With apologies to the original advertising slogan! It’s that time of the year again… We live in a land of rich traditions, and our summer vacations are one of those. In South Africa, our year-end holidays usually start around 16th December, which is when the traditional “Builder’s Holidays” begin. Guess what? That’s only seven weeks away! Whilst that may seem like a lifetime away to you at the moment, with the silly season upon us (I saw Christmas decorations in Woolworths last week!) and work increasing exponentially with projects that need to be completed by the end of the year, the time is going to fly… Why are we discussing this? Well, if you’re planning to take a holiday, there are certain things that are worth doing before you head out on a road trip – many of which take some time and planning.
Check the wear on your tyres, including the spare. South African regulations require a tyre tread depth to be at least one millimetre, but 1.6 millimetres is a safer option to use as a minimum depth. Ideally, visit a professional fitment centre for a quick check-up. Replace your tyres if required. Be aware that this can sometimes take a while, as they may need to locate tyres with your required specification. A report done by the South African Tyre Manufacturing Conference (SATMC) revealed that more than 60% of second-hand tyres sold in South Africa are illegal. This can have fatal consequences, especially when you consider that the only part of the car touching the road are four pieces of tyre tread roughly the size of your hand. So always go to a reputable tyre company to ensure that you are getting safe tyres (ideally new). Whilst there, also check the alignment and balancing. Ensure that you have inflated to the correct pressure before departing on your journey (check required pressure by looking at the label on the inside door panel on the driver’s side).
Your car’s battery should be fully functional. If you have any doubts, pop into a battery centre for a quick check-up. Whilst on the subject of batteries, purchase a spare battery for your key fob and pop it in your luggage. Whilst these are really easy obtain (think Dischem etc) in larger cities, they will often prove quite a challenge to purchase in a remote holiday village.
Check and clean your windscreen wiper blades. If they’re tired and worn, replace them prior to the trip. The rainy season has just begun, and the ability to see clearly is key for your safety on the road. Check all the relevant fluid levels in your car, including the windscreen washer water bottle. Other fluids include transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and engine oil. It is perhaps easier to allow your dealership to check most of these fluids for you. In fact, it is always a good idea to have your vehicle serviced before setting off on a trip. Breaking down with a fully loaded vehicle is no fun and presents a security risk. Most of the above-mentioned checks would be performed during a service, but to be on the safe side, you may want to mention that you are embarking on a long journey and provide an extra list of checks for them to perform.
If you’re going somewhere exotic beyond our borders, double-check which vaccinations are required for your destination. Be aware that some have quite a long lead time. For example, yellow fever should be done at least 10 days before your travel since the proof of vaccination is not valid until 10 days after getting the vaccine, the time needed to develop immunity to yellow fever virus.
Now is also the time to check your insurance. Go through all your policies (vehicles, ‘toys’ like boats or jet skis, householders, personal accident etc). Often, we make changes, renovate, purchase new items or simply upgrade our equipment, and forget to upgrade our policies. This can lead to tears should the unthinkable happen.
A holiday is that time of the year where all should be excitement, adventure and relaxation. A little planning and effort ahead of time will help ensure that this is the case, rather than having to deal with stressful and unnecessary dramas!
Jacqui Ikin & The Cross Country Team
For easy reference, here are the ways you can contact Cross Country Insurance Company:
011 215 8800
010 110 0845