We are heading to the Vaal River this weekend with some friends. Although I have crossed the river a few hundred times between the Free State and Gauteng, I’ve never actually been to the river.

As with most self catering style weekend breaks, it involves a fair amount of planning, preparation and packing.

Top Tips Before You Start Packing

  1. Check the weather report. From what I can tell, it’s meant to rain the whole weekend across the country from Cyclone Dineo which is currently wreaking havoc over Mozambique.
  2. Know what to expect when you get where you are going. Do you need to pack towels, pillows, blankets, tea, coffee, etc. Is there a fridge there? Is their aircon?
  3. Is it Child Friendly? If not, abort the mission! Stay home! If it is, make sure you pack stuff for them i.e. swimming costumes, board games, iPads/tablets, DVDs (Stop judging me, it’s a family weekend, at some point I’d like to relax too!)

My Checklists For A Weekend Away:


  • Arrange for someone to come in and feed the cats and birds.
  • Make sure all the housework is done so that we don’t walk back in to a mess when we get back.
  • Ensure there is something to feed the family on Sunday evening because you know all the unpacking and washing will be left to you as well as having to feed everyone.


  • Make sure it is clean so you can load it with your kids so that they can immediately spill juice on the seats and wipe their noses on the windows.


  • Prepare for ALL eventualities.
  • Ensure you have enough of everything: meat, salads, rolls, crisps, dips, bacon, egg, yoghurt, fruit, cereal, sweets, two minute noodles, etc.


  • Tea & Coffee
  • Milk
  • Fruit juice & Cordial for the kids
  • ALCOHOL: in our case it’s beers, Savannahs, whiskey, soda and wine. I suffer from FORO (Fear Of Running Out) so I bought extra, just in case. We won’t be able to nip back to civilisation if we run out.


  • Swimming costumes (modest for moms), swimming towels, goggles, and sun block!
  • Warm clothes because the nights might get cold if it does rain.
  • Pyjamas – respectable ones, not your comfy old holey t-shirt from 2001. It has to be pjs that you don’t mind other people seeing, including bottoms!
  • Shorts & T-shirts, appropriate for boating, tubing and chilling in. Most important Tip: Be Practical!
  • Underwear – I pack everything for all four of us, but often forget my own underwear.


  • Soap, Shower Gel, Shampoo etc.
  • Razors, etc
  • Medicine: antihistamine, paracetamol, ibuprofen, children’s thermometer, something for upset tummy, something for constipation, and plasters.

Even when you think you have packed everything including the kitchen sink, don’t forget:

  1. Charging Cables for your phones, gadgets, cameras, etc.
  2. Passports, if you are going out the country.
  3. Make sure your animals are secure & safe. (I once got to the border with Botswana to get a call saying my cat was missing. I had visions of him being locked in the garage for which we had the keys with us. Fortunately he was just next door.)
  4. If you are at all worried, as long as you have toilet paper, a phone and some money (both plastic and cash), you should be able to get out of any unforeseen sticky situations, trust me, we’ve been in a few.

Have a good weekend all. Follow me on Instagram for pics from the weekend.

The Pramshed