The Last Straw – Be the difference

We all love our planet. With this in mind, we at Off Beat Holiday Club have been doing all we can to make a difference. From recycling to sourcing water locally or even onsite, hiring locally and even using renewable energy at some of our properties, we’ve been making a difference! Look out for our biggest initiative to date – the #TheLastStraw campaign.  Most of our properties are only providing plastic straws on request while we source alternatives in a war against plastic while we champion this initiative and raise awareness about pollution, recycling and alternatives. This has already made a major impact!

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Following our lead, are you ready to be the change you wish to see in the world? Not just at home but when you travel too (as we know you love to travel?!)

Getting away from the rush of everyday life (for most of us) and just taking some time for yourself is amazing. It’s time you will cherish, whether you’re with family, friends or are travelling alone. On top of having a great time, why not travel in a way that also makes the world a better place?

When it comes to travelling these days, almost everyone thinks about their impact on the world – which is super important! But how many of us also act responsibly, to do our bit which adds up?! We’ve come up with a few handy, convenient ways that you can be a more responsible traveller to join us in making a difference just like our #TheLastStraw initiative. Be the change!!!

First of all, what is a responsible traveller? It’s someone who travels in a sustainable way that benefits the country or area they’re visiting. To do this take note of the impact you’ll have and actively work towards travelling in a way that has the best possible impact. This includes wildlife, the environment, pollution, the local people and the economy, and your carbon footprint. Take a look at our helpful tips on being a more responsible traveller:

Start at home
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Yes, you can even make a difference before you leave for your trip!

  • Empty your fridge – a lot of our properties are self-catering, so don’t buy more new food at your destination than you need to! If you’re travelling by car, rather pack a coolbox and take everything with you. Now you can plan some of your meals ahead of time with what you have in the fridge. An added bonus, your fridge will use less power while you’re away and you won’t waste food. Maybe even turn it off to defrost, saving power and getting that chore out of the way 😉
  • Turn off your water & geyser – It’s a waste to leave your water on if no one is home because you might have slow leaks that you never notice. Also, why not give your geyser a break, saving you electricity in the process! Plus, if there are plumbing problems in your area while you’re away (like a major leak), an off geyser is less likely to get damaged than one that is running.
  • Unplug any appliances that don’t need to be on – Like your TV, decoder, oven, hairdryer/straightener, washing machine, lamps and anything else you can think of. Some appliances use up to 30% of their full consumption when left on standby! You can save loads of power by unplugging them.

Pick the right holiday destination
Many of our properties have initiatives to create a better environment for everyone – whether it’s through recycling, using boreholes to save water or even donating to local charities like children’s homes. Before you book your stay, find out what the resort does to be socially responsible. If every traveller did this, holiday destinations would be forced to do more good 😊

Support local
Support Local
Yes, we said it! You may be in the habit of buying products from brands you trust but going on holiday is all about experiencing everything that’s local or different – isn’t it? Supporting the local community has such a positive impact on the area you’re in, such as community well-being, creating jobs and increasing wages, entrepreneurship, and even environmental sustainability. So next time, think before you buy that Big Mac – and try something local! 😉

Educate yourself
Being a responsible traveller isn’t only about saving water and electricity! By learning about the cultures you will be coming across, you can be respectful of the locals to have a better social impact. Before you leave for your holiday, learn about any other culture you might be coming across, the food, acceptable clothing and the rules and values of the people you are visiting. Obviously, you can’t learn everything but knowing a little will help when choosing where to eat, shop, how to greet the locals, and even what to wear. You’ll also find out some great tips during your research on what’s worth doing which will make your trip even better 😊

Another thing – when taking photos of the locals, ask permission first. It’s the right thing to do and they might even pose for you. This will also help start conversations, giving you even more great memories to take home!

Keep it up at home
Recycle home 2After your holiday, you can even find out more about what you can do to protect the environment and people of the area you’ve just visited. Even if you can’t afford to donate money, make a difference by spreading the word about the initiatives you’ve learnt about. Spreading the word is half of the work!

Leave only footprints
When you travel, look after the environment like you’re at home – after all, this world is our home! Don’t litter, say no to plastic, recycle everything you can, and keep your waste to a minimum. Also, use a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water. Plastic is killing our oceans and causing cancer.

Another way you can avoid leaving a carbon footprint is by using public transport or walking to areas that are close by. Use an electric car if you’re going to be driving around, they’re getting better and better.

We hope this blog helps you to make a difference when travelling. If you have any ideas that we’ve left out, please share them in the comments!

Travel safely and we look forward to planning many memorable holidays with you.

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Eat like the locals

Travelling’s all about treating your senses! Seeing amazing things that you don’t get at home, smelling the sea or mountain air or maybe a forest you’re busy exploring, and feeling the warm sun on your skin.

Well, a trip around South Africa’s most unique destinations isn’t complete without “eating local.” This lets you eat fresh, seasonal produce that the region specialises in! You can also try out recipes which the area is famous for (that just aren’t as good at home – just saying 😉). It would be a huge shame not to experience the “taste of a place” by eating what you normally have at home, don’t you think? A change really is as good as a holiday – so we’ve done a little research of our own on some fab holiday eating for you – let us know what you think…

Western Cape

Undeniably South Africa’s food capital (normally boasting 8 or 9 of the country’s top 10 restaurants!!!) there’s too much to choose between when it comes to dining in the Western Cape. Whether you’re going to Cape Town, somewhere along the West or South Coast or you’re travelling to the Winelands – great food awaits!

  • Fresh Seafood – Don’t miss the fresh snoek, hake, tuna and even swordfish that are brought into places like Hout Bay on a daily basis. Buy straight from the fishermen or try out Fish on the Rocks.
  • Karoo Lamb – One of the world’s greatest lamb producing areas, the Karoo, lies only a couple hour’s drive from the Mother City. Why not braai some ultra-tender loin chops at one of our properties? We can recommend Son of a Butcher for fresh lamb – look them up!
  • Delicious Fruit – A foodie’s favourite in the Western Cape is strawberry picking. Choose just the biggest and best strawberries to eat fresh, put in drinks or make amazing desserts and sauces with, while you walk around the amazing scenery! The best time to go is between September and January and you can always have a glass of chilled white wine to cool down afterwards 😊. Other great local fruits to enjoy are the Western Cape’s apples, guavas and of course grapes. Sound tasty?!

Mpumalanga

Whether you’re staying at Gethlane Game Lodge or Waterberry Hill, there’s so much to look forward to around the Lowveld when it comes to tasty food!

  • World’s Best Clementines – Drive around farming areas in Mpumalanga, like Hazyview, and you’ll be wowed by sprawling banana, orange and nut plantations… but the fruit that takes the cake – their clementines. As big as a large grapefruit, sweet and juicy, you just can’t eat enough of these when you’re in the Lowveld!
  • Pancakes – Places like Harrie’s Pancakes in Graskop serve THE perfect pancake. You can choose between tasty and creative fillings like “cinnamon sugar and apple raisin pie,” “cinnamon sugar and milk tart custard” or even “tomato lamb bredie with basil pesto.” Yum!
  • Biltong – All corners of South Africa will claim to make the best biltong and we have to agree that you can get great biltong everywhere! If you stay at Qwantani or Midlands Saddle & Trout, however, or you’re driving through Volksrust for any reason, make a trip to the Snowy Biltong Shop to try incredible smoked droëwors, thin and crunchy chilli-bites and skinless droëwors. They also have some of the best homemade rusks, koeksisters and melktart in the country!

KwaZulu-Natal

With so many cultures in KZN, there’s definitely something for everyone when it comes to cuisine. Have a look at these dishes worth trying from the berg to the beach…

  • Fresh Drakensberg Trout – Healthy and delicious, nothing beats a trout freshly caught from a clear mountain stream! This dish has been popular in England for centuries and the British settlers who introduced trout into KZN’s rivers definitely were onto something great!
  • Dombolo – In the Zulu culture these delicious dumplings are eaten often, and if you haven’t had them before, now’s the time. They go perfectly with hearty stews, ideal for this time of year!
  • Bunny Chow – Also sure to keep you warm is the famous (and infamous) bunny chow which can be found on most streets in Durban! There’s a wide range of fillings to choose between and you can go from mild, like a butter chicken curry, to extra hot, depending on how much spice you can handle.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this culinary trip around some of South Africa. Please tag us on photos of you trying new foods on your next holiday!

Also, look out for our next food blog (bonus edition) later this year – it’ll include recipes from our Group’s head chef 😊.

Until next time, always eat as the locals do!!!

Kiddies Paradise

If you’re after a mind-blowing family holiday or you want to go somewhere your children (or the children of people you usually travel with) will be kept very busy, then this blog definitely is for you! We’ve searched far and wide to find some of the most kid-friendly resorts in South Africa and the United Kingdom which are so great that everyone will have a magical time. In South Africa’s winter, you’ll be spoilt with sunny days, and in the United Kingdom’s summer too! So, get ready to rediscover your inner child in great sunny weather!

These resorts are very child-friendly and they have loads of kiddies activities on offer to keep the little ones busy all day long – so you can relax unless you are having too much fun by joining in yourself! An added bonus is that the kiddies will also be ready (and keen) for bed at the end of the day after running around so much – giving you a break from babysitting if that’s something you do often. So… here’s our list of places that are great for family fun at any time of the year.

Brockwood Hall – Whicham Valley, Cumbria, United Kingdom
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Summer in Cumbria is magical. Think warm sunny days, great forests for exploring, picturesque lakes for paddling on and a whole load of kiddies having incredible holidays in these special surroundings! 😊 Brockwood Hall really is one of the best places to go in Cumbria thanks to its ultra-comfortable accommodation with so much for kiddies to do. Staying in your own private lodge (some even have private hot tubs/Jacuzzis) in this amazing countryside setting, kids can swim in the heated indoor pool, run around the playground, hire bicycles, go on a lake cruise, horse riding or even ziplining! What more could you ask for in such a beautiful valley?!

Magalies Park – Hartbeespoort, North West
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Head to beautiful Hartbeespoort in their super sunny winter to discover one of South Africa’s best-kept secrets – Magalies Park. Here, lucky guests get to enjoy the resort’s wonderful splash zone, heated swimming pools, Jacuzzis, amazing staff and take part in canoeing or go on fun barge cruises along the river. If that wasn’t enough there’s also adventure golf, a trampoline, paintball, tennis, great daily entertainment in the amazing Fred First Kid’s Club and much more (PHEW, we need to take a breath!!). Plus, all of this takes place on a lush golfing and nature estate which has great views of nearby mountains and the impressive river – heaven on earth!

Gethlane Lodge – Burgersfort, Mpumalanga
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If going to the Bushveld is your thing, get over to Gethlane Lodge to enjoy their amazing game farm and resort which is one of the best children’s attractions in South Africa 😊 In this warm part of the world, kiddies get to enjoy long, sunny days spent floating around any of their many swimming pools or going down the water slides! Other great activities are game walks (you see more game in winter because the grass is shorter and leaves have fallen off the trees), relaxing in a Jacuzzi, having fun family times in their boma or in the amazing games room, and the list goes on. Most of all there is unmissable daily entertainment which will keep the whole family amused for hours. We think this resort is great because it allows you to get away from the city AND kids don’t have to miss out on having fun.

Bushman’s Nek Berg & Trout Resort – Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal
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There’s something special for little kiddies about running around in the mountains. Maybe it’s the fresh air, relaxing atmosphere and big spaces that gets them going or it could be the unique things that they can only enjoy when they are there that gets them excited. Well, Bushman’s Nek Berg & Trout Resort offers so much for kids to do (all in the beautiful Southern Drakensberg surroundings) including horse riding, swimming in a rock-hewn pool, taking part in quizzes and competitions, trout fishing and more! This resort must be one of the most peaceful places for adults to unwind too 😉

Midlands Saddle & Trout – Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal
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As its name goes, Midlands Saddle & Trout is more than amazing for horse riding and trout fishing 😊 The resort, tucked away in the beautiful Midlands surroundings, has magical rides on offer for guests of any ability. These go from a slow stroll around the peaceful resort to a long outride across the countryside! There’s also so much more for the little ones to enjoy, like adventure golf, a games room, the animal farm, tractor rides and we could go on and on! Great farm stalls, boutique shops, game farms and restaurants nearby also give the kiddies an endless selection of fun things to do – which they will love 😉

La Côte d’Azur – Margate, KwaZulu-Natal
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Maybe the most popular family holiday of all is a trip to the beach and La Côte d’Azur is one of the best destinations in South Africa, especially for children. It has stunning sea views, games that kids can play on the Blue Flag beach in front of the resort, an entertainment programme that seems to never end, a beautiful heated swimming pool and loads more! What’s also great about staying at La Côte d’Azur is that the nearby attractions are amazing at all times of the year. The Lake Eland Game Reserve, for example, can’t be missed (it has the longest zipline tour in Africa and a coffee shop with unbeatable views 😊). Spend some restful days lounging around the resort’s pool while you watch a throng of happy kiddies swamping the great entertainment team – just the way holidays should be 😉

We hope you try out some of these great resorts where you can enjoy a balance between fun and relaxing. After all, happy kiddies make for happy parents and grandparents – so going to these family-friendly destinations is a win-win for everyone!

Have enjoyable travels and please remember to share your holiday photos or stories with us on social media – seeing them is the highlight of our work week, every week!

Weird but wonderful things to pack

Hi Happy Travellers,

As you know, travelling is a journey… Not to find yourself, but to remember who you’ve been all along.

Travelling’s about taking the scenic route, it’s about the adventures of getting to your destination and it’s also about just being yourself once you’re there. Travel is about the amazing things that you can do once you arrive at your accommodation too, like days spent on beautiful beaches nearby, or hikes through cool forests that you’ve never seen before, having picnics at wonderful new places, seeing the sights that you’ve always wanted to, all because you decided to leave home to feel (and be) more yourself than ever before!

To help you on this fun journey, we’ve put together a list of 5 weird but wonderful things to pack so you don’t have that experience… “Just wish I had just packed X, Y and Z for this trip. They would have made things so much better – why didn’t I” which could really dampen your holiday.

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Of course, part of going on holiday is about getting away from your normal routine which also means you can’t have all your favourite things with you. But “making a plan” to use what you have is fun, it’s what travelling’s all about – to make the most of everything you have with you at the amazing places you travel to. That’s part of the magic of going on holiday, it makes us appreciate the little (but very special) things that we do have so much more.

So, here’s 5 strange or unusual things worth packing that could come in handy for your drive or flight, at your accommodation or on daily outings from there 😊 We’ve made sure these things are small so you can still travel light (we would never want to take that away from you 😉). Hopefully, some of these items will save the day, even if it’s in an unexpected make-a-plan kind of way!

Earplugs
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Some of us use these every night to get to sleep more easily but for the rest of us…
Earplugs are a great thing to take with on your holidays! You can use them while travelling (to sleep, if someone is snoring loudly on your plane, if it’s too noisy or even if you don’t like the music that someone else is playing in the car 😉. They can also help if there’s a noisy lawnmower nearby, while you’re trying to read! They’re also great to stop water from going in your ears when swimming, whether it’s at the pool, in a river you’ve hiked to or in the waves.

Adaptors
Adaptors
Maybe you always take an adaptor with you on holiday but most people don’t! This isn’t just for at your accommodation – do you know there are car chargers that can charge 2 or more phones or other devices at once?! So, you don’t need to swap one charger between different phones, your GPS or even your camera while driving because, with the right adaptors, you can charge them all at once! 😊 After all, you can never have enough plug points – especially on holiday!

Antihistamine
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This tip is for people who don’t have allergies and don’t normally travel with antihistamine! When you travel, you come across new plants and animals which could make you feel stuffy or have an allergic reaction, even if it’s never happened before. Another time that antihistamine can literally be a lifesaver, is when eating seafood. Some fish, when they grow older, start to build up histamine, and it’s common for people (who aren’t normally allergic to seafood) to have a strong allergic reaction to just that piece of fish! P.S. Google it if you don’t believe us 😉!

Bin bags or a laundry bag
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Again, maybe you do travel with these, but not everyone does! They’re great for collecting things like seashells or pinecones which you can use to decorate your home with when you get back. Bin bags are also great if it rains as a lightweight poncho – especially for camping, picnicking or if you’re at an outdoor concert. You can also use bin bags or a laundry bag to keep your dirty and clean clothes apart which helps on holiday and when you get home too!

Clothes Pegs
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In true make-a-plan fashion, these aren’t just for doing your laundry! Clothes pegs come in handy for loads of things like closing packets or bags, hanging up a cloth or towel to block light or stop the wind, hanging up art that a kiddie has just drawn on holiday (to make your accommodation feel even more like home), to use as a bookmark and we could go on and on…

Well, we hope these ideas help you to have even more comfortable and enjoyable travels in future! We wish you happy packing and even happier times on your next holiday!

Don’t forget, it’s all about the journey. Bye ‘til next time.

5 Unmissable Festivals

Travelling can be the most fun when it’s done to experience something unique. By “being there” for an annual event which is like no other (thanks to its rare tradition), you become part of its special history. What’s more, you don’t have to regret missing out on the fun or the inspiration that comes with taking part in something so memorable.

Here is a selection of festivals from around the globe which we think offers something for everyone. All of these festivals are large and popular (for different reasons) so you are sure to experience the WOW factor at all of them. Maybe it’s time to try out something new? After all, travel broadens the mind and having fun is just… FUN!

Sky Lantern Festival – Taiwan
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Our calendar of must-see festivals begins in February at the Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan. This peaceful festival has been going for thousands of years, with its tradition starting somewhere between 300BC and 200AD! Lanterns were originally used by towns and the military to signal danger or safety to others and we’re all really lucky that this wonderful tradition has been kept alive.

Travel to the island of Taiwan to be filled with fuzzy, happy feelings while watching tens of thousands of lanterns float off, illuminating the night sky (I wouldn’t want to have a thatch roof there)! The festival often has wonderful fireworks displays as a cherry on the top.

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R14 500 per person sharing

Valid from 01 – 28 February 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation in Taipei
  • Daily breakfast
  • Enjoy releasing a sky lantern at Shifen and visit Ningxia Night Market to experience the nightlife of Taipei

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

Rio Carnival – Brazil
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From a very peaceful celebration, we move south to Rio de Janeiro for an event that is definitely more boisterous! The Rio Carnival takes place just before Lent each year where millions (yes, millions!) of tourists flock to the sunny paradise for days filled with entertainment. Bright outfits and loud music fill the beachside streets in this incredible celebration.

When you are there make sure you take part in loads of outdoor dance classes as dancing and music are what this festival is really about. If dancing isn’t something you’d like to do, simply witnessing this amazing sight which attracts around 2 million people each day will definitely give you loads of life-long memories.

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R13 900 per person sharing

For departures 01 March – 10 March 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation at the Copacabana Rio Hotel
  • Daily breakfast
  • Estimated airport taxes

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

St. Patrick’s Day – Ireland
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If the Rio Carnival sounds like it may be a bit too loud for you, consider heading over to Ireland to take part in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on 17 March every year. Don’t expect this celebration to be any less festive though, as the Irish really love to celebrate the death of their foremost patron saint (Saint Patrick)!

The festival, which is all about dressing up in green clothing, drinking Guinness beer and eating good food, has become so popular that it is now the most widely celebrated national festival in the world! So, why not head over to Dublin to experience the real thing in March next year?

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R14 500 per person sharing

Valid for departure 10 March 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation in Dublin
  • Daily breakfast
  • Skip the queue at the Guinness Storehouse

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

Oktoberfest – Germany
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The Munich Bierfest really is a sight to behold! Millions of visitors go to the wonderfully decorated festival grounds in Munich for non-stop entertainment that runs every day for 16 consecutive days in September/October each year. What many people don’t realise is that this spectacle isn’t just about beer! There is a theme park where kiddies can have an amazing time and the great food is also a big part of Bierfest tradition, with pretzels, sausages and chickens the order of the day.

If you are up for a lot of socializing, some bumper cars, large crowds of merry people and Bavarian outfits then this is the festival for you.

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R16 300 per person sharing

Valid for departure 20 September 2018, strictly for under 35s.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation in Munich
  • Daily breakfast
  • Transfers to and from the festival

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival – South Africa
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Taking place in March every year, normally around Human Rights Day – 21 March, people come together on the streets of Cape Town to embrace different cultures in a very festive musical extravaganza! Visitors get to enjoy the sounds of world-class jazz (of course) and performances of blues, bluegrass and Ghoema can also be heard.

Part of the magic of this festival is the free outdoor concert, in Greenmarket Square, which is an unmissable event thanks to amazing weather, a vibrant crowd and some of the best jazz on the planet. A huge number of performances can also be enjoyed, in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, over two days which never fail to sell out!

Make March 2019 a magical month by heading to Cape Town to experience this gathering of talented, entertaining performers in the Mother City’s beautiful surroundings.

Our Package For You:
3 nights from R5 300 per person sharing

Valid from 01 March – 31 March 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 3 nights’ accommodation in Cape Town
  • Daily breakfast
  • 1-Day Hop on hop off City Sightseeing bus ride
  • Estimated airport taxes

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

We hope this blog has inspired you to try something new which will be fun, entertaining, fulfilling and more! These festivals capture the beauty, passion and love of some truly unique cultures so why not have a mind-blowing experience where you’ll get to learn and understand more about these great traditions? Happy travels!!

FUN FIT FAB

Who doesn’t like to go on a holiday? The chance to have an enjoyable break from your usual routine by getting away somewhere special is something that we all love to do.

On trips like these sightseeing or relaxing are often top-of-mind but for most of us staying fit definitely isn’t important. Here are some ideas about getting fit on holiday (enjoyably), while having enough time to do everything else that you were looking forward to doing.

Attack the day

WAIT! Before you shut down your computer or turn off your phone please hear us out. Yes… we are suggesting waking up early on holiday but we are not asking you to do this every day of your trip.

Once you’ve arrived and settled down in your accommodation, have a look at a weather report and pick the best mornings of your trip to wake up early. Then see how each evening pans out and only get up early the next day if you haven’t had a really late night (see, we aren’t being drill sergeants here). So, on those one or two mornings you do wake up early, why not take in the perfect weather and peaceful early morning surroundings with a bit of healthy exercise? Exploring on long walks or cycling are great ways to do this. You can either explore starting from your accommodation or you might want to travel to a place of interest and then walk or cycle around there.

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This is one of the best ways to discover great sights which could even include beautiful streets that you normally wouldn’t have come across. In large mountain ranges like the Drakensberg, you might even find a mountain stream or river that you could have an early morning dip in. If you are at the beach, a swim in the waves is one of the best ways to freshen up and start your day well. After that, head home for a well-deserved coffee, brunch or even an early nap before enjoying the rest of the day.

Use nature as your gym

Wherever you decide to go on holiday, even if it is in the middle of a large city, there will always be loads of “natural gym equipment” for you to use. Large tree roots can be the perfect place for some push-ups, stairs are great for a leg workout and there’s always a rock lying around that can be picked up or even “bench pressed” if you are feeling up to it! Don’t forget that a simple lawn is great for doing some yoga.

If those activities sound like too much of an effort (or not enough fun), having a swim in a pool, dam or the ocean is an incredible workout. It doesn’t have to be strenuous and it doesn’t have to be for ages either but a little splash around works more muscles than any other workout! You can even float your way to better health as staying warm in water burns loads of calories. Now doesn’t that sound like a plan?!

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Go to a local gym

Ok, maybe you just rolled your eyes… especially if you’ve never been to a gym before. Respecting that we won’t go any further for those readers who are “allergic” to gyms. For the gym lovers out there, however, why not have a great workout at the nearest local gym? You should be able to pay per visit or there may even be a discounted bundle rate. After a great workout food will taste that much better, you’ll enjoy your naps even more and you’ll also sleep better at night.

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Sleep well

We just felt your relief, in fact… was that you that we just heard sighing?!

“Now this is something that I can enjoy doing” is what you are probably thinking and that’s great because sleeping well has a number of major health benefits. Only two-thirds of all adults get enough sleep and going on holiday is a perfect chance to catch up if you are behind on sleep. A great sleep allows your muscles to heal, it gives your mind a much-needed break and it helps to increase your energy levels for the following day (for more exercise)!

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We hope that these ideas help you to enjoy your holidays even more. Being fresh from a great sleep, yoga or a de-stressing workout will only help you to feel better… which will help you to enjoy the rest of your holiday even more. Why not indulge in that 3rd crumpet if you’ve earned it with an early morning stroll?

Happy travels everyone. We hope that by following these tips your holidays have an interesting new side to them and that you return home happier and healthier than ever before. Break a leg 😉

Fashionably Free Fun

Time spent with kids or grandkids is always special. Although they can demand quite a lot of energy (wanting to do every possible activity) it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to entertain them.

Here’s our guide to keeping kiddies very happy… without breaking the bank.

Fill a time capsule – Now this is fun, especially if you keep visiting the same resort of ours over and over!

Get everyone involved in creating a time capsule – which could include letters to your future self, a recent newspaper, photographs, your favourite CD (if you still use them) or maybe even a USB that is full of things you love. Kids will definitely love getting involved in this and the anticipation when they return to find the time capsule is always such fun. Just don’t forget to dig it up! Keeping this in mind, please chat with the Manager at the resort to see if he/she is happy with you burying your time capsule on the property. If not, bury it somewhere you always visit while on holiday like at a dam you often visit or along a hiking trail that you enjoy walking.

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When entertaining kids at home, do a clean-up of your neighbourhood or visit people in need – Teach your kids a bit of social responsibility while getting them to appreciate what they have. South Africa, for example, is covered in litter and it’s damaging our beautiful planet at an alarming rate. Get out with the kids and show them how to give back to the community by doing something like cleaning up – they will feel great afterwards! Another thing you can do, which may not be 100% free but can be affordable, is take them to spend some time with people or animals who might be less fortunate, such as an orphanage or an SPCA. Take something small with you to donate, maybe even some things you have lying around the house that you don’t use anymore? This will help them to appreciate what they have, they will learn something in the process and you never know – they may want to start doing things like this more often. There is no better feeling than giving to those in need!

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Play board games – What could be better than watching your children or grandchildren work out a puzzle or problem? For some of us, maybe choosing to beat them (if we are feeling slightly mean) might be better 😉  but hey, the age-old pass time of board games is definitely not enjoyed often enough! In this techno-everything world, be one of the reasons that your children appreciate interacting with each other by teaching them how fun this competitive form of entertainment can be. Games like Jenga, Monopoly and 30 Seconds can give you hours of entertainment whether you are at home or on holiday somewhere. Top tip: When you are at one of our resorts, ask Reception what board games you can borrow.

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Read your favourite children’s story – Books should be read to children on holiday – they aren’t just for school after all. For a child or grandchild, the person reading the story to them is just as important as the story itself. Give them these super happy memories by reading whatever they would be interested to hear (hopefully, a story that you are also fond of). Their reactions might just entertain you more than you expected. So don’t forget to make use of the great libraries at our properties!

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Make homemade greeting cards – This activity really is a great thing to do. By making cards with your kids or grand-kids, you’re fostering their creativity, allowing them to appreciate how sentimental cards can be and… you can use the unique cards next time you need some 😉 What’s also great about card making is that they can be kept, a wonderful way for your kiddies to hold onto the special times that they’ve enjoyed with you. Another great thing about making cards is that you can do it anywhere! So don’t forget to pack your supplies when visiting one of our properties!

Have a photo-taking competition – When you’re on holiday at one of our resorts, take your kids or grand-kids on a walk around the property to take snaps of things that you have nominated as landmarks. If they love technology, maybe bring it into the mix by using Instagram to share your photo taking competition – you never know how many people might take interest in your adventure! You can even ask the kids to walk around the garden, taking imaginative images of what they see around them, before posting the photos on Instagram to see who gets the most likes 😊 AND the winner can get a prize.

If your kids are too small to be on social media, you can still teach them how a camera works by walking around one of our resorts, taking pictures of what you come across and showing them how the photos come out. They will be absolutely enthralled! If that sounds like too much energy, download the Snapchat app and have some fun taking images of yourselves pulling funny faces with the creative filters you can find in the app. It’s sure to have tears running down your face from laughter!

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Play hopscotch & other outdoor games – Unfortunately, these days, lots of kids don’t spend enough time outside – playing in the sun. Take them back to the good old days by locking those phones/tablets/laptops away to get outside for some catch, cricket or hopscotch. They may complain for the first 10 minutes but the fresh air and family laughs will definitely put a smile on their faces, PLUS you will have some fun stories to talk about around the dinner table. “Remember that time James fell while trying to catch the ball?”… and the whole family will laugh and reminisce 😉

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We hope this helps you plan for when the little ones visit or go on holiday with you – it’s always a good idea to plan ahead and have a few activities lined up. Making things even better, these activities don’t cost much to do and they are great for getting kids to do healthy things that they might miss out on in their normal routines.

Stay Connected

For some of us, going to the farthest corner of the globe to get away from it all sounds like absolute bliss. For the more tech and social media-savvy, this could be a real nightmare as staying in touch with your besties or followers is not negotiable!

Here are some ideas on how to stay connected with the special people in your life while having a great time on holiday… After all, sharing is caring.

Check-in on social media

So, you’ve just arrived and your chalet or apartment has a magical view of the shimmering ocean. You want to capture and share how super spacious it is along with describing the feeling of liberation that you have from being away from the hustle and bustle of city life and your usual routine. Without a doubt, this is something really special to share with your friends and family online – simply inquire at Reception to get the WiFi password, switch on “location” on your smartphone, snap a selfie and do a Facebook check-in. Don’t forget to add your quirky caption and tag the resort you are at.

If you are after being even more connected than that, use Spaces to spend some time with any of your friends (wherever they are on earth) in your holiday accommodation! Spaces uses virtual reality to create live-streaming holograms (in a virtual reality space) of people you are connected with. Isn’t that cool?!

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Snap, share and socialise

Now the real fun starts. You begin receiving messages which are from friends around the globe who are super happy for you after seeing your check-in online. It seems like your Facebook check-in managed to create major hype and the love from your friends just does not stop coming in. They request ongoing updates about your day ahead and they especially ask for a Facebook Live video so that they can share in all the adventures that lie ahead. With so much to see and discover here’s how you can embrace your experience whilst staying in touch:

  • Go on a fun photo-taking spree, capturing the special moments of saddling up for a horse ride, driving around the scenic surroundings, and enjoying a game drive. With augmented reality filters, you can even use a special chip on new cell phone models to project an image of a celebrity sitting or standing next to you. This cool trick will let you take photos featuring whoever you like that look real.
  • Gather the pictures from your day and if you are feeling creative, use a grid application to make a collage of your photo memories. This can be shared later from the comfort of your apartment or chalet
  • Upload these images onto Facebook and tag your travel mates
  • Caption and share each special moment.

Don’t forget, you’ve done a good deed by sharing your experience on our Facebook pages as other travellers can use this information to make the best possible decisions about their future holidays.

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Create your own hashtag

Share a glimpse of your travel destination on Instagram with other social media enthusiasts by telling a story through your pictures LIVE. You can do this while experiencing a barge cruise, admiring the breathtaking scenery or just relaxing on a lounger sipping your favourite cocktail – it’s very easy. Make whatever hashtag you like but try to make it catchy while having some fun!  You can even engage with any friends who might be online with an instastory (a slideshow of your favourite images) that captures your wonderful holiday destination and if they love your images, they can save them too. Using a hashtag will give you the chance to be featured on social media pages to be seen by all of their followers.

Video calling

Sometimes being away from loved ones can make us feel slightly gloomy. Don’t despair because a video call allows you to share your special moments LIVE, which brings you closer together!  These two-way live videos are ideal for situations such as when the kids are playing a round of adventure golf and you want loved ones who are further away to see just how much fun the kids are having. If that wasn’t enough a new social media experience, thanks to Houseparty, allows you to make conference video calls, so you can chat with loads of friends at the same time. This allows you to chat with special people who couldn’t make the trip, all at the same time!

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@HolidayRetweet

Of course, you can upload and share your pictures on Twitter but how about engaging with like-minded people who have travelled to the same holiday destination as you? Twitter loves hashtags and by searching for any of our resorts, you will find all the information you need to plan your next holiday. To make your tweets more fun, customise your own new filters (we’ve all seen the doggie ears on photos a million times now!) to give your photos a unique, interesting look.

When you’re spoilt for choice on which activities to choose between, create a “tweet poll” and allow your friends and fellow travellers to vote for what they feel is your best option.  All it will take is a few tweets and you’ll have an awesome day that includes some things which you ordinarily wouldn’t have done – variety is the spice of life!

Blog it

You must have heard of blogs or maybe you’ve even read a few. Be sure to know that it’s not over (in the social media universe) until its blogged. Why? Because sharing your experience and giving it a personal touch allows you to feel the holiday spirit while elaborating on your travel experiences for your readers. Blogging for the first time about a holiday could be the beginning of something BIG. You can even use your blog as an online journal or scrapbook, allowing you to look back and reflect on the special memories which remind you of how it all began. When planning your next trip referring back to some of this information might come in handy too.

In the online world we live in, sharing experiences while living in the moment allows you to stop, play and replay. Your breaks may even become more enjoyable and meaningful than before by sharing them with loved ones or like-minded people. See… it pays to stay connected.

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Happy travels everyone. Make sure you share them with all your favourite people including us!

Travelling on a budget

The festive season has come and gone and wow was it a great time. We hope that our tips on how to make it really festive worked out well!

That said, with the New Year ahead of us, it’s back to our normal routines and for most of us that means cutting back on expenses until our next salary comes in. To make things a little easier, here are some ideas on how to have an amazing holiday in the next couple of months without breaking the bank…

Travelling on a budget:

Fortunately for all of us, a couple of low season/off-peak months lie ahead which means that there are a whole lot of benefits to travelling now. Flights, car hire, accommodation, tours, entertainment and much more will all cost less – not to mention that your chosen destination will be quieter and less congested, which means better access to the best activities while you are there!

Travelling lightly comes with a number of perks from avoiding the cost for overweight luggage when flying, to hiring smaller (and less expensive) vehicles, causing less pollution and having more space to take mementos home with you at the end of your well-deserved break.

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For those of you that just love cooking, here are a couple of tasty ways to travel for less:

  • First of all, travel with some homemade snacks that are perfectly suited to the journey. Biscuits, biltong, deluxe sandwiches and fruit like apples are pretty easy to eat en route. This will save you the cost of fast-food bought at petrol stations along the way or food and drinks bought on the plane (if they aren’t included).
  • Consider staying in self-catering accommodation where you can shop locally for fresh, in-season food which hasn’t been imported (thus costing less, supporting local jobs and saving the planet at the same time) and have some fun cooking up delicious meals that will cost far less than eating out.
  • Should you get a craving for local cuisine, consider trying out some of the restaurants that locals usually eat at. These are often found in suburbs or smaller towns rather than around the tourist hotspots. These hidden gems also usually have a more traditional and authentic offering!

For the tech-savvy, using free travel apps can save you a whack of money in a number of ways. First of all, you can save the money that you would have spent on travel guides. You can also get vouchers on the apps for restaurants and live entertainment. Otherwise picnicking, taking part in a volunteer programme over part of your holiday to have your trip subsidised, shopping at the cheapest destinations along your trip, using public transport, and travelling with a partner are all ways to travel for less.

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Saving money before you travel:

Open a dedicated savings account
This is one of the most effective ways to save money for great holidays. As we all know, waiting until you get the holiday bug, and then using whatever money you have in your bank account to pay for it, can cause major problems if any unexpected expenses arise. Save for your holidays methodically.

If you do decide to book a holiday on a whim, make sure that you don’t get charged any penalties for negative account balances as you don’t want to be spending money on anything but a holiday! Also, download your bank’s app onto your phone, so you can plan and budget during your trip. This will help you to keep track of your balance, do internet banking and make transfers if need be.

The good old change jar
We just heard you laugh! Yes, we know having a jar or piggy bank for loose change is outdated – but it works! You can even decorate the jar or piggy bank in a way that describes your holiday – helping you to save, and it will look great, getting you excited for your holiday every time you look at it. Just make sure you can’t take any money out of it on those rainy days – as you might regret this. 😉 You could even add a few notes to the jar or piggy bank each time you’re in the holiday spirit. 😉

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Get everyone saving
You’ve heard the saying – ‘Many hands make light work.’ Well, the same thing applies to saving for travel – the more you encourage other friends or family members to save, the more activities you can take part in during your holiday. Maybe even make everyone a change jar (as mentioned above) so that they can save money in the same way. Then make a game out of it – whoever saves the least has to buy a round of drinks when your long-awaited holiday arrives. Sounds fair, right? 😉

Reduce your electricity and water bills
Due to the fact that there is a huge water crisis in SA at the moment, most of us are making efforts to reduce our water usage already – but what could motivate you to save harder than an upcoming holiday? Firstly, take note of how much you are paying for water and electricity at the moment… and then start changing your habits and routines to reduce your consumption. Switching lights (that aren’t required) off and having quick showers are easy ways to do this. Now compare your previous bills and put the balance (what you’ve saved) towards your next amazing holiday.

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We hope these tips help you save as we want you to have the best experiences possible!

Add the festive to the season

‘Tis nearly the season to be jolly and we’d love to share some suggestions that will bring an extra sparkle to your December holidays, whether you are spending them at home or travelling. With the year winding down, now is the time to take those small steps that will make a BIG difference when your long-awaited December break arrives.

Staying at home:

As the holidays often mean spending time with family and friends, why not book tickets to some awesome events or make a reservation to eat out at that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try for years, but have never got around to it? This really is the best time of the year to try out new things. Surprising a group of friends or family with luxurious La Vita Spa treatments would surely go down a treat, wouldn’t it?!

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Other great events for you, your family and your friends to go to include: Summer cricket series, the ballet, stand-up comedy evenings or live concerts in some of South Africa’s most picturesque parks (a perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening snacking on a good old cheeseboard)! There really is something on offer for everyone at this crazy time of year, so get yourself to the front of the queue, by making a couple of reservations now. You might just become everyone’s hero for getting tickets to that soon to be sold-out event.

If A LOT of relaxing is what’s in store for you, why not plan some fun things to do at home?  These could include:

  • Getting hold of sentimental recipes – even if they are for someone else to follow.
  • Bringing out your favourite video footage of that highly entertaining thing that you did decades ago!
  • Hosting braais or fun family dinners with your favourite music playing in the background are also great things to organise before the holidays start.
  • Gift-wrapping presents, decorating your house or a tree to a festive theme, getting busy with arts and crafts, building a slip-and-slide for the kiddies or buying that perfect DVD to watch when all of your family and friends are over.
  • And if that all sounds like too much work, maybe buy a hammock, some beanbags or a relaxing soundtrack which will all help you to hibernate your way through the holidays!

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Whatever it is that would make your holidays more magical, why not get up and make sure that your dreams are fulfilled. After all, it will only take one phone call to book that trip of a lifetime to one of our brilliantly located resorts 😉

Travelling over the festive season:

If travelling during the festive season is what is on the cards for you, then you have come to the right place. Not only will we help you find the perfect holiday for you and your family, we will also give you some tips on how to keep things festive during your stay with us! The staff at all of our destinations will be getting into the festive mood, aiming to make your stay merry and special – but there are ways of doing this yourself as well.

Make your family a delicious, festive meal:
The holiday period is all about spending time with family, enjoying a few laughs together and, of course, eating some good food. Don’t let this tradition stop because you are away from home. We have a lot of self-catering units at our properties that give you the freedom to have a blissful time – so you will be able to make that traditional lunch you enjoy having with your family every year. But also, if you are wanting to take a break from the kitchen, our properties have scrumptious restaurants which would be delighted to serve you a holiday meal! Alternatively, our Reception staff will be more than happy to recommend excellent local and nearby restaurants that you are sure to love – but be sure to book in advance, as you don’t want to miss out on an amazing dining experience.

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Decorations:
Decorations really make holiday time special. No matter what you believe in, which religion you follow or what your traditions are – sparkling lights and candles are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! There is something so special and festive about walking into a room that is decorated, even in the slightest manner.  So don’t forget to pack a few festive decorations before your journey, to ensure that your suite, apartment, chalet, etc. will bring joy to you and your guests.

Join in the festivities:
The wonderful staff members at our properties always get really involved and excited about the festive season and they plan a lot of activities to get you into the festive spirit. Join in the fun! Take part in that karaoke night or make sure to mingle at the properties’ events. You are guaranteed to meet a variety of wonderful people and have a great time.

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Check out the local tourist attractions:
Most of our properties are ideally located to explore the area around you, being in close proximity to towns and areas you wouldn’t usually explore on your own – and most of these places have amazing festive events planned. Make sure that you do a bit of research about the community you are visiting before your trip – there may be a Carols by Candlelight event which you may really enjoy or a festive market with local cuisine and perfect gifts for your loved ones. You never know!

We hope you have an amazing festive season this year, whether you are at home or travelling to one of our holiday destinations. Please stay safe, spread the love and happiness, and most of all – have a great time!

Don’t forget to share your holiday images with us on social media using #FirstGroup…we would love to see them!

P.S.: Happy New Year too!