Cape Town Travel Checklist

Are you planning on heading to Cape Town to learn English at a local English school? We have put together a little check list to help make sure you don't forget some of the most important things before you head for the airport!

Cape Town Travel Check List English School Cape Town

Travelling to Cape Town for a couple of weeks or longer to learn English at an English school? Here’s a Cape Town travel checklist and some helpful titbits of information…

If you are planning to come to Cape Town to learn English at one of the language schools here, then the closer you get to your trip, the more you start to think about if you have thought of everything! AT ELC we receive a lot of questions from our students, so we thought we would summarise a few things for you here:

1. Have you applied for the correct visa? Remember that if you intend on applying for a study visa, you will need to make sure you do this well in advance of your impending trip. You cannot apply for a study visa 2 weeks before you plan to fly!

2. If you don’t need a visa, have you checked that your passport is valid and for how long it is valid? Do you need to renew it?

3. If you plan on renting a car in South Africa, then don’t forget to apply for an international drivers licence in your country.

4. Are you up-to-date with your general vaccines? Are you from a country which is considered to be a high risk yellow fever country? Make sure you check whether or not you come from a country that will require you to get certain vaccines before you enter South Africa. Also, don’t forget to pack your vaccine/health card to prove you can enter the country when you arrive at the airport!

5. Do you take medication on a regular basis (e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.)? Check if you can bring enough for your stay in South Africa, or speak to your doctor in your own country about substitutes or generics that you would be able to get a prescription from in Cape Town.

6. Have you arranged for your transport from the airport to your accommodation? Do you need airport transfers? Make sure to book this in advance, if you are not being fetched by someone or if you are not familiar with South Africa. Your language school will be able to do this for you if you require it, but make sure to ask them in advance.

7. If you intend on travelling throughout South Africa while you are here, also make sure you have informed yourself of whether or not you will be entering a malaria area in South Africa. There is no risk of malaria in Cape Town.

8. It is advisable to have photocopies of all your important documents (passport, visas, driver’s licences, flight tickets, medical aid card, emergency contacts, etc.).

9. Make sure you have the numbers of the contacts in Cape Town written down somewhere just in case. The names and numbers you may need to easily access are your driver (from the airport to your accommodation), the accommodation telephone/emergency number, the school’s number and emergency contact number in case you land on the weekend or after hours.

10. Exchange some money into the local currency (South African Rands) before you come, just in case you arrive here and forget to change money before you need to take a cab somewhere, etc. Changing at the airport will be expensive. It doesn’t have to be a lot – R500/ R1000 will be more than enough to get you through the first day or two if you would prefer to change money when you are here.

11. Make sure you do your homework about the time of year you are coming so you don’t end up packing a bag full of summer clothes in our winter time! Cape Town is famous for 4 seasons in one day, and the evenings can get fresh even in summer, depending on the wind. So, make sure you check the weather Also, make sure you pack some clothing and shoes for outdoor activities because Cape Town is a wonderful place for hiking and walking. And in summer, don’t forget your bathing suit!

12. Don’t forget your phone/laptop/camera etc. chargers! And also check if you need to buy an adaptor. In South Africa most of our plugs are three pronged. 

13. Don’t forget to lock your bags before checking them on the plane, especially if there are stopovers/ connecting flights. You don’t need sticky fingers finding their way into your bag before it finally arrives at the airport, preferably on the same flight as you!

NB! Keep that little sticker you receive when checking your bags in – that sticker is the tracking number for your bags and if they do forget to put them on the connecting flight you have booked, then you can always track it down with that sticker! Do not throw it away.

Here are a few basic facts about us:

Currency – South African Rands and Cents (ZAR)

Degrees Celsius (not Fahrenheit) to measure temperature

South Africa uses the metric system (centimetres, metres, millimetres, kilometres, etc.)

It is normal to tip 10% (or more if you wish) of the bill at a restaurant. Large tables may have the tip included in the bill – so always check the receipt.

South African English crash course:


South African English Crash Course

Quick language crash course for typical words in South African English that you will encounter from your first day:
American EnglishSouth African English
Drugstore Pharmacy/ Chemist
Mobile phone Cell phone / Cell
Trunk (of a car) Boot
Horn (of a car) Hooter
Hood (of a car) Bonnet
Traffic lights Robots
Elevator Lift
Sidewalk Pavement
Grocery store Supermarket
Cart (at a supermarket) Trolley
Van Minibus (also minibus taxi)
Freeway Highway
You’re welcome It’s a pleasure / Pleasure
Gas Petrol
Gas stationPetrol station
Pedestrian crossing Zebra crossing
Line (to stand in and wait) Queue
Trash can Dustbin / Bin
Just now Later
Now now Soon


We are sure that you are going to fall in love with the beautiful city of Cape Town! The people, the ocean, the beaches, the nature reserves- our beautiful Mountain and everything else.

If you are ever in doubt about anything you need, or have questions about what to bring with and what you can leave at home, don’t be shy to contact us. We are here to help you!

Cape Town | UCT English Language Centre

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