Leaving on a Jet Plane…
This is a follow-up post to the Introduction to our Big Plan post, which describes why my family of six left South Africa in 2018 and decided to go to Spain to start our worldschooling / travel lifestyle.
Our exit out of South Africa on June 11th 2018 was a very interesting, exciting, exhausting, challenging, but fun time. We made it in the nick of time every time and our nerves were remade! We got to Durban airport on the Monday night with kids beyond excited and went on our very first memorable family flight together. We flew out of Durban, landed in Johannesburg and waited an hour on that Qatar flight in Johannesburg airport, but in the aeroplane, not the airport. We then flew to Doha on a 9 hour very long, very tiring flight.
Qatar Airways are extremely friendly, very professional and wonderful to kids and first time nervous flyers. We were welcomed by tons of smiles right from the check-in to the air hosts. The atmosphere was very relaxed on board the neatly set out airplane. They gave us little activity bags and toys for the kids (yay!) which kept them busy for a long time; a little bag with a nappy, wipes and lotion in it for the baby; and bags with socks, eye mask, toothpaste and toothbrush per person.
We are vegetarians / vegans / whole food plant based and were concerned about how the meals were going to be on such a long flight, but we were pleasantly surprised with the variety and found them delicious!
We all battled to sleep though, except for the baby who slept the entire time (incredibly and to my huge relief!) nice and cosy in my arms. This was one of the things that I was very worried about, as we had been told many times by various people that the air pressure on board the plane would make the baby cry and scream most of the flight. But amazingly, this did not happen.
Being an evening flight made it so much easier, as I breastfed baby whenever his ears started worrying him, and then he naturally went back to sleep because it was his normal bedtime period. My suggestion, for parents with young children, is to book flights that travel during the night for most of the flight, as the kids can then sleep and do not notice the long hours, thereby avoiding the boredom that sets in when the excitement wears off.
We then arrived in the extravagant Doha airport exhausted, nauseous and with the kids bewildered by the totally different things around us (coming from farm life in South Africa).
We boarded another Qatar plane and were bowled over by the professionalism, friendliness and helpfulness of the Qatar staff, once again. We landed in Madrid at 4pm and wow! Madrid airport is massive!! We had to walk on moving floors for ages and then caught a free (no cost) train, similar to a tube, to the other side of the airport to get our bags.
We battled to get a taxi (due to the size of our family and the amount of luggage we had), but eventually caught a kombi-type taxi to our air bnb, after getting forex and a SIM card. We were completely finished in every single way by the time we got to our accommodation in Madrid at 8pm. And then that’s another story…
I would highly highly recommend Qatar Airways, as I cannot think of one single negative thing with regards to our flights with them. They made our move to Spain a totally wonderful memory that will stay with us always. They also often have very good specials running.
Check them out here: