10 Small Town Mistakes we make

10 small town mistakes

Traveling is one big adventure, they say. And honestly, it is because what’s an adventure without things going wrong, right?

I made many mistakes when it comes to our small town travels, I just can’t recall them all. From packing in clothing because it’s cold in Cape Town but forgetting it’s hot and dry in Karoo towns, thinking all places open on a Monday when many towns start their week on a Wednesday and, assuming all roads are tarred.

But that’s the beauty of travel. The constant trial and error, mind-mapping your new terrain and, always wanting the sense of exploring more. Here are 10 mistakes I still make while traveling:

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.

1. Never having cash

Living in the city, I never walk around with cash. It’s only my bank card or making use of apps like SnapScan. However, in many small towns, little shops or remote farm stalls don’t have card facilities so cash is the only way of paying. I can’t recall the times I had to turn around when a shop sign says, “Cash only”.

2. Never filling up

One thing we do well is filling up before hitting the long road. One thing we just assume is that every small town or an area that has a few houses will have a petrol station. WRONG!

The number of times we cut it short is astonishing. We stayed at a place called Draaihoek Lodge in Elands Bay with one-third of a tank. We decided to explore the hub of Elands Bay which is 22.5 km away. Off we drove with Google Maps as our guide only for the petrol station to have moved and we knew the next station is in Lamberts Bay. Luckily, after asking a local, we managed to find a two-pump station in the nick of time.

3. Not all roads are paved

Having a low clearance car has its challenges like avoiding gravel. We had many car parts replaced like our exhaust, water pump, and tires due to big boulders in our pathway.

I dedicate lots of time to sit on google; figuring out if the area we exploring is tarred or not. Sometimes, I contact fellow bloggers who traveled there before to ask for advice or, search up reviews.

Take McGregor. The main roads are tarred but the roads between the houses are gravel. Or, the road between Steytlerville in the Eastern Cape and Willowmore, it’s laid out with slabs; allowing one car at the time.

4. Don’t over-plan but don’t under-plan either

Trying to plan a full itinerary that’s jam-packed with places to visit sounds great yet overwhelming. Rather write down just enough activities to do but leave room to be spontaneous by asking locals what their favourite spots to visit might be.

5. Cell phones don’t work everywhere

Really small towns don’t have cell phone towers so having a signal on some or your entire trip is something you will experience. Don’t panic as I did in Durban. If you need reception because of work purposes, either contact your accommodation to make sure or, stay in another town. Honestly, being off the grid can be a great thing too. Just try it!

6. Download Google Maps

If you using Google Maps as a GPS on your phone and you find yourself with no network connection, it’s best to download Google Maps; a great feature to have when your Internet is down or slow.

However, the map does expire after 30 days and, keep in mind that with Google Maps offline mode you won’t get everything Google Maps has to offer. Offline maps won’t have information such as bike routes, walking directions, transit details (along with its alternate routes) lane guidance, and all those goodies that make Google Maps stand out.

7. Make sure your car is Roadworthy

Whether you are planning a two-hour trip or a seven-hour long drive, make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. Check your tire pressure, wheel alignment, water tank, shocks, or even your motor, just have it checked out by a mechanic before hitting the long road. Arrive Alive is the motto.

8. Don’t assume everything is always open

One thing I learned that regardless of what the website might say, places aren’t always open. Small towns like Prince Albert only start their weekday on Wednesdays so Sunday to Tuesday, many stores aren’t open. Or, a place might’ve closed for the day without any notice. Just keep an open mind when planning your travel itinerary.

9. Dine less; it’s expensive

Traveling is not free. You pay for a bunch of items like fuel, accommodation, and food. Food can get really expensive if you planning to eat out three times a day. Be money savvy by booking a self-catering getaway, get food at the local grocery, and whip up a 30-minute dish.

If I’m doing a weekend getaway, we eat out for lunch, and before leaving the town, grab a quick coffee and a slice of cake before heading home.

10. Don’t Overpack

This isn’t only for clothing but if you’re doing a road trip, it applies to everything you’re bringing along. When we plan trips, each person is only allowed one bag, one bag for gadgets and equipment and, a basket filled with luxuries and drinks.

Try to have a checklist and don’t overload the car with unnecessary items you really don’t require on your trip.

What other small town mistakes would you include?

Watch my 10 Small Town Travel Mistakes on my YouTube Channel

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Till the next small town.

Stephanie Marthinus Blog


10 Small Town Mistakes