We recently experienced our first time traveling with the twins under 2 on an airplane (New Jersey to Florida) for the Holidays and I’ll be the first to admit that we won’t be putting ourselves through it (willingly) again anytime soon haha. Of course it was quite the experience, especially given the time of our flight and missing two necessary naps as a result – oh well, ya live & learn! Needless to say, it could have been MUCH worse & way more stressful if we weren’t prepared.
In the two weeks leading up to this trip, I searched endlessly for a twin travel guide for tips that was available for FREE – yes, people try to pinch every penny for this niche topic of traveling with twins! We had a couple road trips under our belt already, but flying is slightly different – more gear to move around, more of a time crunch, more people etc. I did my best to compile everything that has helped us in the event of traveling with twins (or more than two children) that are under 2 years old.
As we continue on our family adventures and attempt another intentional flight all together, I’ll be sure to recap as the ages change. But for those of you twin parents or parents of two under two traveling for the first time, here’s what has helped us keep our cool during the entire trip. Travel with twins is unlike anything I’ve done before, but I feel confident that all the steps mentioned below is what led us to being able to manage it all.
TWIN TRAVEL: WAYS TO GET AHEAD OF THE CHAOS
Make a master packing list: for kids & for yourself (shocking how easily you’ll forget things, for you) Pro-Tip: Make a separate last minute packing list for items you can’t pack in advance but are likely to forget (baby monitor, supplements)
Begin organizing: put clothing/items you won’t need until at destination into packing cubes (love these & use them often)
Pack with purpose: sort outfits by # of days in destination, group like-items together i.e. accessories (hats, socks), pajamas/overnight diapers, etc. I saw someone use an over-the-door shoe organizer for her kids’ outfits per day and it looked like a space-saving, time-saving genius hack! Might try it next time.
Simple outfits for day-of travel: do yourself a favor and put the kids in the easiest outfit to change diapers in, can be footie pajamas with a zipper if that’s your ticket to fast changes
Packed Bag(s) of Necessities, Within Reach From Passenger Seat
X amount of bottles, formula, & water for # of feeds calculated by # of expected hours in car
Portable changing pad + diapers, wipes, & doggy bags for used diapers, hand sanitizer
Kids’ Insurance Cards (can leave in diaper bag pocket, but important know where they are) + mini first aid kit (just in case)
(2) sets of clothes for backup changes (shirt + pant/short)
I got these labeled packing pouches to help sort all the things & it made finding what I was looking for in a pinch much easier.
For The Trunk of Your Car
Roll of paper towels
Portable trash receptacle (can place on back of front seats during drive)
“Oh Sh*t Towels” for a multitude of reasons (any general, old towel will do)
Portable, chargeable handheld vacuum
This trunk storage bin has been so great keeping all the above organized & accessible.
Sources of Entertainment
Tiny Traveler Car Video Monitor (mostly for parents, but can hang toys from it for kids if desperate)
Raffi Music or White Sound (so obnoxious but the tunes/static sound truly worked to settle the kiddos &/or get them to nap)
There are two hands-free ways to transport young traveling twins in an airport – 1) baby wearing one per adult, and 2) double-stroller. However, for our 10/11 month old twins at the time, we opted for this double snap-n-go carseat stroller frame as we didn’t want to gate-check our enormous Bugaboo Donkey / we had a double running stroller already waiting for us to use at our destination (thank you MIL!) As they get older, the collapsible double-folding stroller will suffice & we’ll check the carseats along with our luggage at bag drop. But if you’re in a position to travel while the kiddos are still under 1, this served to be a great solution. Plus the basket storage underneath was terrific!
Familiarize yourself with TSA Rules regarding formula/water through security, as well as your chosen airline’s terms when it comes to flying with children under 2. It will give you peace of mind to be informed of what you can/can’t do well in advance; security is stressful enough…
Here are a few time-saving TSA rules to note:
TSA allows powdered formula, breastmilk, bottled water for baby through security – you don’t even have to have a baby with you for it to be permissible. You’re advised to let them know in advance & try to put all powder/liquids in clear bottles; have them readily accessible to pull out for individual scanning. This also applies to baby wipes – they’re often detected as a liquid. *If using bottled water for formula bottles, I’d just plan to buy them once through security unless you’re using a specific brand for X reason that might not be available in airport.
For powdered formula, I transported mine in this portable formula container for ease of access & to not have to bring the whole can. Just be sure to separate the (original formula) scoop into a ziplock bag so you don’t have to dig around locating it with un-sanitized fingers later on. *The container comes with a scoop but I wouldn’t use it given each brand formula scoop is specially designed for appropriate feed measurements.
Breast pumps, diaper bags, bottle bags – Any bag holding baby things primarily does not count as your personal item if you already have a carry-on. Hooray! Personally suggest using a spacious backpack as a diaper bag in this scenario. I packed my large-size Dagne Dover with everything mentioned above in the necessity list & had room for more (shockingly.) The less you have to physically carry in your hands on/off the plane, the easier it’ll be overall.
Depending on the Airline
We generally fly United so I’ll use it as the example. United does not allow for two lap infants in one row (one side of plane) UNLESS you buy all three seats. This is what we opted for to maximize space, booking the 3rd seat under one of the twins’ names & the other remaining a lap infant. If you don’t want to purchase a third seat (can be expensive, but worth it IMO) then you’ll have to be prepared to sit in front of one another, most likely aisle seat to make things easier for yourself.
Another seating scenario (if you buy the row) is to bring one infant in a carseat (place in window seat) aboard. You can gate-check your stroller & second carseat (I recommend putting them in these bags to prevent additional scuffs/surface damage).
** I will say that we did the carseat on the flight down but opted to gate check both for the return flight. We had high hopes one of the twins would snooze in the carseat – wishful thinking on our part. We also found it to be extremely frustrating to have to carry aboard & down the narrow aisle, along with everything else. But if you have a good sleeper or a twin that’s content hanging out in the carseat, might be worth it to have one set of adult hands free.
Final diaper changes before getting on aircraft. Shockingly, most planes have a changing table in one of the lavatories. Ask the flight attendant which one has it / how to use it (if difficult) as soon as you board plane. If no changing table, ask what would be the best approach to handling a dirty, stinky diaper – might have to do it on floor of galley in the back of plane, but at least you don’t have to stress about what to do if you ask in advance.
Try to make the bottles before boarding. Believe me, it’ll spare you from demanding screams & cries once seated and the bottles are in sight of “starving” twin infants lol. Gel packs for purposes of bottle cooling are also allowed through TSA, so if there’s a delay you won’t have to be too concerned if you were without. This bottle cooling bag is what I have & use anytime we travel/feed on the go – it’s the perfect size & clips easily onto the diaper bag. Fits (4) 8oz Doctor Browns bottles inside.
Get “Special Handling Tags” from the gate attendant as soon as you can. Once you have them, you can get a head start by placing the carseats (eventually stroller) into gate-check bags to protect them from dirt/surface damage. It also helps to identify them once off the plane at your destination. Tip: Attach a luggage tag with your last name or identifying initial, as well as an Air Tag to the items you’re gate-checking, can’t hurt to know exactly where they are considering how essential they are to your travel plans. Also you’ll be surprised how many people think the airline staff place their bagless carseats & strollers into complimentary bags lol. I had to prove the carseats were ours inside from an oblivious passenger, thanks to the bag tag attached.
Take advantage of priority boarding with children under 2 years – it helps you not feel as rushed while folding up the stroller & placing into its own gate-check bag right at the plane door, all parents also pre-boarding with under 2 kids are likely doing the same.
During Takeoff & Flight
Try to feed during takeoff to help little ears adjust to the air pressure in a more pleasant manner.
Noise-Cancelling/Volume-Reducing Baby Headphones: to help calm those overstimulating sounds of the plane, especially if your baby is more sensitive to new environments such as this would be
A FEW REMINDERS FOR YOU AMAZING PARENTS DECIDING TO TRAVEL WITH TWINS (OR 2+ KIDS UNDER TWO)
Give yourself plenty of time to get to your final destination – from traffic on the drive to navigating a busy airport with two infants, best to leave an additional hour of wiggle room for things out of your control to go awry.
Be flexible, rarely will things go to plan (in general) but especially on travel day. Don’t let your hopes of things going smoothly tarnish your mood; have the “expect the worst, hope for the best” motto on this particular day!
Try to find humor in the uncomfortable – like changing the nasty diaper of a wiggly baby, on the passenger seat of the car you were just sitting in, at a random rest stop with no changing table, in the pouring rain – hilarious scene to witness, happened to me!
Please don’t feel bad if your baby cries the whole flight – it’s not your fault & you can only do so much. If someone gives you a hard time, there will be someone else speaking up to defend you. I’ve seen it countless times on flights – most people are understanding. If you feel your cheeks & eyes getting hot from embarrassment + frustration, remember that you’ll probably never see any of these strangers again; sometimes that helps to recall in the moment.
Like anything, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Think about how well-adjusted your kids will be in these travel settings in just a couple years simply from exposure. You’re doing a great job getting a start this early on, whether it’s intentional or not.
Infants are mind-readers & will generally behave based on how they interpret your emotions. Be confident, they’ll lean into it. Be actively stressed, they’ll feed into it. If you’re cool/calm/collected, chances are they’ll follow suit. Easier said than done but try to actively pretend it’s just any other day at home or like a special “field-trip” similar to the park/store before nap time. The mindset will do wonders for your vulnerable psyche.
I hope this post provided some helpful tips for tackling twin travel or traveling with more than one child under 2!
For those of you veterans in the “travel with multiples” game, please share any tips/tricks/hacks you have in the comments below that I didn’t mention or cover – we can always learn more!