cell phones, driving on left side of road, weather

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Mar 4th, 2002, 08:22 PM
  #1
David
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cell phones, driving on left side of road, weather

Thanks for the useful replies on footwear. At the risk of asking more possible stupid questions, do people have recommendations on international cell phones to use in S.A.? It seems we've read in a few places that cell phones are highly recommended to have with you when driving through the country. Also - is it difficult to get used to driving on the left side if you're used to the right? Lastly, we're going to be in S.A. from 5/3-5/24, spending a week in the St. Lucia Wetlands area, and then flying to Port Elizabeth and driving the Garden Route to Capetown. Any ideas on what kind of weather we can expect?

Thanks,

David
 
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Mar 5th, 2002, 04:07 AM
  #2
Lisa
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I know that up until recently American cellphones would not work in SA. I am not sure if that has changed. I know that it was possible to rent SA cell phones at the airport and then you get cards with x amount of minutes which you can buy almost anywhere.

It's not too bad to drive on the other side of the phone. Just concentrate. Make sure that as the driver, you are always looking at the center of the road. If you see sidewalk out your window you are in trouble. I think the trickiest is when you are reversing or turning corners. Before you do it, say to yourself, Ok, when I get to that pioint, which side of the road do I want to be on. Visualise it.

This hints might sound inane, but seriously they work. Concentration and no distractions for the first few days are key.

Also, although you did not ask. When renting a car, the insurance rates are very high. Check with your credit card company to see if they will cover you. Dobule check with your car rental company that they will accept that insurance. Not all of them do and you don't want to find that out at the last minute. They will probably put an amount onto your credit card at the time of rental. It is quite high. So you want to check what your limit is because you also don't want to find out that your purchasing powers are restricted by this large amount which will come up on your card. Notify your cc company in advance that this will happen as they will query it. Also, if you can drive stick shift, it will be MUCH cheaper to rent a manual than an automatic.

Sorry I can't help with the weather. iwould rather you got that info from someone who really knows.
 
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Mar 5th, 2002, 04:42 AM
  #3
gail
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As far as driving on the OTHER side of the road, lots of good suggestions to my post about a month ago (do a search) on Europe board - heading was driving on the "WRONG" side of the road for which I was severely chastised, but the suggestions were good nonetheless.
 
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Mar 5th, 2002, 05:32 AM
  #4
traci
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Hi David
Cellphones are definitely recommended in SA and the networks are digital - so make sure your phone can work on this format. Otherwise - as Lisa suggested - you can rent. This can be done on arrival in Johannesburg International Airport, the desks are immediately in front of you if you are processed through terminal 2, if arriving into terminal 1, turn left and the outlets are on your right just after the foreign exchange counters. To give you a view on driving from the "other" side - I learnt to drive on the left hand side and found it fairly easy to adjust to driving on the right in Florida. It is easier on multi-lane highways - which you will be on for most of your trip in SA. The biggest adjustment I found was looking over the wrong shoulder to check for traffic when changing lanes, and to the wrong side when looking in the rear view mirror. When hiring your car also specify that you want an automatic if that is what you are used to. Most cars in SA have manual gearboxes and the hire company will default to that option unless you specify otherwise. Also - be warned that SA drivers generally drive fast, often exceeding the speed limit, and give minibus taxis a wide berth. Regarding the weather: May is into early winter. For Lake St Lucia it does not matter what time of year you are there as it is always pleasant, with mild days and evenings. However, on the Garden Route run you will be entering a winter rainfall area so be prepared for overcast conditions and lots of rain. We usually have our first truly cold snap in May so you may have some really cold days. Remember the umbrella and pack a warm jersey.
 
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Mar 6th, 2002, 04:35 AM
  #5
sue
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David, you need a world wide phone. If you are from USA most of those phones do not work. My brother recently took his UK cell phone with him to SA and wanted to purchase a sim card but they were a different size. I don't think it is advisable to take yours even if it does work as the cell phone theft rate is one of the highest in the world and secondly your calls will be billed through the states. Rental is inexpensive. If you email the following who are the largest dealers in cell phone rental they will be able to help you. FYI our cell phone was stolen from the locked trunk of our rental car and even though we had insurance we were still liable for an excess of around $70.00!!!
"Customer Care" <[email protected]>
Regarding the driving just remember that you as the driver have to be in the middle of the road. The problem is when you come to a 4 way stop and there are no other cars to guide you. Be sure to take out full insurance for the car with no deductable. Have a great time!
 
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Mar 12th, 2002, 01:05 AM
  #6
SA
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Along the garden route you can expect some rain in May. Although you can have a week with beautiful weather as well. Its a bit unpredictable at that time of year, but saying that, it never really gets too cold - around 15 celcius - not sure of the faranheit.

If you can drive a car it shouldn't make a difference what side of the road you drive on - hopefully you know the left from your right - just follow the car in front of you.

As for Lisa and Sue's comments, they are slightly inaccurate. While Cell phone theft rate is relatively high in SA, so are other rates of theft. In fact, there is probably more chance of your car getting stolen than your phone.

With regards to insurance, most (if not all) car rental companies insist that you take out their insurance - the standard one includes a fairly high excess. Most (if not all) have abolished the '0' excess insurance, because the costs are too high, but they do offer a reduced excess rate for an extra premium.

Automatic cars should not be more expensive to rent than manual cars, and they won't charge your card for any amount at the start of the rental. What they do, is put an authorisation on the card, usually for the insurance excess and fuel guarantee - which together will only be about $700 for a mid range rental.

About the cell networks. SA use the GSM digital network which is the same used my almost all networks around the world. I have travelled extensively with both an SA and a UK cell phone and had no problems. The SA sim card DOES fit into UK phones. (I did it last week without any hassles). The problem with the US is that many of the providers still use analogue, and the ones that use digital, use a different frequency to most of the world. So in essence, if you want roaming, you have to have a tri-band digital phone, like the Nokia 8810. I think Erriccson and Motorola also make one. Your best option is a rental. They are about 1-2 dollars a day and come with insurance for the most part - and calls are about 30cents a minute. They will probably also put a hold on your credit card as a payment guarantee, but not charge your card until you return the phone.

hope this helps
 
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Mar 12th, 2002, 03:44 AM
  #7
Lisa
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Sorry SA([email protected]) but I stand behind my original information unless things have changed dramatically in the last 18 months since the last of my many trips to SA. I'm not trying to turn this into a debate but I do want travelers to be aware of their options and possible unpleasant surprises.

Rental rates ARE significantly more expensive for automatics than stick shifts.

More than one rental company has put an authorization in excess of $5000 (and that is not a misprint) on my credit card at the time of rental, which can put a severe cramp on credit card spending as that is viewed as a charge. I have had the credit card company call my husband who was still home to question that. If the card company does decide the charge is questionable they may refuse to authorise it, in which case, you won't be able to rent the car in question.

I'd also be interested to know whether all car hire companies are now refusing the insurance insurance coverage that some of the gold and platinum credit cards offer.

 
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Mar 20th, 2002, 03:14 AM
  #8
SA
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Hi Lisa, I agree with you in not turning this into a debate. We are both trying to give someone a better holiday experience.

I was born and still live in South Africa. On many occasions I have rented a car. I don't know what company you have used in the past but all the reputable ones have more or less the same rates with manual and automatic. As far as the hold on the credit card, it largely determines what group car you want. If you rent the lower end of the range (which I did last year), then the excess is not that high. I rented a toyota conquest which had an excess of R4500 which by todays exchange rate is about $400.

Obviously if you rent a BMW or Land Rover, then your excess - and therfore the hold on your credit card - will be a lot higher.

Either way, I would recommend the big rental companies such as Hertz, Europcar (who I used), Imperial and Avis. Most, if not all, have online booking and quotation facilities and tell you all the costs, etc involved.

What I find, is that if you do all your homework before you travel, you shouldn't run into any nasty surprises.
 
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