Spending time in a car on a long journey across the country does not always have to be a nightmare experience, instead it might be a time for family bonding where memories are made and fun is had.
Whether we were going camping in the Cedarberg Mountains or driving up to Johannesburg and then on to the Kruger National Park, holidays for my family meant quality time with each other, exploring our beautiful country and learning something new about a different area of South Africa.
I remember as clearly as if it was yesterday, the excitement of waking up at 4am one morning in the middle of June, climbing into the Volkswagen Combi and heading off on our adventure. I was 10 at the time and my brother was 8. I sat in the front of the car with my dad while my mom and brother relaxed in the back. We chatted happily to each other as the huge red orb of the sun rose on the horizon and we drove endlessly forward, filled with the excitement of what adventures were about to be had.
With great anticipation my brother and I had carefully packed our bags the night before, ensuring we had taken plenty of books, game boy games, batteries and more batteries, tapes for our cassette players and games to play - giving my age away a little...
We had spent hours in the weeks prior to our departure making mixed tapes of our favourite music off of the radio and from our parent's tapes and were now comfortable that we had a reasonable mix of 'cool music' and 'grown up' music. We had also discussed how we would each have our own back seat - the joys of a Combi - and thus we were ready to go.
My parents, armed with story tapes, a biscuit and sweety tin 'for children that are well behaved' and a collection of small treats and surprises to keep us entertained during the long drive, climbed into the front of the car and off we went. We were driving up to Johannesburg to visit our cousins and then travelling on up the Panorama Route to the Kruger National Park.
Along the way we would learn about the meaning of patience and that asking 'are we there yet' would never get us the answer we were looking for. We would run, desperate for the bathroom, in a crouched over hobbled way for the garage bathrooms. We would stay in a variety of small bed and breakfasts and hotels and we learn about the different areas in our country and the variety of exciting attractions that could be found there. Most importantly we would spend hours together as a family, either chatting and playing card games around the braai before dinner or simply in each other's space - each doing our own thing, but being together.
The facts and stories that we encountered on this and other trips would remain with us through our childhoods and into our adult lives, enriching us with a love for travel, and appreciation for the wide open road and a passion for all things South African. It is the fond memories from these trips that have lead me to be packing for a three week trip across the country in the next few weeks. It is these simple yet incredible holidays that have formed a strong and loving bond in our family even today when we are all scattered across the globe.
See excellent Family Safari Packages