Two to Kiss, Two to Love: Traveling with Twins on Planes
As I write to you, I'm on vacation with my parents in California. We plan to do Disneyland next week, but in the meantime, are visiting with my mom's friend, Robyn. Robyn's daughter Katherine lives in their guest house, and came over with her 3-year-old to visit. She asked me if she could take the girls to her house so I could have a break for a bit. STOP. NEVER SAY NO TO THIS. "Yes, absolutely!" I responded. I'll catch up on some work, get little to-dos done that I just can't do with all the girls awake, and maybe, JUST maybe, I'll even take a shower. :) Currently, they are over at her house while I write to tell you all about our trip, on a plane, from Washington to California.I've flown with my twins and toddler a few times now. Once from Boise to Salt Lake City, by MYSELF. Then from Salt Lake City to Seattle with my husband. We went to New Jersey this past August and my husband was there. And this time, we came to California with my parents. Now, you tell me which one of those trips was the EASIEST. I'll give you a hint. It's probably not the one you're thinking. Flying by myself was by far the easiest trip I had with all three kids. Now, how can that be? When you have extra people, you have extra hands, people to help watch the kids, people to help you carry all the crap that has to come with you---carseats, strollers, the works! But believe me, twin mamas...you have a system. Instinctively, we must be set-up to have these systems in place to survive. So when someone messes with the system? Hell breaks loose. When I was by myself on that Boise to SLC trip, each kid had to have their own place on the stroller---twins in the carseats, toddler on the glider board. Bree, the toddler, pulled her suitcase in front of her, wore her backpack, and I pushed the stroller and pulled my suitcase behind us. People were everywhere to help the poor mom that had three kids by herself. And these people were actually HELPFUL. Instead of messing with the system, they helped guide the system along. When I got to the plane and had to take everything apart, several people were by my side to help out, to take all our bags where they needed to be, carry a baby, and get on the plane. It was PERFECT. Then I flew with anybody and everybody else. Like I said, when someone messes with your system, Hell breaks loose. They think they are being helpful by pulling a bag along, or having the toddler follow them, or telling you that you need to take this bag over here, and this stroller over there, and gate check this and this and this...I KNOW. LEAVE ME ALONE. It's like they think you've never dealt with your own children before. But you have. And you do fine. So why is this so much worse? So, let me tell you all the tips I know to travel with your twins. And most of them will probably involve not involving too many people. ;)
1. Have a systemYou already do. You may not think you do, but you do. There is a way you like to do things. There is a way you feel the most organized and sane, and it works for you. Outsiders may not feel the same way, but it's what works for YOU. And you, my friend, are the one with the twins, so TRUMP CARD!
2. Remember your system, even if you have helpersTry and stick to your system no matter what. If you have helpers, let them help by taking the suitcase you're pulling or just walking along side of you in case you need some help. I even mean your husbands. You do what you do, and let him carry a few things. But don't let him mess with your system. Give him one easy job, something you don't have to do yourself, and let him take that responsibility only. For real... you'll thank me. More help isn't always more helpful.
3. Keep it together.You need to have everything together. The more you can combine, the better. The less stuff you have to hold or handle will make it much easier. So try and keep everything in as little places as possible. Usually put your wallet and make-up essentials in your purse? Take them out and throw them in the diaper bag. There, you've already ditched one bag. When you pack, try and remember the order in which you will need things. First, you'll need your license and boarding passes, then you'll need your stroller bag for putting your stroller in so it doesn't get completely damaged when they throw it in the plane. You'll need your carry-on items after that, and make sure to keep the children's activities, snacks, etc under the seat instead of the overhead compartment, so you can easily grab them at any point in the flight.
4. TSATSA can be a nightmare. To avoid feeling like it's something you aren't ever going to wake up from, minimize the amount of stuff you have to have hand checked. If your stroller is big, they'll hand check it. If you bring bottled formula or breastmilk, they'll check it. If you have diaper rash cream over 3 oz, they will check it. Instead of facing all these checks, keep it simple. If you can bring fluids that are under 3 oz, or transfer them to bottles that are 3 oz or less, do it. If you have a bottle with water for your child, toss the water, get more when you get through security checks. And for all the things you HAVE to take and can't be avoided, call them out as soon as you see a TSA agent. Wave them down, and have them check it now, even if you're still in line. Don't wait for them to ask for them. Then, when you get through security, it will be checked and ready to go. It makes your life easier, and their job better.
NOW...You're all set. You're on the plane. Depending on the age of your twins, they may have their own seat. If they do, excellent. You can buckle them in and easily keep them entertained. If you can, bring their carseat and strap them into that (depending on the type of seat they have). For instance, a 5-point-harness carseat isn't easy to get out of like the plane seatbelt. Note here that if you have twin infants, you cannot fly with two free lap infants by yourself. You have to ticket one of them. There is only one extra oxygen mask per row, so one twin would have to have their own seat, while you have one lap infant. It's kind of sucky for the cost, but if you are by yourself, you'll want the extra seat. Plus, if you have their carseat, and it's nap time, they'll fall asleep better in that, then in your arms while trying to juggle both twins. Once you get on the plane, you'll also need a game plan, but just not as intense. This is where having help, no matter the help, is very wanted. If you have to go to the bathroom, someone is there to sit with them. If you have to take one twin for a diaper change, someone can sit with the other children. If a child is crying, you have someone to hand that child to. Help ON the plane IS, usually, very helpful. So let me throw a few more tips your way.
1. Snacks, snacks and more snacks.Have ALL of their favorites available. Especially if your kids are young and can't pop their ears, you'll want something they love to snack on so they are constantly swallowing, allowing them to pop their ears. If you have twin infants, and they take binkies, don't forget to have them suck on them for the ascent and the descent of the plane. Usually, once you're all the way up in the air, the beep has gone off, and all of your electronics can be turned on, they won't need to keep popping their ears. Word to the wise: make these snacks the least messy you can think of; you don't want crumbs everywhere! Fruit snacks are a favorite - already packaged, the packaging is small, and there are a lot of them in one package. Simplify snacks by putting them in little bags for each child, or some kind of container you can hand your children without making a huge mess.
2. Take entertainmentAt all other times I would tell you to limit the amount of television your child watches, or the use of electronics. However, here, bring it on. Whatever your kid likes to do, bring it. Keep them entertained. For older kids, magnetic games are awesome; the pieces can't bump and fall off, and they are busy for a while. The more options you have to entertain them with, the better. Prepare for how long your flight is; if it's under two hours, you'll only need one movie, but if it's over, a few more might be wise. And if your kid is picky, you'll have to have options, right?
3. Utilize the flight attendantsThe flight attendants are there to help you. Use them. If you need something simple, push that flight attendant button and have them bring it to you. Even if you just need someone to sit with your kids while you go to the bathroom, ask them. They are more than willing to help out, so don't make it harder on yourself than you have to. Even if you have help, they can fill up a bottle with apple juice or water, or bring you another snack if you've run out (but you probably won't because you followed these tips. ;) )
And you're done! Get off the plane! Put everything back together, and continue with your travels. And don't forget to have fun and enjoy! You're probably on vacation, right? So...vacation!
*The “Two to Kiss, Two to Love” series is a helpful series for all you twin mamas out there! If you have a twin related question, comment below, and I’ll answer it for you!*