• Fuel costs alone mean your December road trip will cost about 40% more than it did last year.
  • Factor in toll fees and other expenses, and driving to your holiday destination isn't likely to be cheap.
  • Calculating the exact cost of fuel, maintenance, and tolls is tricky, but an estimate is possible.
  • A return road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town in South Africa's most popular new vehicle will cost around R6,400.
  • And a drive between Cape Town and Knysna in a new VW sedan will cost around R1,600.
  • Here's what you can expect to pay to drive to some of South Africa's popular holiday spots in the country's top-selling cars.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

*This article has been updated below.

With international travel off the cards for now, and low-cost airlines currently a South African oxymoron, driving may be the only viable way to get away this December. 

Petrol, though, has never been more expensive - and there are plenty of other costs to consider if you're driving to your destination. 

Calculating just how much you'll spend on a December road trip is tricky, but the Automobile Association's Layton Beard says you can expect to pay significantly more this year than you did last.

"If you use 95 unleaded, for example, you're paying about 40% more now than you were in December 2020, which gives you an indication of how much extra you're going to pay for your fuel," Beard says.

This figure is helpful if you know how much you spent on last year's road trip. But if you're in a new car or taking a new route, you'll have to do a few sums. 

A lot of people use the South African Revenue Service prescribed rate per km, which is R3.82. This rate is acceptable as a rough guide but is intended for drivers claiming back on business trips. For this reason, Beard says planning how much you'll spend is more nuanced than this.

"What you need to look at is the price per litre of whatever grade of fuel you're using, and then establish what the litre per kilometre range of your vehicle is," says Beard. "How much you spend on fuel is going to depend on whatever vehicle you're using - if you're driving a 7 Series BMW, you're going to be using a lot more fuel than if you're driving a Kia Picanto, for example."

The matter is particular to individual makes and models, driving styles, and other factors like open windows, mileage, air conditioners, traffic, tyre pressure, and fuel type. Fuel is also more expensive inland - so filling up strategically at the coast, if that's where you're heading, can save you a few rands.

Calculating how much you're spending on repairs, servicing, tyres, and lubrication during a road trip is also difficult. SARS offers a helpful sliding scale of maintenance costs based on vehicle value, which averages about R0.50 per km.

So assuming you're driving one of South Africa's six most popular vehicles, filling up with 93 unleaded petrol, and can match the vehicle's reported fuel consumption, it's possible to come up with a minimum amount you'll spend on petrol and tolls, and an estimate on maintenance.

If you're driving a new Toyota Hilux, South Africa's most popular new vehicle, a return trip between Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park will cost at least R2,000 in petrol and tolls. The same journey in a new Polo or Polo Vivo, the next most popular cars, will cost around R1,500. The SARS estimated maintenance for this journey will add another R450 to the trip.

Getting to Durban and back from Johannesburg will cost roughly the same.

Longer holiday drives from Joburg to the coast cost significantly more. The drive between Johannesburg, Cape Town, and back will cost roughly R5,000 in a fuel-efficient sedan for tolls, petrol and SARS's maintenance calculation. Using the SARS rate, however, puts the same journey at R10,000.

Here's the minimum you can expect to spend on popular December road trips in the country's most popular new vehicles:

Johannesburg to Kruger National Park (Komatipoort)

Return distance: 900 km

Return toll fees: R424

SARS Maintenance estimate: R450

Return fuel Cost:

Toyota Hilux: R1,558.06

Volkswagen Polo: R1,105.13

Volkswagen Polo Vivo: R1,068.9

Toyota Hiace: R1,956.63

Isuzu D-Max: R1,467.47

SARS Rate: R3,438

Johannesburg to Maputo

Return distance: 1,094 km

Return toll fees: R424

SARS Maintenance estimate: R547

Return fuel Cost:

Toyota Hilux: R1,893.9

Volkswagen Polo: R1,343.35

Volkswagen Polo Vivo: R1,299.31

Toyota Hiace: R2,378.39

Isuzu D-Max: R1,783.79

SARS Rate: R4,179.08

Johannesburg to Durban

Return distance: 1,136 km

Return toll fees: R544

SARS Maintenance estimate: R568

Return fuel Cost:

Toyota Hilux: R1,941.22

Volkswagen Polo: R1,376.9

Volkswagen Polo Vivo: R1,331.76

Toyota Hiace: R2,437.8

Isuzu D-Max: R1,828.35

SARS Rate: R4,339.52

Johannesburg to Cape Town

Return distance: 2,795 km

Return toll fees: R296

SARS Maintenance estimate: R1,398

Return fuel Cost:

Toyota Hilux: R4,776.13

Volkswagen Polo: R3,387.74

Volkswagen Polo Vivo: R3,276.65

Toyota Hiace: R5 997.93

Isuzu D-Max: R4,498.45

SARS Rate: R10,676.9

Johannesburg to Gqeberha

Return distance: 2,092 km

Return toll fees: R232

SARS Maintenance estimate: R1,046 

Return fuel Cost:

Toyota Hilux: R3,574.84

Volkswagen Polo: R2,535.64

Volkswagen Polo Vivo: R2,452.52

Toyota Hiace: R4,489.33

Isuzu D-Max: R3,367

SARS Rate: R7,991.44

Cape Town to Knysna

Return distance: 976 km

Return toll fees: N/A

SARS Maintenance cost: R438

Return fuel Cost:

Toyota Hilux: R1,645.98

Volkswagen Polo: R1,167.5

Volkswagen Polo Vivo: R1,129.22

Toyota Hiace: R2,067.04

Isuzu D-Max: R1,550.28

SARS Rate: R3,728.32

Cape Town to Gqeberha

Return distance: 1,500 km

Return toll fees: R86

SARS Maintenance cost: R750

Return fuel Cost:

Toyota Hilux: R2,529

Volkswagen Polo: R1,794.31

Volkswagen Polo Vivo: R1,735.48

Toyota Hiace: R3,176.81

Isuzu D-Max: R2,382.6

SARS Rate: R5,730

* This article was updated to reflect the correct return toll fees when driving between Johannesburg and Durban.

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