How to travel with small kids and not lose your mind
Is this really possible though? Travelling with small kids without losing your mind? I think it is…. to a degree. One parent/adult and one child is an easily achievable feat. I have travelled with Miss T a number of times and she was a delightfully little traveller. She still is actually.
So this year I decided to take my boy along with as well. If you know me you will know that I love planning and making lists and going over scenarios and making more plans. I can plan and plan months or even years in advance. This trip was initially supposed to be a family trip shared with friends. It was going to be lovely. We were going to start super early in Cape Town, drive down to Springbok (maybe do a bit of Port Nolloth), cross into Namibia. Do a day in one of the border towns. Travel through Namibia all the way to Etosha then possibly a few days in Kasane before crossing into Victoria falls and the driving down to see family in Gweru, then back into Botswana, Francistown, Palapye and Gaborone before finally driving back to Cape Town via our usual Kimberley route.
It was going to be ‘lit’ as they say. Then a few months into the year, hubby dearest announces he can’t make it because of work. I was devastated. Of course I had already told the world about my beautiful road trip. I had been planning this for close to 2 years if not longer. This was the year I was finally going to do that trip so I was super excited. Well, a third of the trip was going to be spent seeing family in Botswana and Zimbabwe so I figured I could still see family so off we went to Botswana.
So now I started replanning as now I was going alone with the kids to Botswana. I had a few options:
- 1: Direct flight from Cape Town to Gaborone: Imagine my shock when I couldn’t book a direct flight on Air Botswana’s website. And more shock when I found out that they had ‘temporarily’ discontinued that route. (I mean, the least you can do is take the booking off your website Airbotswana!!!!)
- 2: Fly to Joburg and drive to Botswana: My youngest does not do sitting still so driving to Botswana alone would have been a nightmare for all of us. Plus the safety of travelling alone on that route with 2 small kids.
- 3: Fly to Joburg and take a bus to Botswana: None starter for same reasons as number 2. Plus the confined spaces and the bus takes forever……
- 4: Fly to Joburg and then connect to Gaborone: This is the route I ended up taking
We left super early and the baby slept on the flight to Joburg so I was saved a screaming baby. Spent the day in Joburg visiting family, travelling to Botswana was not too bad. Fussy baby but the 30 minute flight was short enough.
Of course the passport situation of the family added an extra 10 minutes to our time at passport control into Botswana. The kids were so tired that I just let them run around. The staff are so friendly and I think the understand how tiring travelling with kids can be, they were very accomodating. And we were the last to be assisted (Busy filling in forms while chasing toddlers will humble you). I just let them run around while I was assisted by immigration. And I was super happy to be finally at home.
Coming back was something else. Our flight times were in the middle of the morning from Botswana, and again, the short flight was a life saver. He slept when we landed which helped with passport control. Our luggage was massive so that was a bit of a nightmare on my own but Miss T is a proper super trooper and we managed nicely. Flight to Cape Town was something else. He had just woken up from his nap so he was full of all sorts of energy on that flight.
Question: Do the hostesses point out toilets to us when we get into the plane or there is an assumption that we all know where it is?
Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention to the welcome, here are the exits speech?
Well, baby doesn’t care where what is so as soon as the plane took off he assumed position and did a number. We were right at the front and I had to go all the way to the back for a toilet. The toilet was cleaner than I expected I must admit, but damn these flights that make you buy and pay for your food inflight. As soon as we got out of the toilet they were serving food and I struggled to get back to my seat. Like they were extremely unfriendly as they were busy serving. I guess it’s money before people. I stood there for 5 minutes thinking they would make a plan and I was annoyed when they insisted I sit at the back until they were done. Remember Miss T? She was all alone at the front and I wanted to get back to her.
What did I do? After 5 minutes of being ignored, I simply walked to them and insisted that I needed to pass. Baby helped by being agitated and they had to stop taking money and let me pass. Miss T was still busy watching or playing a video and hadn’t noticed that we were gone for long. Baby however had seen how big the plane was and wanted to go back to the back of the plane. And this is all within the first 30 – 45 minutes of our flight.
Honestly I was exhausted. I tried to hold him and was constantly having to pull him back. He kicked and screamed and I felt so bad for the other passengers…… until I ran all out of feeling back and stopped caring.
I really was flustered and losing my mind at this point. Didn’t help that there was a pilot in the seat in front trying to nap. I felt sorry and was trying to get baby to stop screaming until I just stopped and after that I was okay.
My conclusion and moral of the story: To travel with kids and not lose your mind, you just have to
- People will talk and point and stare at you and your cranky baby. But no one will help you. It’s okay. Focus on your babies.
- Most people have babies, they understand. You do not need to explain or be apologetic over something that is not your fault.
- You and your babies also paid to be on the plane, do not be intimidated by other passengers.
Children are different and react differently to different situations. Your kids are no different.