Because I can’t promise I will not be going back there anytime soon, I can say, “Hello, my name is Evenes and I am addicted to the beautiful Mpumalanga.” We went in April and then again in December and I am not the only one in the family that wants to go back. We all want to go back.
In December, we went to Marloth Park and stayed at 751 Jackal owned by Lydia. She was the best hostess ever. We really enjoyed our stay and the the accommodation was just what we needed. The unit is well furnished with good quality furniture and the kitchen also well stocked with enough pots, pans, plates and cups. The fridge was big enough for a big family like mine which made sense for a self catering unit and we didn’t need to be going to the grocery stores for supplies too often. In fact, if I were to book the same place, I would buy most of the things needed in Johannesburg because the foodstuff there is quite pricey.
We drove down to Marloth Park in Mpumalanga on the 13th of December, just after schools closed so that we would miss the holiday rush around Christmas. We had to take two cars because all 7 of us could not fit into one car. Our cars are small and hiring a bigger car was going to to be more costly. We had invited my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law over from Zimbabwe for this holiday and one thing I overlooked when making the booking is how we were going to get there. I looked for a unit that will accommodate 7 people and only afterwards did I try and think of how we were going to get there. In the end, the two cars worked out just fine and we had a beautiful holiday.
Now let me share with you how I still afford a holiday on a budget considering the harsh economic times we are in. And I strongly believe, holidays are so important once in a while. Besides going home for Christmas, going on holiday where you can switch off and just relax is so important especially if you work and grind in the city like my family. You need to recharge and reconnect with you inner being. I know a lot of us can’t afford a holiday and I am in that place as well but here is how I do it.
How to afford a holiday on a budget.
- I plan a holiday way in advance. As in way, way in advance. We also only go on holiday once every 2 years. One year we go home to be with family and the other we go out on holiday to a proper holiday destination.
- So, in the 2 years, I am planning on where to go and what to do.
- I have also subscribed on several travel booking websites which offer discounts from time to time, like booking.com, Travel Start and Afristay. For the stay in Marloth Park, I booked via Afristay and only paid a deposit of R820 in August 2018 instead of R2020 because I had a R1200 voucher. How awesome is that?
- Because I book quite in advance for the accommodation and activities if any, I only pay the deposit. Many accommodation places have a cancellation policy that include financial penalties. If something happens and we cannot go for the holiday then, I know I would have only lost the deposit and not the full amount. I only pay the full amount when I am at the venue or the day we will be checking in.
- I take the time to look for a good deal. And a good deal is when the place does not charge per person but per unit, as long as the number of persons is what the unit can accommodate. Where we stayed, the charge was per unit and that for me was a good deal.
- I choose a self catering lodge always. Cooking and doing dishes when on holiday is no issue for me. Besides, family members help out. 2 of my boys are big now and they love cooking. It’s only the dishes I am left with. And we also do braai dinners a lot when out. That way, the leftovers can be eaten for breakfast and if we are doing some activity on that day, lunch may be eaten out or we carry a picnic basket.
- Paying for the deposit only also helps me with cash flow. No need to pay a huge amount of cash all at once.
- My boys and I plan all the meals to the dot. If we deviate, so be it but as long as we know it’s on plan on what we are going to eat when and where. That way, we make sure we buy what we need in advance, think clearly of the meals to make sure it is actually feasible on holiday and not too much work and also to set aside a budget for each meal. especially if we are eating out. To make sure we don’t tap into other savings that are not meant for that holiday trip.
- We plan for activities in advance as well and if any bookings need to be made, we do that too, like months ahead. That way, by the time we go, we know it is there on the schedule and there are funds already set aside for it. We often go over budget but not by much because when we go over budget, we know we are over and manage to pull some breaks.
- On this trip, the reason we chose Marloth Park was because we also wanted to do a day visit to Kruger National Park and indeed we carried a picnic basket. Because it was hot, we just bought water and cool drinks where we stopped otherwise we had all the food we needed for the day. This cuts down on expenses for the trip.
I think that’s about it when it comes to planning and actually affording a holiday, without getting yourself into debt or having a miserable January. That is one thing I don’t tolerate. Being broke in January and yet in December I was spending money like there is no tomorrow. January should be like any other month. Indeed there are more expenses in January especially if you have kids in school. But that is not a surprise that your kids needed uniform. You knew about it from the day they were born. Plan for it and know the expenses you will need to cover in January so that you are not found wanting. Exercise some discipline and self control when spending money or spoiling your loved ones and know what you can afford. Live within your means. Enough of my lecture
I was also gifted these hygienic wipes late last year and they could not have come at a better time. With road trips comes with snacking in the car and wiping little hands along the way. These wipes came in so handy. They are so gentle and the packaging allows for easier handling, rolling under the care seat, or tucking away in a picnic basket with the top up so that when one needs wipes, no need to upset the whole basket. Just flipping the lid open and tearing off what you needs of the wipes will do the trick.
Oh and Kruger National Park was great as well. We had quite a wonderful time. Seeing the animals in their almost natural habitat and not a zoo. Zoos actually depress me quite a lot. As much as I take my kids there so they can see animals, the prison sentence that those animals are serving though, all caged up and all. But sometimes, that’s all we have sometimes to show our kids these animals. Which still comes out all wrong because we have caged these animals for us. Owned them and made sure they were available to show to our kids. For our amusement and pleasure. Ee, let me not go there. That would be a post for another day. As for our Kruger National Park visit, the only member of the big 5 we did not see, collectively was the Leopard. Considering we did a day trip to Kruger National Park, there was very little chance we would actually see it. Seeing a Lion was actually a treat enough.
Marloth Park is full of animals as well, only the herbivores though. So we had a very good dose of those. It was really cool to just be sitting by the balcony and animals coming by our unit to a water hole or monkeys coming for the berries close to our unit. We even had a Giraffe come very close to our unit, impala, kudu and all sorts of beautiful birds. The air was very hot but still felt so refreshing being there. Our unit had an air conditioner in the lounge and fans in each and every room so it was very comfortable inside. There was a splash pool outside as well to help with cooling off in the punishing temperatures of Mpumalanga. All I can say is, we enjoyed our holiday. If you think of holidaying at Marloth Park Game Reserve you should consider 751 Jackal. The Owners name is Lydia and she is just an amazing lady. She will make sure you will have a very relaxing holiday. My whole family actually wants to go back to that very unit.