This may sound dreadfully practical, but to ensure a hazard-free weekend it is well worth checking out a few minor details before setting out...
Match the getaway to your needs
Be very clear about the type of accommodation you are booking into. Getaways perfect for one segment of the population, e.g. children and groups, are not necessarily suited to others, e.g. romantic couples out for a blissfully private weekend.
Read the small print
Is the cottage 'equipped', a murky term meaning different things to different people? Best gauge your host's personal understanding of the word. What about those seemingly arbitrary items, like dishwashing liquid, braai grids and the all-essential Blitz? If in doubt, take your own. Are linen and towels provided? Even if this is the case, it's not a bad idea to pack your own duvet in winter. Most establishments expect you to bring your own swimming towels. And of course, detailed road directions are especially handy come late Friday night in the middle of God-knows-where.
Arrival and departure times
These can have a nasty sting in the tail - such as finding yourself hounded out of town early Sunday morning. The majority of getaways have arrival times between 2pm and 4pm, and a departure time between 10am and 11am.
Check the bill
Before leaving home confirm the price and preferred method of payment as you don't want to be left high and dry. Few getaways offer credit card facilities - cash is king. Most getaways request a 50% deposit to secure a booking, with the balance on arrival or departure. In a few rare cases the establishment may ask for full payment to confirm a booking, though this tends to be the exception.