We travel, a lot. My husband and I love going to new places and rarely go somewhere twice – hence my tag line – never backwards, always forwards. This is true with the exception of going home to Zimbabwe. We go there whenever we can but that’s because it’s home for us and that means flying with young kids. So here are some tips on flying with kids, from my personal experience.
In July we were due to head up to Zimbabwe but due to political unrest and issues at the border posts, we decided to postpone going for a bit. So as my husband had already booked off leave from work we decided on a road trip to Cape Town. It was awesome, but that’s material for another post.
When the girls were tiny, I flew with them often – usually solo. My eldest and I flew to the UK when she was just 14 months old. I also flew regularly between Harare and Johannesburg. It was horrific! Flying with kids is not easy unless you are prepared.
I remember the first flight after my youngest was born. She was 5 weeks old and my eldest was just 2 years old, barely! We flew from Harare to Joburg to settle in South Africa permanently. I was heartbroken to leave my parents, terrified about living in a new country, and extremely hormonal!
As for the ‘how’, I looked like a pack-horse! A tiny baby in a pouch in front, rucksack on my back, a baby bag with nappies and all other necessary items that littlies need hanging off my shoulder, and my 2-year-old was running riot in the departure lounge! As we got onto the plane, I realized my breasts were leaking so I tried to very discreetly breastfeed my baby to relieve the pressure without drawing attention to myself as the other passengers were still boarding! Have you tried doing that on a plane in economy? Let’s just say it’s not easy, certainly not with a 5 week old floppy baby with a soft head. We survived … Just!
For the next year, I think I did another six return flights. There was always a drama of some sort. Have you ever tried changing a poo nappy in an aeroplane toilet cubicle with a toddler trying to ‘help’? Not fun. No wonder my milk dried up from all the stress!
Tip on Flying With Kids To Zimbabwe
Another fact I learnt early on about this particular route, Zimbabwe International Airport is one of those airports that does NOT give you your pushchair upon disembarking from the plane. Nooooo! You have to carry two tired kids and hand luggage through customs & security and wait for your pushchair to come off the carousel with all the bags! NOT FUN!
I remember the last time we landed in Harare, just the kids and I. I finally strabbed the little one in the pushchair, and stacked the suitcases on the trolley and somehow managed to push both of them through the door where the families are all waiting on the other side, and one stranger saw the exhaustion and effort and stress and said “wow, you are very brave”. My reply: “No, I’m stupid. NEVER AGAIN”. I think I did it one more time.
Well it’s been almost exactly two years since I flew with the girls since then. We’ve done many many long road trips with them, but we haven’t flown for a while. We leave for ‘home’ on Saturday. My husband has to work so it will just be the girls and I. We are all super excited.
I plan to be as prepared as possible, which means as little hand luggage as possible so I can keep my hands free to hold on to the kids who will be over-excited! In that luggage, I still have to have a change of clothes for each of them, plus the 3 tablets, and ALL the documentation I am going to need – i.e. passports, birth certificates, letter of authority from my husband to travel internationally with OUR kids (thank you SA Home Affairs), and snacks of course.
Anyway, that’s just another good reason to only have two kids, I only have two hands! I honestly don’t know how parents of more than two kids get anything done!