOLIDAYS!


  1. I will only ever be able to go on leave over Dec now...the school has holiday after care for the other breaks, but none for that one. *sigh*

    I think you would probably get away with missing a day or two in GrR...once...hahaha.

    We stop along the way to stretch our legs, eat breakfast, do a bathroom run.

    1. We do that one breakfast stop because everyone is starving after two hours in the car, and then only if someone desperately needs the loo.

  2. As you know we do CT for a month (well almost a month). We stay at my folks and with D's family. The last 2 years we have hired a house on the estate where D's family have their holiday home. It has worked well.

    We do the trip in one day. It works for us and I think is actually better for the kids to be honest. They have to be in the car one day and then they are there.

    All that said though we are in major discussions about what to do this year and are looking to go away with friends. It is all still up in the air really.

    Many people don't go away during the 3rd term break - its only a week I think which is why people don't generally go then. You do still pay the in season rates but it might be less busy then?

  3. We love to do it with a stopover - in fact, we have at times stayed over for two nights. It just makes the whole experience a lot nicer. We also stop a lot! We look at things, stop at farm stalls, have a non rushed breakfast or lunch. It's a mind shift but a nice one.

    We have found that the north coast is a lot quieter after new years - one year we left on the first - half the people! And I think if you co ordinate with teachers you can still do a few days off in grade R - from 1 you are stuck.

  4. We always had some tie to "normal" vacation times because J is a teacher. It's going to be a lot tougher now, though, with me working and having limited vacation days. :(

    I feel like we *really* need to take the girls to a beach this summer, as they've never been. That's not really my ideal destination, though. [Well, unless I think back to pre-baby days and we could lounge all day and read and have people bring us drinks. HA!]

    I really love going to new destinations (or revisiting favorite ones). Our NYC vacation was great this summer! I'm up for Boston or San Francisco next! ;) I think we'll find a beach this summer, though. I'm hoping if we go offshore, it won't be so crowded.

  5. Google Villa Jaime in Ballito!

  6. We stop to stretch legs etc. And we LOVE farmstalls and quaint coffee shops. For toilet breaks and refreshments.

  7. I need to do a post of my own about holidays with two small children. Will get to it soon.



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