Departure from Cape Town International Airport

Departure from Cape Town International Airport

Traveling with a child can be stressful. There are people who don’t even try it. People always ask me: How on earth do you handle it all as a single parent?? My approach is to just try everything and if things don’t turn out to be pleasant, just turn around and go home and write the day off. Well, this of course is not possible when you’re booked on a flight from Cape Town to Dubai followed by the Dubai Amsterdam stretch. You’re stuck, so you better prepare and pack well to make it as comfortable as possible. Here are my golden nuggets:

1. Ask for a bassinet when booking your flights. My travel agent told me it wasn’t possible to pre-book. Another travel agent then advised me to phone Emirates directly and ask for a bulkhead seat and bassinet. I phoned and it was no problem. They told me the maximum weight was 11 kg so Rosie was still good. Don’t let your travel agent tell you it can’t be booked. (NB. I normally don’t use an agent to book my flight but since I have Rosie I need to because of visa / adoption issues etc..)

2. Don’t pack too much in your hand luggage because upon arrival you will need to carry your baby AND your hand luggage. Your stroller you will only see on the luggage carrousel after customs. Make sure you have a comfortable baby carrier. I packed way too much so yes I felt like a pack mule. Arriving in Amsterdam in 32 ° C and carrying Rosie + bags, I wasn’t a very happy camper. However, I’m blessed with a child who doesn’t seem to stop singing a little song so I kept smiling..(and everybody around us who was waiting for 1.5 hrs for luggage..)

3. Make friends, a LOT, everywhere, all the time from check-in to boarding, to flying to arrival, with passengers, ground staff, airline crew, other parents, when going to the toilet. Really, this should be your main focus. You will receive loads of help and believe me, you will need it. (for example: how to eat on an airplane with a baby on your lap??). It does help to have a cute baby who charms everyone around her…I had a wonderful couple from New-Zealand next to me on the Dubai – Amsterdam stretch. They adored Rosie which gave me a lot of freedom to go to bathroom and stretch my legs.

4. INSIST on getting the bassinet! Cabin crew are somehow not keen on giving you the bassinet, at least not at Emirates (Yes I WILL fly KLM again next time…) They decided, without chatting to me first, that Rosie would not fit. I insisted that I just wanted to try and had to make a scene before they gave it to me. Rosie slept like a rose for a couple of hours, I had dinner, went to the toilet and even watched an entire movie. It made ALL the difference, believe me!

5. Don’t be fussy about your babies food. It is fine to just stick to formula for the 24 hours that you’re traveling. A bottle is just easy, not messy and has all nutrition needed. I did have all kinds of wonderful homemade solid food with me and it all ended up in the bin because it was simply impossible to feed Rosie in an environment with so much things happening around her. ANYTHING was more interesting than her butternut mash. So bottle food is the way to go. It is nutritious, it helps clearing the ears and your baby stays hydrated as well.

What travel experiences do you have when traveling with your kids? I would love to hear from you.