I was sitting in the departure lounge at the airport, waiting to fly to Ottawa to see an old friend (old in that we’ve been friends for a long time, not that she’s old – not that there’s anything wrong with being old 😉 ). As I sat, I watched my 7 year-old twins play, and I couldn’t help thinking back to how different it was to travel with my twins when they were little. I realized that I’d learned some lessons that might help others.
Out of that walk down memory lane came these 5 Tips for Flying with Twins, plus 3 Tips for Selecting a Flight 🙂 .
Some of the tips I learned the hard way. Okay, I pretty much learned all of them the hard way 😉 .
Because I stayed home with our twins, I did quite a bit of solo traveling with my twins. Solo, in that I didn’t have another adult with me. I’ve selected these tips with solo travel in mind, but they would, of course, still be helpful even if you’ve brought along another adult.
5 TIPS FOR FLYING WITH TWINS
+ 3 Tips for Choosing a Flight
Bring another adult with you.
Don’t travel alone!
Okay, so not really a tip. I’m pretty sure if you had a choice, you wouldn’t be flying with twins solo – at least not when they’re little. But take it from me, it’s best to travel with a second adult (or other variety of responsible person – like a teenager).
You just might have to be a little creative.
When my twins where still babies, I learned, much to my frustration that Transport Canada (via the Canadian Aviation Regulations) only allows a person to be responsible for one child under two on an airplane. For further information check out the Government of Canada Website. This is regardless of whether or not you pay for a seat for one of them. The regulation is there for safety, as it would be very difficult for one person to help two small children (especially infants) off the plane.
My initial reaction to learning this regulation was extreme frustration (to put it mildly). Surely another passenger would help me in the unlikely event that we had to evacuate? But, I guess, now that the regulation no longer affects me. (You can interpret that to mean that now that I can look at the regulation objectively because it isn’t messing up my travel plans). I can understand how it isn’t really a good idea in emergency situations to be depending on what someone else might do.
And let me just say, that looking back now, I can thank Transport Canada and their “frustrating” regulation because it saved me from myself. Traveling on the plane with two infants would’ve been a nightmare!
WHAT DID I DO?
I needed to get to Calgary to see my family. I couldn’t fly with my twins by myself. What was I going to do?
The drive between Victoria and Calgary takes about eleven hours – not including time spent waiting for the ferry to the mainland. Once you get off the ferry, most of those eleven hours are in the Rocky Mountains. Now, the drive is stunningly beautiful, but that’s about all it has to recommend it (well worth it, if you’ve never done it though).
To start, the driving conditions are difficult. Plus, the road is prone to bad weather. And finally, let’s not forget how remote it is. There can be hundreds of kilometers between towns. Imagine if I had car trouble – did I mention no cell service?
Plus, I’d made the trip once already, and so I can with authority add to the list one or more crying baby for the entire drive – thank goodness my friend had gone with me.
TIME TO GET CREATIVE
My experience of trying to get home to see my family taught me that if you’re creative, then you can find a solution.
If the other parent of your twins can’t fly with you, then put the word out to others you know. You just might find that there is someone else who is planning to make a trip to the same destination. You might have to change your dates slightly, but, TRUST ME, it’s worth it.
Remember, the person you take with you, doesn’t have to be good with kids. They just have to be willing to be the extra body AND help if there’s an emergency. And what are the odds of that happening? Okay, yes I know I’ve probably just jinxed myself, but I’m just saying…
It is, of course, desirable if you can find someone who will actually help you with keeping track of and entertaining your twins 🙂 .
So, if you find yourself alone and flying with twins, take a moment to check if there just might be some unexpected person who can make the journey with you.
It’s worth it, I promise you!
Keep your carry-on to a minimum.
Keeping track of one kid and their stuff is enough of a headache. And with twins, it gets doubly fun.
Just because the airline allows you to bring two carry-on items per person, doesn’t mean you should. Until your twins are of an age where they can reliably keep track of their own stuff, you don’t want to have to be handling multiple bags.
Your little ones might be willing to carry a backpack and pull a case behind them, but trust me when I say that they aren’t going to do it at every moment. You might just find yourself juggling all the carry-ons as you navigate the narrow airplane isles.
Plus, don’t forget that you’re going to have to handle all those bags during bathroom stops and meals. Basically, everything you do will involve ALL of those bags.
For the Twins:
I recommend having each twin carry a backpack with a few of their personal items in it – such as a stuffy and a few toys. They could also have a small water bottle in there. Yes, I know, you can’t take liquid through security – I’ll address this in tip #4.
For you, I suggest bringing two bags. Invest in one of those rolling type carry-on bags; the type with wheels and the pull-out handle (see picture). Make sure it isn’t ridiculously big – you don’t want to be that guy who everyone is waiting for while they try to jam their gigantic bag into the overhead bin.
In this first bag pack the things that you probably won’t need on the flight. This would include things like medication and a change of clothes for your twins. You’re going to tuck this away in the overhead bin, so you don’t want to have to keep accessing it during the flight.
For your second bag, I recommend getting a bag with the zipper across the top and the special sleeve on the bag that slides over the handle of your rolling suitcase (see picture).
I prefer this style to a backpack because a backpack can be tricky to maneuver with when you’re in the narrow isle of the plane. This style of bag attaches to your other bag, essentially making them one and much easier to handle.
This is the bag that is going to go under the seat in front of you, so the zipper on top makes it much easier to access the items in it. Put the things you’ll need for sure in here: snacks, electronics, etc.
EXTRA CARRY-ON TIPS
- Once the plane has taken off, give yourself some more leg room by pulling your bag out from under the seat and putting directly in front of your seat. Your legs will go over top of the bag, you won’t even notice it’s there, and you’ll have all the space under your seat for your legs to stretch out.
- Stash a soft bag (like a reusable shopping bag) in your carry-on. It won’t take up any room, and you can pull it out to put extra items like coats and mitts that your kids take off once in the warmth of the airport.
- If you have bulkier items like blankets and neck pillows that you want to use on the flight, but they don’t fit in the bag for under your seat, store them at the top of your rolling case in a soft bag. It will make it really quick to pull them out when you reach your seat just before you stow your bag in the overhead bin. Once you’ve wrangled your twins into your row, just crack open the zipper of your bag and pull out the bag with your extra items J .
Have some way to carry BOTH twins
You absolutely need to have some way to carry both of your twins and all your carry-on. Even if they’re old enough to walk, this is still critical. At least until they’re about 4 or 5.
How did I learn this, you ask?
On a short flight to visit my mom in Calgary, one of my twins fell asleep shortly before we landed. Try as I might, I couldn’t get him to wake up enough to walk. I’d been trying to minimize the stuff I was dealing with, and since they were 3 and quite capable of walking, I hadn’t bothered to bring a stroller. BIG MISTAKE. As soon as my second twin figured out that I was going to be carrying his brother, he pitched a fit.
This is an unfortunate issue with twins – if one needs to be carried, they both suddenly need to be carried.
The entire way from the gate to the waiting area, I was struggling to carry one twin, his backpack and my carry-on bag while dragging the other sobbing twin. It was a really fun end to a trip which could’ve easily been avoided had I brought a stroller.
You’ll have to figure out the best combination for you, based on what equipment you have and your comfort level. My double stroller was a side by side, and I didn’t like the hassle of taking it through security because it required all kinds of extra screening because of its size. It didn’t fit through the x-ray machine. And it was just generally awkward to maneuver in the airport.
My preference was to take a small, folding stroller and a carrier (something like an Ergo). This way, one twin could sit in the stroller, the other could go on my back, and I could loop the handle of my rolling case over one handle of the stroller.
I liked the soft carrier because it folded down small when I didn’t need it.
Another lesson learned:
The other advantage to having some way to carry your twins is that it also keeps them contained. My first time traveling alone on the plane with them, after they’d turned two, I tried out a set of those backpacks with the leashes. TOTAL DISASTER.
When I got them all set up in their backpacks, the first thing they did was each go in completely opposite directions, so that I was standing there with my arms extended with my twins pulling in opposite directions. I had no way to reel them back in without jerking them back and making them fall. I sure wish I had a picture. We provided some entertainment for the other passengers I’m sure.
Bring snacks and water
Even for a shorter flight, you should bring snacks and water. You can’t predict when your twins are going to get hungry or thirsty. And crabby twins are no fun.
Food service on planes is unpredictable.
I don’t recommend depending on what’s available to eat on the airplane, because it can be really unpredictable. I’ve been on flights where there wasn’t any food service. Sometimes when it’s rough the food service is shut down or if the plane was delayed on its previous flight, they might have run out of items and not been able to restock.
Even though there are pretty much always drinks offered on flights (except some really short ones), I still recommend having a water bottle with you. You can stash it in your bag empty, and then once you get through security fill it up at the fountain.
There can be big delays in waiting for the flight attendants to come by for drinks, if you have your own at your seat, then you don’t have to worry about it.
Bonus: if the water is contained in a water bottle, the likelihood that it’s going to get spilled all over you and your twins is basically nil; not so with the little plastic cup they bring. Plus, if you do get their drink in a cup, and they don’t drink it right away, now you have to worry about spilling it when accessing your bags; water bottle solves this problem too.
What about at the airport?
I don’t recommend completely relying on food that you can buy at the airport either. Even if you have a long stop over. Some airports are really large, so it’s hard to know what will be near your gate. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to have to traipse all over the airport with your twins.
Plus, if you’re flight gets delayed, or you get stuck in a long security line, you just might not have enough time to get your meals. Be prepared.
When flying with twins, always have snacks and drinks at hand.
Entertainment for two
Even for short flights, you’re going to need things for your twins to do. And don’t forget the time spent waiting at the airport.
Picking things to take on the plane can be tricky. You don’t want them to be noisy and you don’t want a lot of little pieces that are going to fall on the floor.
I typically bring the following:
- Colouring. Children of almost any age will colour.
- Etch a sketch. You can get some travel sized ones.
- Books. We read books when waiting to board and during stops overs
- Toys. I bring a Tupperware container with a few toys in it. The Tupperware container gives them an area to play while keeping the toys contained.
- Travel games. Many can be adapted even for little guys.
- Cards. We have card holders that we picked up at a toys store that help the kids hold their cards. We like Go Fish and Uno.
What about electronics?
This really depends on your stance on screen time for your kids. We’re pretty strict about screen time, but when I’m traveling alone with my twins, I relax the rules a little bit, otherwise I pretty much get zero breaks during the entire journey.
Netflix allows you to download shows to your tablet/phone. Plus there are some really good logic and reading apps out there.
Remember to bring headphones. If you only have one tablet, don’t forget to bring a headphone splitter.
If you’re flight is longer, it might not be a bad idea to bring a power source, so you can recharge on the go.
Lots of airlines have built-in entertainment systems, but I don’t like to rely on them. Once, two of the screens at our seat were not functioning. Plus, on some airlines you have to use your own device to access the entertainment or pay a fee to rent one.
BONUS ENTERTAINMENT TIP: Audiobooks are amazing when flying with twins. And they have the bonus of giving you a break without resorting to electronics 🙂 .
My kids love to have books read to them. They will sit for a really long time and listen. But, I don’t like reading on the plane. First of all, it makes me nauseous. Second of all, it feels disruptive to the other passengers. I’ll read in the airport but not on the plane.
I’ve done a whole blog post about making your own audiobooks – which, in my opinion, are much better than the ones you can purchase; at least until they’re ready for chapter books. Check out my system in: TWIN HACKS: Creating Your Own Audiobooks.5 Tips for Flying with Twins + 3 Tips for Choosing a Flight. Click To Tweet
3 TIPS FOR SELECTING A FLIGHT WHEN FLYING WITH TWINS
I probably don’t need to mention this one. But, it’s really important. A flight with an extra stop-over might be cheaper, but the savings might not be worth it once you factor in the aggravation of dragging your twins across the airport, waiting for another flight and then getting settled back on the plane
Plus more stop-overs means a longer time spent traveling.
Red eye vs Day flight
I wouldn’t recommend a red eye flights under 4 hours. But, when those flight start to get longer there can be a benefit to taking the red eye.
There are a few factors to consider when making your decision:
- Are there any stopovers in the middle of the night? You’ll have to wake the kids to do it.
- Will your kids sleep on the plane?
- Can you sleep on the plane?
Check what kind of Aircraft
Your first reaction might be what on earth? Why does it matter which airplane we’re on as long as it has two wings and some engines to get us where we’re going?
When you’re flying with twins by yourself, the type of airplane can make a big difference. Some of the smaller planes only have two seats on each side of the isle – definitely not ideal.
If you buy your tickets online, it should tell you what kind of aircraft you’ll be on. If you have the choice of a flight with a larger plane – take it. Plus bigger planes are usually faster.
This is usually only a problem on shorter flights (I haven’t experienced it on a flight longer than 2 hours), but even if you’re going a longer distance but have several stopovers, you might run into this issue – best to check.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
I’ll wrap up quickly, as this has been a long one.
Thanks for sticking with me to the end. I hope you’ve found something that will make your next trip just a little bit easier.
One last BONUS TIP: Check in early – you don’t want the stress of finding out that there aren’t three seats together on the plane. Most airlines let you check in 24 hours in advance. I recommend doing it the moment you can.
Have fun traveling. And remember, if you focus on enjoying the journey rather than on the destination, your trip will be more enjoyable.
Do you have tips for flying with twins or kids in general? You can share them in the comments below.
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