Going away for holidays can be an expensive adventure. But how many of us have actually taken the time to explore our own home towns? We look at how a staycation can save you money, and be just as exciting as jet setting across the world.
What is a staycation and how much will it cost me?
According to Urban Dictionary, a Staycation is "a vacation that is spent at one's home enjoying all that home and one's home environs have to offer."
Besides getting to explore your own home, staycations can also save you money. Going abroad can open you up to new and interesting cultures, but here in the Rainbow Nation you can do just that with a considerably lower budget.
For example, a trip to Mauritius with an all-inclusive package would cost you R47,509 per person. If you wanted to go to Europe for the holidays, then a flight alone, to London, for example, would be about R12,000 return, for one person.
If you decide to stay home you already have accommodation, food, and transport without even having to lift a finger. All that is left to do is to dedicate some of your money for entertainment.
What to do in Cape Town
If you are after a cultural experience, start off your staycation by visiting the Old Biscuit Mill, in Woodstock. This is explained on its website as "vibrant, warm-hearted little village in the heart of Woodstock where talented people come together to share, collaborate and, well, show off the heart-felt passion."
The mill has weekend markets both during the day and in the evening, with lots of food, entertainment and market shops where you can get those last-minute Christmas presents. There is no entrance fee, but you might end up paying R20 for parking.
When last have you been on top of Table Mountain? If it's been a couple of years then you are missing out. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company is currently offering a 'sunset special' where you can buy return tickets for half price after 6pm from November 1 to December 19, and from January 8 until February 28, see http://www.tablemountain.net/content/page/sunset-special.
If you want to get your adrenaline pumping a bit, then shark cage diving is something you could try. Being in the Western Cape means there are Great White sharks waiting for their close-up encounter with you. There are lots of different companies offering shark cage diving, and they can easily be found by Googling 'shark cage diving Cape Town'.
But, you can expect to pay about R1350 per person for the dive. Shark Cage Diving Gansbaai, for example, offers you package deals which include your dive and accommodation in Gansbaai for the weekend from R1450.
What to do in Johannesburg
For an unforgettable view of Johannesburg, be sure to visit the Roof of Africa, situated on the 50th floor of the Carlton Centre. The tower stands 223 meters tall and offers incredible 360-degree views from its observation deck. The admission fee is R15, and for children under 10 years old, it is only R10.
Newtown is another example of city rejuvenation and has become a vibrant area – known as Johannesburg's arts and culture precinct. In the heart is the Mary Fitzgerald Square where concerts and festivals take place. Overlooking the square is Museum Africa. This is the only museum which tells the story of life in Southern Africa from the Stone Age to the nuclear age and beyond.
What to do in Durban
In the smouldering humidity of Durban during the holidays, take a break from it all, pack a picnic and head to the Japanese Gardens in Durban North. Traditional ponds are home to Japanese Koi Carp who are thought to bring luck and keep the wide variety of water lilies company. There is no entrance fee, so you can sit back on the green grass, and laze the afternoon away under the shade of a big tree.
If you have never been in a rickshaw, then this staycation it is time to try! Take a ride along the beachfront in one of the brightly coloured rickshaws. The ride is usually fairly short, from 10 to 15 minutes, and you'll pay anything from R30 to R100, depending on the number of passengers and the distance travelled. But it is a fun way to see the beachfront, and you can always stop and have some ice-cream along the way.
Some other ideas
- If you live near the coast, then take a day trip to the beach. Remember that during the holidays the more popular beaches are going to be very full, so maybe take a bit of a longer drive and enjoy a quiet family day in the sun and surf.
- Get on your bicycle and explore your neighbourhood or see if there are any bike trails near you. Cape Town for instance has a guide and website dedicated to those keen on exploring the city on a bicycle. Why not see what it has to offer you? Visit http://www.bicyclecapetown.org/city-guide/.
- Go to the movies with some friends. There is nothing quite like the 3D experience and popcorn to give you the holiday feeling. If the movies are a bit costly, then you can always rent a couple of DVD's and have a movie evening at your place.
- Take a hike – summer is a wonderful time to get up really early and head for the hills, to watch the African sunrise blaze across the sky. This way you can get back in time so that you're out of the heat of the day.
- Save money by curling up and reading a book at home. Read that novel you have been meaning to all year, or have a reading marathon with the family.
- Grab some of your friends and go and see a show.
- In true South African spirit host a braai – invite your friends and neighbours, string up the fairy lights and hit the carols button.
For more ideas on what to do in your home city, check out our sister website, Moneybags' article on Things to do under R200, click here.
Staying home doesn't have to be a bore. Try your hand at some arts and crafts, or go out for a simple walk to reacquaint yourself with your area. This way you get to have all the relaxing qualities a holiday brings, at a fraction of the cots.