When it comes to travelling I am an unapologetic opportunistic… this means that if an opportunity arrises to travel then I will be ready and gone in a flash. It also means that months can go by without an opportunity, which is fine, and also we can have a month or two when we are hardly home at all. The things is I realised that we hadn’t had a family holiday for ages. And we needed one, a complete “out of the house, away from all things schools and chores.” When friends, who live in the city, suggested we do a house swap, it was an opportunity that we couldn’t resist and of course we jumped at the chance. We have a long wish list of places to see and visit in the city and we never get to go there… firstly traveling in and out of the city, not to mention finding parking, is a schlepp and secondly we always say we will head into to the city for the day, but we never ever get around to it.
For the folk who read our blog from the far side of the world and are stopping by to look for things to do in Cape Town, Cape town is bigger and expanding faster than most folk can imagine. In fact, it is probably better to think of the City of Cape Town, that has a sprawling community all the way down the coastline, as little town after little town, and each with their own personality. Certainly for us we hardly ever venture further north than our seaside town, meanwhile our City centre is packed with excitement and wonderful things to do and see. So we headed for the city, and remember that there are ten of us… so budget travel is a priority… we are on the hunt for cool things to do… holiday specials and kid friendly outings. The opportunity to spend a week, a kid friendly holiday in the centre of Cape Town, was one that we grabbed with both hands.
How to Up Your Staycation Strategy Anywhere and Especially Cape Town
- Accommodation: To make a holiday feel like a holiday it really helps to change location, and even though we weren’t going away, per se, we could change location with a house swap. For us moving location was critical… we couldn’t possibly afford accommodation for ten of us in the city… but we could fit all of us into into a friend’s house in the name of an adventure. For sure. We have in the past had “a week of outings’ and that worked well, but being out of your own space… means none of the usual chores. Yes folk still had to make their beds and clean the bathroom and so on, but somehow chores in someone else’s house are a lot more fun and we kept them to an absolute minimum. The joy was that we were in the city… we could just walk around, or use public transport to get around, with out the normal hour long drive in and out of the city beforehand.
- Don’t Worry too Much About Packing: My kids always pack for themselves… and with a Staycation I didn’t have to worry at all about if they had got it right or not… the worst that could happen is that we would have to drive home and collect something vital. Turns out we only needed a change of clothes… because other folks’ games and books and things to do are always much more interesting than your own. Not to mention we planned to be out a lot of the time… we only had to touch base at our temporary home to recover from one outing in time to head out on another.
- Create Your Wishlist: Nothing like a family meeting to raise excitement somewhat and then give everyone a chance to make suggestions of things you was to see and do. We grouped our list of places we wanted to go and things we wanted to do and see into neighbour hoods. Then we made a list of opening times, ticket prices and any special events or any special deals. As soon as we had a clear idea of places we wanted to visit we were able to plan our days accordingly… we just picked a different neighbourhood each day and tackled all the sights there. Along with the places we wanted to see we discovered a whole lot of new places too… the trick is to schedule a little less and wander a little more!!!
- Look for the Seasonal Specials: We took our break during the Winter school holidays, which is something we wouldn’t usually do… we almost always make full use of the homeschool advantage, that we don’t have to do everything in the school holidays. But Cape Town has some fantastic unmissable specials for kids during Winter. Keep in mind that our winter is very mild compared to winter around the world and you will see from our photographs that we had clear skies and glorious sunshine the entire week. The City Sightseeing Tours have a three for one special, and most places encourage you to buy your tickets online, to take advantage of their online discount. Another tip is to take a visit to a tourist information stand… on your first day. Nobody wants to discover something magical that they wished they had seen on the last day. Collect a couple of pamphlets… and linger a little… tourist offices are a fabulous resource that we often overlook… it is a good thing to be a tourist in your own town!!!
- Free Walking Tours: One of the easiest ways to get a feel for the city is to take a walking tour. Our first day in the city we did just that, getting the lay of the land so to speak. Most cities have free walking tours as a showcase for visitors to the city… Cape Town has a number of them, run by the City Sightseeing South Africa. and they have been on our wishlist for years… we did all of them… and they deserve their own entire blog post. The Walking tours last for 90 minutes, and the centre of town is pretty compact, so you aren’t walking far… it is more of a stop than a walk, as you stop and chat about landmarks through out the tour. We did learn a whole lot of interesting factoids and gleaned a number of tips for visiting our city at the same time. Really these were pretty fantastic… a safe and informative way to wander about the city, and did I mention free!!!
- You can still do your usual stuff: Just because you are on the far side of the city doesn’t mean that you can’t stick to your usual routine. Visit a different library, and the central library in Cape town is fabulous, always hosting great story times… and a fabulous kid section to chill out in and read when you need a break from rushing around. If your family does a ParkRun on a Saturday morning, go online and see if there isn’t a Parkrun on the far side of town… in our case there is.
- Eat Where the Locals Eat: I know, I am a mom of many and so I must love preparing 30 meals a day… at least, every day. Turns out I really rather fancy taking a break from time to time. I certainly did not plan to spend my holiday in the kitchen… really easy meals, nothing too planned or prepared in advance. Just really relaxed feasting and keeping it galactically simple, and hand over all the dinner duties in the kitchen to your kids for a couple of nights… they will relish the chance and as long as they leave the kitchen as clean as they found it, they can do it the next night as well. When we were out and about in the city we found places where the locals eat and bought a picnic… at the Waterfront and in the City Centre there are supermarkets where you can buy regularly priced food to create an instant picnic, something I would much rather do than try and eat take-outs and blow half a years food budget in a week. That being said we do have a splurge once while we are away and I make sure I have a supply of ice-cream money for at least one day. Because lets face it, ice cream makes the world go round.
- Don’t forget Downtime: The entire point of going away is to have a complete break. Really!!! You are taking a vacation, and I have to say that I have never arrived on holiday without being totally exhausted… the first day we scheduled absolutely nothing… explore the massive garden, read and play and watch a movie even unlimited screen time for those of us who need it, which is an unheard of treat. It turned out that the house we were staying in didn’t have working internet… I was planning to blog every evening and head out into the city each day… turns out that there was no internet and so no work got done… I was in bed early each night and refreshed and ready to enjoy the following day with our gang. I am just suggesting that whenever you go away on holiday that you actually just lose the internet for a couple of days… the internet won’t miss you and you will feel so much better for it.