We have already spent almost two weeks in South Africa! On Instagram I have been showing you around in my stories and feed every day, which I love to do. Sadly though, Instagram is not great for in-depth information and long travel stories, which is why I decided to write a couple of blog posts for you in which I give recommendations on travelling with babies and, just generally, traveling Cape Town and South Africa.
I have articles in my mind like “Breakfast in Cape Town – my top 9 cafés”, “Specialty coffee in Cape Town – my favourites”, “Food markets in and around Cape Town”, “Vineyards off the Garden Route” as well as one or two articles on “Travelling with babies – my recommendations”.
In this post, I am starting off with the latter, as I have received a few messages with questions on Instagram, such as how has the flight been, is Cape Town safe for babies, etc.
We flew to Cape Town overnight, left Frankfurt at 10pm and arrived here at 11am (there’s one hour time difference because of day light saving time in South Africa). We flew with Condor, which I simply cannot recommend to anyone who is as tall as my boyfriend and I (1,95m and 1,80m). There’s no legroom at all, and we had to bring our own food and drinks or would have had to pay extra for all food and drinks (apart from still water).
Antonia, who is now 11 months old, was able to sleep between one and a half to two hours a few times, in her carrier (we have the Ergobaby Omni360) or on our laps; nonetheless, she was as tired as ourselves the entire next day. Personally, I managed to sleep 45 minutes during that night, wich made me feel very overwhelmed and grumpy the next day, honestly regretting the entire trip and being homesick.
However, already after the first night in our cosy Airbnb in Camps Bay, I started to relax and enjoy the stay. There simply is no other way than loving Cape Town! The sunshine, the perfect temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees in January, the view over the ocean on one side and on the other into the mountains. We were so impressed by all the amazing food, the cafés, the beautiful shops. Cape Town does know how to create beautiful places! You will be able to read more about the individual places here very soon!
In the city, we used Uber to drive around, which was very convenient and not so expensive. We brought our Maxicosi from back home and have adapters so that we can use it with our Bugaboo Fox frame. That way, we could easily drive anywhere and simply transfer Antonia from the car onto her stroller, even if she was sleeping – so convenient!
I found it a little tricky to carry her in the Ergobaby carrier, as her legs and arms and her face would be in the sun all the time, even if I tried to hide the skin from the sun with thin scarfs. Also, it’s not much fun walking around in the heat with a baby glued to your own skin!
In general, I am surprised by how easy I find traveling with a baby. Perhaps we have reached a phase with 10 or 11 months, in which a few things are not as much a problem any longer, for example it would have been impossible for Toni to fall asleep in her pram a few months ago – now she does it all the time. That gives my boyfriend and I time slots in which we can peacefully sit in a café or restaurant, while she sleeps next to us.
What has been the best way for us is to book accommodations with two bedrooms. Our daughter is a very poor sleeper, and my boyfriend and I alternate with taking care of her at night. One night, one of us sleeps with Antonia and gives her a bottle around 1 and at 3am, and when she wakes up at 5.30am, person A wakes up person B to take care of her. Person A can then have another nap, and person B had a peaceful night, at least until 5.30am.
We were lucky to have cots in two of three accommodations so far; if there is no baby bed available, then we just build a camp out of mattresses, blankets, pillows and such.
There is not a lot of couple time while being on holidays with a baby, most of the time, we take care of Antonia. We did meet a lot of other parents with babies and children, in fact, we met the same people at different places a few times and eventually ended up having a large picknick blanket for all the babies at a wineyerd, where us parents enjoyed some wine and food. It’s amazing how easy it is to get in touch with other people via your own children, and I find it amazing how friendly people are here!
There are moments, when I am over-challenged and think about whether we over-stimulate Antonia. She is VERY happy here, however, she gets over-tired often and freaks out a little then. It is funny to watch, however, not so funny to bring her back down again and put her to sleep: It can take up to an hour in the evenings, and several attempts during the day, split over a few hours, until she finally sleeps. On the other side, she has never been happier, from the minute she wakes up she would wave and clap and laugh out loud and practice walking. It is SO cute and heartwarming to watch, she’s the star wherever we go and she loves to flirt with any people we see anywhere. Of course, there are other moments, too, when she screams non-stop in the car, for example, or once again refuses to sleep. I get stressed then and find it hard to not blame my boyfriend that it was HIS idea to go traveling and that it was wrong and that I want to go home…
Theses fights are quickly forgotten, what I do want to share here though is, that traveling with a baby is stressful. Period. As a parent you are an entertainer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And whether the babies will join our game (or not) is out of our control, it’s a little like carrying around a time bomb, you simply never know how a situation – be it a lunch, a visit at a museum, a stroll over a market – will end: with everyone happy and a sleeping or peaceful baby, or with a crying one and several attempts to carry the baby, make it sleep, feed it and argue with the partner about what is best to do. It’s exhausting. We therefore don’t plan our trip much, book accommodations the day before, see how we like one place and when we are ready to move to the next. We drive whenever Antonia is so tired that she will fall asleep, which makes up to two hours a day in which we can drive.
I must say that, despite that, I am over-thankful for our paternal leave and the time we have here together as a family of three. I only just realised here how burnt out I was after 10 months of caring about a baby non-stop, the lack of sleep, while also working all the time. I do work here as well, an hour up to three every day, which makes even less couple time, but it is how it is. I am thankful for the huge relief it is to have another parent on my side, to share the work with a baby. We do share all the tasks and simply alternate feeding, changing diapers and putting to sleep. That way, both my boyfriend and I also get to have some me-time, and personally, I am thankful for that!
We do have a great time together as the three of us. I love how much fun my boyfriend and I have to spend time with Antonia, to watch her develop, and how much we laugh together. I think I often wasn’t able to enjoy motherhood during that first year as much as other mums do, but finally, here, on a holiday, I feel very relieved. I also like the fact that my boyfriend finally admitted that taking care of a baby is a lot of work and often annoying. I had this „See, finally you know what I have been going through“ moment a few times here, and I must say it feels good.
I am finishing off at this stage; please do feel free to contact me via mail or comment if you have any questions so far!
Watch out for more blog posts coming this way from South Africa, I shall sit down and write them soon!