Going to visit family in South Africa was a great idea for so many reasons. We were able to disconnect from social media for a little while to fill our days with swimming, board games, drinking tea, golf, garden cricket, chatting and eating. Oliver had to learn to sleep anywhere, get comfy in his car seat and he certainly built up his immune system by meeting lots of new people and going on long flights. We made it there and back without even a sniffle! #plantpower
We left Charlotte on March 18 with zero expectations for how traveling with a baby was going to be like. We decided to book direct flights to minimize travel time with little Ollie (still 24 hours) and I am so glad we did. It went very well (whew) and he was a champion. He slept through the first flight to Atlanta and then we got on the long one (16 hours) from Atlanta to Johannesburg. We knew there was a bassinet that we could request but it’s first come first served- you can’t book it with your ticket you need to request it at the gate. We honestly didn’t think we were going to get it but WE DID and it was soooooooo helpful. Oliver usually sleeps on his tummy but that was not an option as the bassinet was small. We tried him on his back and he didn’t like that so we turned him on his side and that worked much better. He didn’t sleep as well as he usually does at home (does anyone sleep well on a plane?) but he fed and slept for most of the night. I definitely slept because I remember having a dream, and Daniel said the lady next to him had to nudge him awake once when Ollie was fussing. I didn’t think I would have slept through that as I was on high alert so not to make the other passengers uncomfortable, but luckily there is a lot of white noise that honestly drowns out those small moans and groans.
I was a little nervous about changing him in the tiny toilets but it was actually fine. I took my JJ Cole Changing Clutch (it goes everywhere with me) and laid him on that and he was happy as a lark. People were very friendly and that made for a lovely trip. We were shattered by the time we got to Johannesburg, but knew we only had a short flight (one hour) to get to Durban. He slept the whole way there and landing at King Shaka knowing we were done flying for over three weeks was a relief! I went through about four outfit changes over the 24 hours as I really like to feel clean and breastfeeding and running around the airports makes me sweaty. The reward at the end of all this travel is you get to have a hot shower and sleep horizontally! Worth it every time.
Jet lag hit Oliver a little harder than we expected and I was up in the night with him for the first 5 days but he soon got back into the swing of things and was sleeping through the night. Read about jet lag and teething in his 6 month update here.
We stayed with Daniel’s family just outside Pietermaritzburg and went to a family wedding on the weekend. Congrats again Kerry! It was such a stunning day and you were a gorgeous bride. Mom Deane had made a yummy veggie lasagne and I ate leftovers for days. She had stocked up on hummus, avocado cups and almond milk (which turns out to be pretty pricey in SA). I ate mostly vegan at the wedding but I’m pretty sure some of the feta cheese from the salad couldn’t be scraped off. I know some vegans are 100% or nothing but when I’m at a wedding from 1:30pm till 11pm on a farm in the mountains, I do my best to eat as compassionately as I can.
I loved the pink maternity dress (pictured above) that I wore to my baby shower, but it did not hide my nursing bra at all and I was self conscious about it the whole day. In hind sight, I should have sewn a little piece of lace onto the thin straps to make them thicker but I did not think about that in time. Doh!
We then went to my Dad’s house in Hilton and got to visit with him and my brother as well as my aunt, uncle and cousins.
We took a trip to Woolworths (compare to Trader Joe’s) and bought all sorts of vegan goodies. We also found some great meat substitutes at Spar (compare to Harris Teeter) but I didn’t get to try all of them. Check out their website here with amazing recipes and a great story of how they began.
Two things I really missed while I was there was tofu and tempe. I use them a couple times a week on sandwiches, in pastas, stir fry and wraps. I couldn’t find any while I was there but I may have been looking in the wrong place and missed it.
We went back to the Deane’s for Easter weekend and then headed up to the Drakensburg mountains for a family getaway. We had a fantastic time in a cabin near the Drakensburg Sun playing board games and just chilling. We went to the pool everyday and Oliver slept beautifully on some towels on the floor.
We left the Drakensburg and headed back to Hilton for one last weekend before leaving. We got in some more cousin time on my side and I even got 9 holes of golf in with Kirsty and Sam at Victoria Country Club in Pietermaritzburg. It was glorious to play again even though I probably hit only 5 good shots the whole time. Golf is a cruel sport to the uncommitted, that’s for sure.
All in all it was the most wonderful time with our families. I didn’t get international roaming so my phone was pretty much on “airplane mode” the entire trip and it was great to have a break. I am being so much more mindful about how much time I spend on it now that I am back.
I’m not sure when our next trip will be so we are very thankful for whatssap video calls to keep in touch with our precious families. It’s hard to have family living so far away especially now that we have a little one and want him to know and love our crazy relatives like we do. We love and miss you guys already!
Do you have family living overseas?
What tips or tricks do you have for traveling with a baby?