Africa South Africa Travel Guides

The Journey

Moving to South Africa

After months of planning and years of dreaming, we were finally headed back to Cape Town, South Africa. This time, we were traveling to Cape Town as a married couple. Quite the journey!

We started our arduous trek on Tuesday, October 11th around 1:30pm and arrived in Cape Town on Friday, October 14th around 12:00pm. To say we were tired is a gross understatement.  This was a terrible flight pattern, but it was a deal!

First Leg of travel:

We lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which does have an airport, but it continues to be absurdly expensive to fly out of. Chicago is only a 3-hour drive so we opted for that. Our 4 checked bags, 2 carry-ons, and 2 personal items stuffed in a rental car and we were off! (This gave us flashbacks to our terrible drive to Chicago on our Spain trip!)

We arrived in Chicago without an issue. It was comical watching us wrestle the amount of luggage we had. Midwestern niceties went out the door and no one ever offered to lend a hand… After grabbing a snack in the airport and waiting around for awhile- the plane finally boarded.

Second Leg of travel:

We flew with Qatar Airways and it was our first time. Our first flight was from Chicago, Illinois to Doha, Qatar. 13.5hours. Woof. They crew was kind and overall the flight went alright. There was some turbulence, which Max has an issue with. Luckily this was an overnight flight and he was asleep for most of it. 13.5 hours was the longest flight I had ever been on and I felt every hour of it. Because of Max’s flight anxiety, I sacrifice sleep so he can lay down over the entire row. I watched movie after movie and now I feel relatively caught up on newly released movies!

Third Leg of travel:

We arrive in Doha, Qatar and have a 9-hour layover to look forward to. Max did some research on some lounges in the airport, but alas, they actually cost more than they advertised. The airport had free wifi throughout which was great! There was a good foodcourt and some great restaursnts. We ate 2 meals during our time there and they were good!

Because of the restlessness from the last flight, we searched for elusive napping rooms. We found them and they were great… in theory.

The chairs were laid back, like lounge chairs around a pool. The room was a bit dimmer than the rest of the airport and kept at a chillier temperature as well. This would have been a wonderful resting place, but some customers did not follow the only rule: BE QUIET. There was one female in particular that was singing to her music and despite many prompts, continued to do so. This was not conducive to sleeping so we rested for about an hour and decided we had to walk around.

After what felt like hours of aimless wandering, we sat down for a meal. What felt like hours later, we returned to the sleeping room and the room seemed quieter for a moment. This one female had switched chairs and clearly forgotten her sleep apnea machine. She was snoring so loud that there was no amount of noise canceling headphones or music that could drown her out. At this point in the night, there were about 25 other disgruntled passengers- but we couldn’t wake her up?

The hours dragged on and dragged on.

Finally we were an hour and a half out from our flight, we found our gate and waited impatiently. I ate left over pizza and Max worked on deep breathing to calm himself down before the next flight.

How to deal with long flights

Giant bear in Doha airport

^ This giant teddy bear is a famous landmark in the Doha airport. Amazing.

Fourth Leg of travel:

 This flight was from Doha, Qatar to Johannesburg, South Africa. At a mere 8.5 hours, I knew we could handle this flight! Andddd when we landed- we were technically in South Africa. This was also an overnight flight and out of pure exhaustion, we slept a bit more. I don’t remember much from this portion of our trip, so that’s good…right?

How to deal with long flights

Sleeping through the journey

^It’s okay to not be picture perfect all the time 🙂

Fifth Leg of travel:

 After finally landing in SOUTH AFRICA, our trip was unfortunately not over. We intended on booking a cheap domestic flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, but since there was so much luggage in tow, it no longer became a cheap flight. It was cheaper for us to rent a car, drive 14 hours across the country, and pay for accommodation along the way for a night.

Once we were out of Johannesburg, traffic let up and there was beautiful scenery. Max had done a great job of planning all of the logistics and had booked a beautiful lodge just outside the Karoo National Park in central South Africa. We had 9 hours to drive the first day and it was painful. I’m so lucky that I have an adventurous life partner who gives me energy and forward thinking. We arrived safely and the accommodations were AMAZING. We will be back!

The next morning, we had 5 hours to drive in a 5.5 hour time frame to return the rental car on time. It was difficult, but again Max took control and pulled through the rental car stall in Cape Town at 11:55am with a return time of 12:00pm. This drive was gorgeous! As we were driving through the mountains, it got us excited to see Table Mountain and the skyline we had been dreaming of for 3 years.

Our Air B & B allowed us to arrive early before check in time. We set our luggage down and walked back outside to look at the mountain and the ocean.

We did it. We were back in Cape Town, South Africa. Together.

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    January 10, 2017 at 5:43 am

    Your site is really great with all the detailed information. I just would like to know, what kind of visa did you apply for to stay in South Africa? How does the visa system work there? Thanks in advance for some information.



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      The Passport Pair
      January 30, 2017 at 7:38 am

      Hi Pelin,

      Unfortunately the visa situation can be quite complicated in South Africa. We are doing some volunteer work here, so we were able to secure visas through our NGO. Work Permits are nearly impossible to attain, but Student Visas and Volunteer Visas are quite a bit easier. If you have any volunteer experience, or know that your skills could benefit some local organizations, start sending some emails!

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