I plan, you plan but His plans are the best plans!

Algamdulillah, in February we went back home (Cape Town, South Africa) for two weeks.  The two weeks were jam packed with loads of activities with family and friends. Lots of get togethers, braai’s, beach days, a baby shower,  a birthday party for my sister & granny and even a sleepover! The weather was absolutely perfect and we all left with sunburnt skin and enough fuel to keep us going for another few months before we visit again, Insha Allah – what pure bliss! The kids wanted Debonairs, KFC, Nando’s, Spur, Mc D’s lol and they got it, Algamdulillah – when we left we all just wanted normal huiskos hahaha and no more take outs! We got to spend some quality time with our family and friends. They made our holiday so much more memorable, Algamdulillah.

Looking back, before booking our flights to South Africa we had to overcome some hurdles regarding our residency cards and the ability to travel. Hubby received his resident card in October last year already and I received mine only in January. We could only submit the children’s application forms for their cards after we both received ours. I then fetched the forms at the Prefecture and had to complete it and include all the supporting documentation – which was a complete nightmare as the form was obviously in French! We asked for help from people at hubby’s work and Mrs B but the whole process was still frustrating. We managed to finish all the application forms which had to be posted individually to the Prefecture! YES – you read correctly (rolling eyes) it had to be posted! Everything gets posted here seriously – stuff like your salary slips, medical aid application forms, gas registration forms – list goes on and on!

Two weeks later I received a letter from the Prefecture requesting more supporting documents to be added to the applications and I needed to send it via post  – at this point – time was running out in our minds as we still needed to book our flights but we could not book our flights if the kids did not receive their cards to travel!! I was mentally and physically sick at the thought of us not getting their cards on time. I even told hubby that if we do not get the cards – then it was not meant for us to go home. We needed to prepare ourselves mentally for whatever is about to happen or not!

I sent the extra supporting docs and a week later I manage to email them just to double check that they actually received the documents etc.  At this point we were waiting for them to send us an orange letter to confirm that everything is in order and that I now need to make an appointment to collect the cards. The person that responded to my email said I should come in to collect the cards and not wait for the orange letter in the post!? And here we waiting and stressing about the orange letter to come in the post before making an appointment to go to Prefecture but this person is telling me to just make an appointment and pitch up with all the kids. I felt sick in my stomach at the thought of them turning us away – when our names were called I recited every dua I knew lol and hoped that we would leave with the cards!!!!

ALGAMDULILAH – the person on the other side of the email was right! Shew! I do not know why they tell people to wait for the orange letter before making an appointment and here I made the appointment and did not even receive the letters. Allah answered my duas – they received their residency cards on Monday, 4th February which meant we could finally travel YAY!  Our flights had to still be booked, car parking in Paris had to be arranged, gifts for my nieces and nephews had to still be bought, payments for toll charges needed to be sorted and we still had to pack.

We left France on Sunday, 10th February and drove to Paris for four hours and then flew to Italy for two hours. In Italy we managed to get some pizza to eat – we then took turns to go to the bathroom as our next flight out was long so everyone went to freshen up etc. It was my turn and just before going into the cubicle, my daughter runs into the bathroom in a state and says they called the Petersen family over the intercom!? Oh my hat – I ditched the toilet and fetched my bags. By this time hubby was running already with the girls and I was trying to catch up. We ran from the one side of the airport to the other side thinking they boarded the plane and they just waiting for us! (Just picture this scenario in your mind – six crazy looking people running, with four big bags, I’m shouting for my teenage son to hurry up as he is walking behind us – too cool to run and look crazy) When we finally got to the gate the lady says calmly  “Oh nooooo so sorry madam! We just needed to check South African passport holders and see if the children’s unabridged birth certificates are all in order” OH MY WORD!!!!!! Our hearts were in our throats and we had such a fright!? I could hardly breathe – lekker unfit! haha always drama, always an adventure wherever we go!

We then flew from Italy to Johannesburg for another ten hours and then we missed our original flight to Cape Town but managed to get on another flight  – it was a loooooong trip but Algamdulillah, it was worth it!

In Paris we made a pit stop at the Eiffel Tower! It was cold, wet and rainy on the day but we HAD to take some photos – we will definitely go back in Summer, Insha Allah! The place is not what we expected but I will talk more about that in another post.

Here are my 10 travel tips when travelling with children: 

  1. Always have snacks ready – kids will start nagging if they get hungry.  Having snacks ready for them to nibble on makes a huge difference between you losing your shit or you remaining all calm and in control haha.
  2. Always have wet wipes in your bag for toilet emergencies as well as sticky hands and faces.  I let my kids use the wet wipes to freshen up especially after a long flight.
  3. For small ones – let them take toys on the plane to keep them busy but more so for long transit wait at the airport. I packed in colouring books, colouring pencils as well as fully charged iPads for games etc.
  4. Check-in before the time and choose your seats close to the bathroom – easy access to the bathroom just in case of toilet emergencies and your bigger kids can go alone while you keep an eye on them.
  5. Plan your flight around bed time  – in this way kids can relax and sleep all the way to your destination! No fuss, no stress just peaceful sleep.
  6. Pack in their overnight bag set of clean underwear, extra sweater and tights, toiletries as well as flip flops – when they take their takkies off to get comfy, they can just put their flip-flops on if they need to go to the bathroom.
  7. Keep medication for nausea, diarrhoea and tummy cramps in your bag – just in case!
  8. Dress them in comfy clothes – no jeans but tracksuits thats nice and comfortable to sleep in esp. when travelling at night.
  9. If you travelling with older kids – get them involved. Let them assist you as well as  assist with the smaller children.
  10. Keep all supporting documents as well as passports, itineraries, hotel confirmations etc in one place.

Our time in Cape Town came and it went by so quick that before we knew it, it was time for us to part ways and say good-bye – till next time, Insha Allah! We left with peanut butter, sweets, niknaks, spices and some toiletries we don’t get here – pity our bags were not big enough for the family to join us! Haha soon, Insha Allah will see each other again! Ameen.

“Faith is trusting Allah even when you don’t understand His plan. And Allah is the best of planners.”

If you interested in our updates that will include the real life drama with all the beautiful, raw, ugly emotions that goes with it all, the ups and downs then – follow our page as well as our Facebook and Instagram pages and share this experience with us!

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