Getting From A to B
Getting ready for any trip or vacation, I am always filled with so many emotions. I am excited, thankful, anxious, nervous, and always a bit panicky. In my everyday life, I am admittedly not the most organized person; however, when it comes to things like travel, and my business, I can’t be organized enough. I make packing checklists and spreadsheets weeks in advance. I have all laundry done, and start packing at least a week before departure, and I suffer from major insomnia—worrying that I have forgotten something, or thinking about all of the things I still have to do before we leave. Although this sounds unpleasant, and frankly it is, the eventual act of traveling always makes it so incredibly worth it!
(Both kids' stuff in one large bag with room to spare...filled it with snacks!)
This time around, however, we only found out about the opportunity to travel to South Africa about two weeks before the departure date! That probably sounds odd and confusing to anyone who doesn't know me, so let me explain. My husband rides BMX bikes professionally. His job is his dream job, and it takes him all over the world for competitions, filming trips, and demonstrations for the U.S. Military. It is because of BMX that my family has so many opportunities to travel, and we are beyond grateful. The kids and I don't get to go on all of the trips my husband takes, but we try to tag along whenever it is possible. So, while my husband was in Australia a few weeks ago, he was having breakfast with another rider, and he was invited to go to South Africa for two contests in two weeks time. This is not uncommon, for trips to come up very last minute in BMX. My husband knew that going to Africa without me was not an option, so he asked if it would be a family friendly trip, and we got the go-ahead! I nearly cried when I got the news!
With this two week timeline, I was already behind on my normal neurotic travel preparations. Plus, I had just finished a brand rep search for Young Apparel Co., and I needed to make sure that all of my reps were taken care of before we left. I wound up printing, packaging, and sending out over a hundred orders in the midst of travel prep! (Thank you to all my beautiful and adorable brand reps for keeping me so busy and for all your love!) Aside from my business, here is a short list of things that needed to be done before we left.
- Get a new passport for my daughter (hers expired last month)
- Notify my daughter’s school and get a homework contract
- Contact all of our doctors to verify vaccinations and get precautionary medications such as pink eye drops, anti-diarrheal meds, and general antibiotics
- Talk to travel clinics about travel vaccinations
- Buy amazingly cute safari outfits for the kids
- Buy 50 different types of mosquito repellent
- Pre-pack snacks and kid approved food reserves
- Decide which stroller to bring (We always bring a stroller even if we don't plan on using it every day. I like having the option, and it can always be used to carry our crap too. Bonus!)
- Find a last minute house sitter
- Pack for my myself and both children
(We went with the Single BOB this time to save on space, but it totally fits 2 kids!)
That’s the short list. Of course we still had to purchase our flights, rental cars, accommodations, etc. Luckily for us, when our trips are BMX related, a lot of those logistics are taken care of for us. Honestly, we owe so much credit to my husband’s job and our BMX family!
(The luggage train--my husband is very proud of perfecting this method haha!)
Now, a lot of you may think that we are absolutely nuts for traveling so far with two young children. The actual flight time alone was 24 hours. Including car rides and layovers, it was almost 40 hours. Yes, that is a lot even without children! However, I have to say in all honesty, that the kids did great! They typically don't care for airline food, so we make sure to bring a big variety of snacks, and try to get them bigger meals on layovers. On longer flights, the in-flight entertainment is great and they pretty much zombie out on movies and games for hours at a time until they fall asleep. We do bring a variety of small toys and lightweight books as well, and no matter if it is a road trip or an overseas trip, we always bring the kids’ Aiden & Anais Dream Blankets! They are seriously the best! (If you want to know specifically why we like these blankets over others, I’ll be happy to answer that later in the comments). Overall, we all just try to get through the long flights so we can move on to the jet lag portion of the trip haha.
Jet lag. Now, when my husband and I traveled prior to having children, we had a system for overcoming jet lag as quickly as possible. We tried to push through the tiredness, go to bed as close to a normal bedtime as possible, and set alarms to wake up at a decent hour. Yes, we were tired for a couple of days, but we never wanted to waste a second of our trip on jet lag—a stubborn but effective plan. With children, however, we quickly learned that this system does not work; the entire family suffers if we try to force acclimation. Still, it took us a couple of times of trying our old tricks to finally accept the fact that this was most definitely not a good idea anymore. Now, we try to come a day or two early if we can afford it, knowing that the first couple of days are generally going to be a wash. Everyone is much happier this way and the trip starts out on a much better note.
SIDE NOTE: Upon arriving in Cape Town, we immediately ran into a big problem. We got to the customs widow, handed over all of our passports, and we were denied entrance into the country! Apparently it is mandatory to have your child’s birth certificate with you (or a copy) when traveling to South Africa. We had no idea this was a rule, and we did not have these documents with us. We have taken our children to many other countries around the world, and this has never been an issue. After all, you have to provide your child’s birth certificate to get their passport. Sadly, this rule was put into effect in 2015 due to the number of people trying to smuggle children out of the country for adoption. So, after the initial shock and heartbreak, thinking we were going to have turn right back around and go home, the customs agents were very nice and worked out a plan with us. Evidently this happens all the time. In fact, we were not the only ones sitting to the side, stuck, and trying to figure out a solution. We had to have someone go to our house, get the documents out of the safe, make copies, and email them to the South African Customs Agency. Problem number one: It was 1:30am at home. Problem number two: We needed to find someone with a key, and someone who would actually answer the phone in the middle of the night, AND be willing to get out of bed and drive to our house. You know what? Thank our lucky stars, we found someone, all was taken care of in about an hour and a half, and we were out the door on South African soil. Lesson learned! Whew!
We have been here in Cape Town for four days now, and I just keep pinching myself, wondering how we got so lucky. Frankly, we have had a couple of tough nights getting the kids to go to sleep, and regardless if you're at home or away, that is always frustrating. Our days, however, have been filled with endless adventure and amazing experiences—trying new food, cable cars to the tops of mountains, cultural differences, wildlife, history lessons, breathtaking views, and family bonding. It is all way worth the anxiety of travel prep, the long flights, and the frustrations of jet lagged children. More next time on our South African adventures!
Until next time…