Travelling In South Africa? Your Questions Answered

South Africa is a true melting pot of culture, colour, history, and natural beauty. If it is not on your travel radar, it certainly should be, whether you are an adrenaline junkie or someone who lets their stomach lead the way on their adventures. 

But, you likely have some questions about the culture and travelling etiquette in the country. We answer all of these questions and more in our top tips for travelling in South Africa.

Is It Safe To Travel In South Africa?

This is one of the most asked questions about a South African holiday, and the answer is yes – but you must always practice awareness of your surroundings.

There are certain crimes to be aware of, including carjacking, armed robbery, and petty theft. However, this should not deter you from visiting our beautiful country and experiencing all we have to offer.

Follow our useful safety tips:

  • Never leave valuables lying around or out of your sight, especially while driving or parking your car.
  • If you are arriving at one of the airports, make sure that you are using a proper suitcase or lockable hard shell suitcase. Keep your valuables on your person and, if possible, ask for your luggage to be wrapped for added security.
  • Do not keep your camera or cell phone in plain sight when walking the streets. If you need to take a photograph, make sure you can easily store it in a bag afterwards.
  • Avoid hitchhiking at all costs. It is better to rent a car or, alternatively make use of ride sharing applications if you will be drinking and want to avoid driving.

Staying alert and aware is important in any tourist-heavy country, so remember this when exploring South Africa.

Should I Take Out Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance in South Africa is important, and you should certainly make sure your belongings are covered. This is also true if you are renting a car – ensuring that you have the right insurance will cover you for every eventuality. 

For adrenaline junkies, having travel insurance is vital. You might decide to go abseiling, river rafting, or even shark cage diving, and have an accident. Without this insurance, you will have a hefty hospital bill and might have to use the money you saved for your adventure for these costs.

Should I Learn The Language?

Yes! But, this might be a little tricky…South Africa has eleven official languages (Sepedi (also known as Sesotho sa Leboa), Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu). 

While many people do speak English, there have been some twists added to common words in the other languages, so learning some phrases before your holiday to South Africa can help you to speak to the locals:

  • Howzit: This is a common greeting used instead of “Hello, how are you?” It is largely informal, but used in almost any setting.
  • Eish: A Khoi-San expression used to express shock or surprise. It is used by almost all races and cultures because it is so expressive.
  • Braai: A braai is a barbecue – but it is also so much more. It is truly a cultural experience and you will often be invited to a braai during a sports game, to celebrate a holiday…or just because it is a sunny Saturday.
  • Now Now: This is used to mean right away or in the very near future, or as soon as possible.
  • Just Now: This can be highly confusing if you are not from South Africa. “Just now” does not mean “right now” – it can mean anything from an hour to an entire day.
  • Robot: A robot is a traffic light – remember to keep this in mind when asking for directions.

Luckily, most establishments have staff who speak English, so you will not need to learn a new language to ask for help.

Do I Need To Research Anything?

Researching day trips in South Africa and self-drive safarisas well as the COVID-19 regulations in South Africa can certainly help you to make a decision on what activities you want to take part in and what provinces you want to visit.

You should consider when and where you would like to visit, especially as some attractions are only available or active during certain seasons, and how long you would like to stay for. Performing proper and realistic research of where you want to go, how long you would like to spend there, and what you would like to do will help you to plan your budget and time wisely.

Should I Tip?

Unlike many parts of Asia and some European countries, tipping is considered normal in South Africa. 

Tipping at restaurants is normal, but you will also be expected to tip other service industry workers, such as car guards (people who watch your cars for safety in parking lots – however, this is not a law, just good practice), petrol attendants, tour guides and tour guide drivers, and fast-food delivery people.

Most restaurants do not include a service charge on the bill. The tip should, at minimum, be 10% of the bill. You will also see an additional 14% VAT added to the bill, which can be confused for the tip.

Have Fun

Travelling in South Africa can be both exciting and daunting if you are unaware of some of the nuances of the country. It is perfectly safe to travel in the major cities, provided you protect your valuables and keep aware of your surroundings – also, ensure you have travel insurance for yourself and belongings.

Learn some of the lingo, look up where to go, and rent a car with Star Car Rental and you will be well on your way to having a fantastic adventure.

How To Create The Perfect Road Trip Playlist

A road trip without music is hard to imagine. Long strips of road – especially the flat roads we have here in some areas of South Africa – can quickly become dull and cause the driver to become tired or bored. Music is the ideal solution to maintain energy and alertness.

When traveling in South Africa, having the right music in the background can make the trip more enjoyable for everyone involved, especially if everyone has had a chance to choose a song or two.

Below we give some top tips on how to create the perfect road trip playlist.

How Will The Music Be Played?

This is a vital consideration, especially if you will be renting a car in South Africa. Does the car have a CD player, a Bluetooth connection, an AUX (auxiliary) cord connection, or are you able to use a USB stick to play your music?

Once you know how the music will be played, you can work on gathering the necessary tools for your playlist. Remember that, if you will be connecting via Bluetooth using a device, the device will need to be charged for the duration of the trip, unless other people in the car can use their devices with the same playlist.

Give Some Ground Rules

Setting rules for who can choose songs is important, and many people agree that the driver should be the one to choose the songs. However, the driver should always take the preferences and requests of passengers into consideration to avoid a disagreeable road trip. 

A good way to set ground rules is to draw up a list of songs, artists, and genres that should be avoided at all costs. This means that everyone can enjoy a fun and relaxing South African road trip. Allowing everyone to choose one to two of their favorite songs is also a great compromise for a diverse playlist.

Match Your Music To Your Surroundings

South Africa is a culturally colourful country, and we have some amazing local singers, songwriters, and bands. So, why not create a playlist to match your surroundings, and fill it with some local flavour?

When driving in Cape Town, for example, add musicians such as Freshly Ground, Goldfish, and Jack Parow to your playlist. KwaZulu-Natal is known for its musical talent, and songs from the Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the wildly popular hit from Johnny Clegg, Impi, are perfect matches for this area’s history and culture.

Consider Safety First

If you are renting a car in South Africa, it is important to consider the safety of the driver above everything else when creating a playlist. The music should be chosen to suit the energy of the day and to help to maintain the alertness of the driver.

A calming, uplifting track for the morning can help to allay the stress of driving through morning traffic, whereas an upbeat and energetic track for evening driving will help to ensure the driver remains awake while driving. Remember, if you are feeling tired, it is best to stop and rest rather than continue driving on, no matter what music is playing.

Be Flexible And Patient

As much as you plan out your perfect South African road trip playlist, there will be someone who does not enjoy the songs you choose. In this case, you will need to be more flexible and patient. 

Allowing passengers to choose songs will make the road trip more enjoyable for everyone involved. This will also eliminate irritation for the driver, as passengers might request songs to be changed constantly, which can be hugely distracting while driving. If you are using a Bluetooth connection, passengers can easily change the songs themselves using the connected device.

Have Fun

A road trip playlist should not be something taken too seriously. Think of songs that everyone enjoys, perhaps one that brings back fun memories for the family or a song that reminds everyone of a special moment in time. 

Or, you could add some current songs that everyone knows and can sing along to. Your rental car will likely have a radio, which can help playlists get repetitive. When planning a trip to South Africa, start with Star Car Rental – we are sure to have everything you need.


Car Rental Payment Tips For Travelers To South Africa

When you are planning a trip to South Africa, it is always a good idea to book a rental car

It allows you complete freedom of movement and a safe way to travel the country. Without a car, you are unable to visit our stunning wine farms or other attractions, like seeing Table Mountain or exploring the foodie spots in the inner city.

But, one of the most common issues with rental cars is understanding the payment processes.

We are here to explain these processes and give you all the help you need before renting a car in South Africa.

Can I Rent A Car Without A Credit Card?

Unfortunately, all car rentals must be paid using a credit card. 

This is due to a high incidence of fraud, and means many car rental companies cannot accept cash, EFT (electronic fund transfer) Payments, or debit cards. 

It also ensures the financial security of the car rental company and that all payments are secure for the person paying. 

The credit card will need to be in the name of the main driver, because they will be held legally responsible for the car throughout the rental period.

Why Was A Refundable Amount Blocked On My Card?

It can be alarming to see a refundable amount blocked on your card, but there is a good reason behind it.

Your quotation will specify both the total rental amount that is payable and the total refundable deposit amount that is payable. 

This is to ensure that you have sufficient funds. There is no debit on your statement, the bank is simply holding the money, and once you return the car, the money will be released by the bank.

When Are My Deposits Cleared Or Refunded?

As soon as the car has been checked and fuelled, the invoice will be finalised and any balance of the deposit will be automatically refunded. This is provided that no charges have been incurred. 

For overseas visitors, the refund will usually reflect on your statement within seven days. If, after seven days, the amount does not reflect, please contact your car rental company for advice or help.

Who Can Pay For The Rental?

The issue of who pays for the rental has strict rules. The driver of the rental car must be the holder of the credit card used to pay for the rental. 

Another person may pay for the car rental if you are unable to do so, but the contract must be in their name, and they must be present to collect the car. 

This person will need to provide their credit card (that is in their name) as well as a valid driver’s license. International visitors will need to provide a valid passport.

If someone else will be paying for your rental car, they can add you as an additional driver at the standard fee.

Is There A Cancellation Fee If I Can No Longer Make The Trip?

In terms of a cancellation fee if you can no longer make your trip, this depends on several aspects. 

For standard vehicles, if the vehicle has been cancelled at least 24 hours before your arrival, there will be no cancellation fee payable. 

If you have hired a luxury vehicle, a cancellation fee will be charged for cancelling less than seven days before your arrival. 

For three or more vehicles, the cancellation fee will apply if you have cancelled less than 18 days until your arrival.

How Can I Extend Car Rental?

If you would like to extend your car rental period, you can contact the Star Car Rental office and let us know your new return date and time. 

We will check our schedule and let you know if this can be done. Do not assume automatically that your car will be available to extend, especially during peak season. 

Please be aware there might be an additional authorisation reserved on your credit card for the additional costs.

How Do I Compare Prices Of Car Rental Companies?

When you are comparing prices of car rental companies there are certain aspects you can look at to find the best value:

  • How old are the vehicles on offer? 
  • What is the limitation on the kilometers offered?
  • Are the airport surcharges included if the car is being collected from an airport?
  • Is there a countrywide backup for long-distance travel?
  • What does the insurance cover, and what will your personal liability be?
  • Does the coverage include windscreen and tyre and rim cover?
  • What excess amount will you be liable for?

Knowing all of these aspects will help you to choose the best possible car rental company.

When Do I Pay for My Rental Car?

When paying for your rental car, some direct booking sites require you to make a payment upfront. 

It is strongly advised not to do so, as you will be paying for a service you have not yet received. Star Car Rental deals with only the most reputable brands and upfront payment is not an option.

Credit card details are only required at least 24 hours before if the car is being delivered.

If the car is being collected at the airport or an authorised depot then credit card payments are only made on taking delivery.  We do not require card details in advance for collections. 

If you are booking a car during peak season, generally 15th December to 1st Jan, some suppliers will insist on being paid upfront to confirm a booking because of the demand. 

This is performed using a secure link, but if you are unhappy with this, we will quote a different supplier who does not have that as a requirement.

Final Words

Knowing how you can pay, when you should pay, and learning more about refundable amounts will enable you to make the best car rental decision. 

You will also be more prepared for any unexpected expenses, like insurance charges and extension costs.

Ready to start planning your next journey? Speak to Star Car Rental about what cars we have available for you.

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

How To Choose The Right Car For Your Trip

A trip around sunny South Africa can take months of meticulous planning, but the three most important ingredients for the best possible trip are simple: good company, a great route and… the right car for your needs. 

But, knowing how to choose the right rental car can be difficult when you realise how many choices are available to you. Below we provide a rental car guide for choosing the right car for your trip.


There are some simple steps you can start with that will make renting a car in South Africa easier and will help you to receive a more accurate quote from the car hire company.

Count Your Passengers

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Before you look for a possible car hire in South Africa, you should start by counting the number of passengers you will need to carry. If you are visiting family or friends and you will be riding together with them, you will need extra seating. Think about both the children and the adults you might be riding with and how comfortable they will need to be.

Look At Your Luggage

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Take out all of the items you are planning to take with you, including the suitcases. This will show you how much luggage you will be taking with you when renting a car in South Africa. Many car rental websites will tell you how many and what size of suitcase a car can carry, but might not account for oversized or irregularly shaped items.

Don’t Forget Fuel Economy

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Fuel economy is an important consideration for any trip around a country. Research what the fuel economy is of the various models of cars, from SUVs to hatchbacks. Some websites for car hire in South Africa will have the fuel economy listed, which can help to find a model that best suits your requirements.

Ensure You Understand Insurance

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

One important tip to remember for how to choose the right rental car is to ask about and understand the insurance. Remember that full cover car rental insurance does not always mean full cover. For example, If you were to have an accident or incident, where no other vehicle, pedestrian or animal was involved, you may not be covered at all.

Think of reversing into your gate pillar, suffering trolley damage in a supermarket parking lot, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as common examples. Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing anything. Tyre and windscreen damages are always excluded unless specifically included in the quotation. Extra cover can be obtained for windscreen and tyres, on request, at a very low daily cost.

Considerations Before Renting A Car

After following the steps above, there are some considerations to take into account when it comes to car rental in South Africa.

Boot Or Trunk Size

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

The size of the boot or trunk of the car will have a direct impact on how much luggage you can take with you. The option to have roof bars on a rental car is not common, so you will need to carefully consider what boot or trunk size you need. A hatchback rental or sedan rental is an ideal option for those doing town driving who need a larger boot, while an SUV rental might be better suited for trips with less luggage.

Transmission Type

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Renting a car in South Africa means that the most commonly rented vehicles have manual transmission, as this is the most commonly used in the country.  Rule of thumb is that vehicle groups A to C are always manual and the larger vehicles from D upwards are mostly automatic transmissions, Check with the rental company if unsure.

Extra Additions

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

If you need any extra additions, such as a car seat for a child or a GPS system, be sure to book these at the same time you are booking your car. This will ensure you have all the necessary extras when the day comes to pick up your rental car. Some more specific extras might not be available, but you can remedy this by packing your own or hiring them while you are in the country.

What Type Of Car Do I Need?

Now that you have considered all of your options, you can think about the type of car you will need to make your adventure comfortable and enjoyable.


Hatchback rental with Cape Town Car Hire

Hatchback rental is a great idea if you are doing mostly town driving. They are generally the more affordable car rental options, are compact, economical, and can seat four people. However, the legroom and luggage capacity is limited.

Family Sedan

Family Sedan rental with Cape Town Car Hire

A family sedan rental can seat four to five passengers and are best suited to small groups. There is sufficient luggage space, both manual and automatic transmission, and are economical, too.

Luxury Sedan

Luxury Sedan rental with Cape Town Car Hire

Luxury sedan rental is ideal for those who want a little something extra for their trip.They have advanced features, lavish interiors with all the comforts you could want, and offer both manual and automatic transmission models. They are best suited to long distance business trips or international holidaymakers.

SUV And 4x4

SUV and 4x4 rental with Cape Town Car Hire

An SUV rental or 4×4 rental are perfect choices for the more adventurous journey. They offer comfort and ruggedness, and the ability to drive through the difficult South African terrain with ease. However, they are heavier on fuel consumption, which is an important factor to consider.

Passenger Vans

Passenger van rental with Cape Town Car Hire

A passenger van rental option is able to seat eight to ten people easily, ideal for large family or friend groups. They offer both comfort and space for passengers and luggage. These vehicles can be more difficult to drive than smaller cars, so remember this for any town driving.

Final Verdict

Choosing the right car for your trip does not have to be a daunting prospect. Start with the simple step-by-step process, look at all elements that are important to you, and remember to think about what the different car models offer.

 Start your South African adventure off in the right gear.  If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to ask us.  Contact Star Car Rental for an accurate quote.