Got twins, must travel? Although you may have your hands full, it is possible to make your journey a smooth one — even when it comes to flying the friendly skies. If you're traveling by plane, review these tips before you board your flight. Let's make that ride a little less bumpy.
1. Think the plan through.
The key to a successful trip by plane with young twins: planning. You will need to consider all the legs of your journey. There is the getting-to-the-airport leg, the in-the-airport leg, the flight itself, the getting-from-airport-to-destination-leg, and the destination. Then you’ll repeat all of these for the return, but you’ll be that much the wiser. You’ll need a plan for each leg that includes the right equipment and supplies. (Don’t worry – you can do this!)
2. Consider your equipment.
You are going to need car seats and a stroller – many find that bringing your own with you is the easiest approach here, especially since your children will be more comfortable with what they know.
Car Seats: Borrow or purchase car seats that snap into a base and into a stroller. Strollers: A portable, folding double stroller or set of umbrella strollers is a good option, particularly if your twins are a little older and walking, or less likely to stay put in car seats at the airport. You can gate check single strollers, and in some cases, double strollers. Call your airline for gate-check rules as they vary. Baggage Claim: Check a large suitcase, your car seat bases and perhaps one or both car seats depending on your flight plans. On the plane:* Consider a roomy backpack instead of a diaper bag. It will hold everything, zip securely closed and leave your hands free. If you can at all avoid hand luggage such as a purse, that will also help immensely. If you must carry a purse, make it a cross-body style.
3. Borrow or rent as much as you can at your destination.
Depending on whether you are visiting family or going on a resort vacation, you’ll want to arrange to rent or borrow as much equipment as you can at your destination. For instance, pack-and-plays or portable cribs for sleeping, high chairs, even toys are available through family-friendly hotels as well as local rental companies such as Baby's Away, Rent the Baby Gear and Travel BaBees. Family and friends may also be willing to lend you items, so check with them in advance. What you want is to have as much of your setup as possible ready and waiting at your destination.
4. Be smart about your seating arrangements.
When it’s time to book your airline tickets, consider this: most airlines will allow “lap children” up to age 2, which means your children can fly free. However, they do NOT allow two lap children in one row for safety reasons. If you are flying with your partner, consider booking a row of three seats. This arrangement will allow you to have one seat that you can put a car seat in for safety and sleeping, and will also give your family a bit of privacy, great if you are breastfeeding or have cranky kids. Some advise that it is safest to book four seats so that each child may be buckled into the car seat for the duration of the flight. This is fine, though more expensive and you will not be able to sit with your partner. If this is the arrangement you choose, it works best to be across the aisle from each other so you can communicate easily and pass items back and forth.
5. Think hard about that red-eye.
Here’s the thing about red-eyes: if you and your kids sleep through the flight, that is fantastic. But if one – or both – of your kids have trouble sleeping, then so does everyone else on that flight. It works much better in most cases for parents with babies to fly during daylight hours, when at least some of you are alert and able to deal with whatever comes your way.
6. Pack your flight bag properly.
Items to pack in your carry-on: According to the TSA, "baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight." + For formula-fed babies—pack a large bottle with powder in it, purchase water once inside the gate and mix for your bottles. + For breastfeeding babies—check with the airline as to how to pack pre-pumped breast milk, if using bottles during travel is preferred. + For babies eating solids—bring small containers of baby food, including easy-to-eat finger foods.
Don’t forget: Favorite toys and books; diapers and wipes; pacifiers; extra changes of clothes; hand sanitizer; and sleep covers, such as muslin blankets.
Extra Pro tips: Some parents double-diaper their kids during flights to avoid any game-changing accidents. Pack an extra change of clothes for yourself and your partner if you have spitter-uppers. Bring a small feather pillow and extra blanket to help lap kids sit or sleep more comfortably. Buy bottled drinks or bring travel cups for yourself and your partner. Those wide-open plastic cups are just not going to work on this flight. Trust us.
7. Getting to the airport: think “curb dropoff.”
Many airports offer parking that is a considerable distance from the terminal, therefore, if you can, arrange for curb drop off. If you are driving yourself with a partner, have your partner drop you off with one child and all of your luggage, including car seats and strollers, and wait for him to return with the other child. If you are lucky enough to have a ride, remember to take your car seat bases out of the car when you get to the airport.
8. Prepare for pressure changes.
On ascent and descent, remember that little ears can be uncomfortable with the pressure changes. Sucking on a bottle or pacifier during these times can be all your babies need to ease the discomfort.
9. At your destination: rental car tips.
If you are renting a car at your destination, consider picking up the luggage at baggage claim, sending your partner with car seat bases and luggage to get the car and install the bases, and stay at the baggage claim with your babies for pick up. When your partner arrives, all you need to do is snap in the car seats and get in the car.
10. Be happy.
It may be hard at times, but do your best to be upbeat, loving and un-cranky yourself. Your child’s mood can be affected by your own – your stress can emanate. You can and will get through your travel day(s) and the memories you’ll make on the other end will be worth the journey. Think of the photo ops!
- Shannon Peavey