Travelling with Twins – what to expect?
Travelling with twins for the first time is daunting! When we booked our first flight and trip with our then 6 months old twins our biggest worry was ‘have we thought of everything’? And it was only a 3 hour flight! Yet I spent literally 2 weeks preparing for that trip, trying to think of everything and anything that could go wrong. Of course we did not think of everything the first time round, but were much better prepared for our long haul flight the time after! Based on the multiple flights we had over time with our twins from 6 months onwards and the feedback received from the twin mums in the club, here are a few pointers for a less stressful trip as well as some packing lists
FLYING WITH TWINS
The first thing to know is that with infants (under 2), unless you pay for their own seat (which you do not need to since they travel free under 2) you will not be able to sit next to your travel partner and the 2nd twin. In economy there are not enough oxygen masks to supply two infants in the same row. The best option therefore is to book two aisle seats across from each other. This allows you to get up frequently without annoying everyone else and will allow you to swap babies if necessary. We ended up with teething babies on both flights (somehow air pressure seems to add to teething issues) and had to swap several times, climbing over multiple passengers every time. In order to achieve that seating arrangement I recommend calling the airline multiple weeks in advance to book the seats. Most airlines are usually understanding when you travel with twin infants and will not charge you for this. If you travel long haul, try and book the baby cot in the front row of economy.
From 2 years old you will not need to worry about this since they have their own seat but you may still want to call up to ensure you are all seated together.
TRAVELLING WITH TWINS – BUGGIES AND CAR SEATS
Airlines must allow the check in of car seats for free (the car seat is not regarded as luggage and does not count against your allowance). It is easier to check the car seats in than to take them into the airplane. The narrow aisles make the carrying quite difficult and heavy and to take car seats you will need extra seats. It is easier to have your infant twins in a baby carrier to walk to and through the airplane. To check in the car seats make sure they are packed into car seat bags such as for example the Baby Caboodle Car seat travel bag
We always used the car seat bag as additional space for stuffed animals and blankets, just make sure you use a lock so it doesn’t get taken out. Car seats can usually be rented but they are usually not of very good quality and don’t always meet the required safety standards so we always took our own until our girls turned 4 and were able to use a booster at the destination.
Buggies also have to be accepted by airlines for either check in or taking to the gate. For infants and toddlers up to age 3 I highly recommend taking the buggy to the gate. You never know how tired they will be or how far the walk will be or indeed how delayed you will be so it’s always good to have a buggy to hand. In general, most easily foldable double buggies such as Mountain buggy can be taken to the gate. Some airlines have become a little difficult with double buggies such as iCandy and Buggaboo so you may want to check with the airline first. Usually, as long as it folds flat, the airline will let you take it to the gate. We were never turned away and had the Britax equivalent of the Mountain buggy (Britax B-Agile, now quite hard to get).
TRAVELLING WITH TWINS – BREASTFEEDING AND PUMPING
All airports will allow breastmilk, formula and baby food and snacks through security. It will however be checked through a special machine for ‘explosive substances’. On occasion some security officials have been known to ask mothers to drink some but this has become far less common. I usually took double the amount of food required for the length of the flight time + airport time in a cooler bag such as this one Medela cooler bag . This was to allow for any delays.
If you are breastfeeding and/or pumping, make sure that you pump or breastfeed one last time before getting onto the plane. Sometimes it can be a while before you can actually get round to doing that on the plane and things can become quite painful (I had a very bad personal experience myself due to flight delays once in the plane) or babies quite hungry. To pump in the airport or plane you can use either an electric breastpump such as the Medela Pump in Style (but it’s pricey):
This is the pump I used because my girls were bottle fed expressed milk from 3 months so I needed quite a lot of power. If you are breastfeeding, a manual pump to alleviate issues is enough: Medela manual pump
FEEDING AND SNACKS
Once you are feeding formula or pureed food, make sure you allow plenty of extra food/formula to allow for any delays. Whilst it is possible to find baby food in airports, you never know whether they will have the one you want and if you are delayed before you can buy, you will end up with nothing. So be prepared and take it all with you. It’s a lot to carry but probably worthwhile. You will need plenty of snacks for babies 6 months + and plenty of things to suck for infants. Dummies or similar sucking toys will be required for take off and landing due to the effect on their tiny ears. They cannot clear them and it can get very painful. We opted to give them a bottle of milk at take off and landing followed by the dummy. Make sure you take spare dummies, some inevitably get lost in transit! If your babies have started teething you may wish to administer calpol or nurofen infant before flying. I found that flying always exacerbated teething in my girls (in a similar way to our colds getting worse)
TRAVELLING WITH TWINS -THE TRAVEL/CHANGING BAGS
You will need one large changing bag per baby. Firstly because you may not sit as you expected and may be separated and secondly because you will have so much with you. A very practical large travel changer is the Beaba expandable bag (click). The bags basically need to cater for all eventualities. Here’s a list of things you will need to pack in your bags for your infant twins (this list is per bag):
2/3 dummies and dummy cleaning wipes (they tend to fall in the worst places)
A pack of 60 wipes
Enough nappies to cover the length of the trip + 50% more
Changing mat and nappy cream
2 changes of clothing for baby (more if your flight is 10h+)
Spare top and trouser for parent (yes you may get vomited on or spill lots of milk)
Milk bottles with dry formula or breastmilk in cooler pack if fresh (I stored the formula powder in the bottles and extra powder in pots such as these Elacra baby food storage containers
Teething toys / rings
5-7 small burp cloths (more on long flight)
Breastfeeding cover & pump (this only needs to be in mums bag)
3 spare teats (yes they also have a thing about disappearing)
A small amount of natural washing up liquid to clean bottles (I took this in a small feeding bottle with a lid to avoid leakage and put it into a ziplock bag)
Favourite comforter or stuffed animal
Sleeping bag if long haul / night flight
A few age appropriate entertainment toys
Calpol and/or Nurofen infant for teething and other issues
Snack pot / snacks
Feeding utensils if they eat solids and a plastic bag or ziplock to put the dirty or washed utensils into
A mat or blanket to put babies on at airport while waiting for plane (optional as bulky)
Bibs (3 or 4) or one washable one such as Baby Bjorn (for babies on solids)
Sippy Cup (if appropriate)
TRAVELLING WITH TWINS – WHAT TOYS?
The biggest issue on flights with babies over 8-9 months is entertainment. Even infants will need some form of ‘distraction’ such as little baby book and play keys or similar. Here are some examples:
Once babies start moving a lot you need to find enough distraction to keep them sitting still. If you are on a long haul flight this usually involves a little selection of toys and games to keep their attention. We usually took several little books and some other small toys in a wheelie bag since we could not get it all into the nappy bag (inevitably the toys are not that small) and would swap toys between the kids. These are the toys that worked best for us (warning – you may need a wheelie for these as none of them are particularly small):
once the kids reach 18 months the easiest solution is drawing. However to avoid any crayon mess where it is not wanted I recommend either aquadoodles or other mess free doodles that do not involve any actual marking until they reach an age where you can use paper and crayons
As soon as they walk with confidence the kids will be very excited to have their own little backpack which you can fill with a snack pot, their stuffed animal and a toy. Our favourite backpack was this one (click). Alternatively you can also get the Trunki ride on suitcases which allow you to pull your twins along when they cant walk anymore and give you space for toys!
Once our girls reached the age of 3 my husband decided to get them the cheapest ipad available with good ipad protector covers for our long haul flights. We uploaded lot of little cartoons and educational games and this as well as colouring kept them completely entertained. We also always buy one child magazine of their choice at the airport (the ones that contain a little toy / gift) as well as fruit gummies to suck on take off and landing. These two gifts are usually good bargaining tools to keep them still! Now at age 5 they are fully entertained by the TV/iPad/magazine. There is really not much needed other than a few kids snacks, water bottle and crayons.
TRAVELLING WITH TWINS – ONCE AT DESTINATION
Most of the time we worry that kids will be bored at the destination or that there simply will not be enough equipment. When they are small (under 2) I would recommend hiring some equipment at your destination if your are renting a house without any equipment. Things such as jumperoos, high chairs, cots etc. can easily be hired in most large cities. That being said I actually don’t think that we need as much as we think we do. After travelling to many places all over the world we have found that our girls were perfectly happy with just a couple of small toys, their favourite stuffed animals and some books and crayons. We think we need a lot but in fact, the less they have, the less they fight and the more they are interested in exploring their surroundings.
If you cannot hire a baby cot at your destination, be sure to travel with one (travel cots can usually be checked in for free – most airlines allow at least 2 items for free per child under 2 or 5 depending on airline). We always travelled with a travel cot unless visiting family because we did not want to rely on a rented one. The most popular travel cots recommended by mums in our twins club are:
Red Kite travel cot which is very good value for money
TRAVELLING WITH TWINS – THE SUITCASE
What you pack and how much you pack in the suitcase varies greatly depending on climate conditions, change frequency etc. but I would certainly plan for a minimum of one outfit per day per baby/child (if you are able to get things washed). If you cannot wash anything at all you will need to add another 50% for each child to allow for intra day changes. Most nappies and wipes can be purchased abroad but if you are not certain to get your favourite brand, make sure you take everything with you. The same goes for formula which may not be the same wherever you go (even from same brand). If you plan to buy at your destination, make sure you have enough to keep you going for at least one day after arrival. The essential things you need for baby at destination. The key essentials to take are:
Eating utensils and small storage pots if they eat solids
Baby Nail clippers / scissors
Bottle cleaning brush
Toothbrushes and toothpaste (if age appropriate)
Hair brush (if age appropriate)
Hair clips and hair bands (if age appropriate)
Toys/books (age appropriate – stash in car seat bags)
Travel Potty or Ring (if appropriate- can be stashed in car seat bags)
Mattress protector if potty training
Travel cot sheets
Drawing paper / crayons/Pens (if age appropriate)
Spare snack pot (if age appropriate)
TRAVELLING ALONE WITH TWINS
Getting out of the house alone with twins is hard in its own right. Travelling alone with twins is in all together different league of difficult! Personally I do not recommend any twin parent to travel alone on a plane with twins under 2. Whilst I do have a friend who did short haul flights with her infant twins from 6 months onwards, she did not recommend it to anyone. She managed this by taking one twin in a carrier and one in the buggy with car seat (and then taking one car seat onto the plane on the seat next to her – which of course had to be booked). She had to minimise the amount of travel gear into one bag (no easy task).
I travelled alone with my girls for the first time on a short haul flight when they were 2.5 years old. I did have to take the buggy and therefore had to take taxis to and from the airport and also had to hire an airport porter (these can be booked in advance for Heathrow) to help me with the luggage. When you have a buggy to push and 2 car seats plus luggage to cart around, a porter is the only solution. Entertainment at that age is still key and I would not recommend more than short haul.
It becomes a lot easier to travel alone once your twins can manage without a buggy (a trunki may be a good alternative although it is hard to pull 2 of them at the same time). It is also easier once the twins are able to entertain themselves with the TV, some crayons and an ipad. We achieved this at age 3. Once we passed the 4 year old phase I was able to travel alone short haul with my girls with luggage and public transport without too much difficulty. There is light at the end of the tunnel! Whilst I have not attempted a long haul flight alone I would feel comfortable doing it based on the last 2 experiences (it does involve having kids with square eyes from hours of TV but it also means complete peace :-).
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