Air travel can be taxing — emotionally, physically and mentally — more so if you’re lugging around double the baggage and triple the headache. Flying with twins ups the travel ante and requires that much more focus and pre-flight preparation. So how do you keep nerves calm and tots quiet without losing your cool 30,000 feet in the air?
Snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.
Prior to stepping foot on an aircraft, your first priority should be to outline what it is you need to bring as a carry-on. It’s no longer sufficient to just throw your cell phone, a good book and headphones into your purse. Twin travelers have double the needs and the effort you put into packing up goodies before the flight, the more comfortable mommy and babies will be. Think: sippy cups, bottles, toys, nursing gear and a change of clothes.
Depending on your twins’ age, one of the most important items to keep them busy during the flight is snacks. Try to avoid messy snacks (some baby cookies, for example, get very soft and gooey in wet little hands; some crackers flake off and make too many crumbs) so go for dry cereal, small crackers (like goldfish) or raisins. Julie Renaghan of Shrewsbury, MA, mom of 18-month old twins Sean and Sloane, suggests ready mix bottles of formula, while other parents love to pack pre-measured powdered formula that they fill with water once they go through security.
When traveling, Maggie Roth of Natick, MA, finds the “off-limit items” a hot ticket with 12-month old twins Anna and Laura. “Our girls are constantly trying to play with the remote controls,” she says, “so we took the batteries out and brought them with us, as well as car keys, empty plastic water bottles (caps/rings removed) and some other stuff we won’t usually let them play with.”
While these items can easily provide entertainment for your twins, Maggie also recommends traveling with a laptop and Baby Einstein video “just in case.” Elisabeth Devine of Marlborough, MA and mom to 17-month-old Logan and Ella brought along her iPad on multiple flights with her twins when they were only nine months old and again at one year.
Similar visual stimulation will occupy your twins and maybe, just maybe, you’ll fit in a quick cat-nap or 10 minutes of uninterrupted think-time while trying to solve The New York Times Crossword Puzzle. A woman can dream, can’t she?
Lap-Infants and the Ideal Seating Configuration
Next on the agenda is to decide how your twins will travel. Will they sit on the laps of you and your hubby or tucked into their FAA-approved car seat? According to our mom brain trust, the former seems the best (and least expensive) choice, at least until your twins turn two.
“[The] best configuration is for you and your husband to get aisle seats across from each other,” says Jill Frattaroli of Westwood, MA, mom of two-year-old twins Michael and Patrick. That’s sound advice given that airlines won’t allow passengers and their infant children to sit in the same row on the same side of the carrier due to the lack of oxygen masks. Sitting side by side, even with an aisle in between you, still allows for you to pass the essential items back and forth, and gives you and your child a bit more wriggle room.
However, if the flight isn’t full and seats are available, airlines will allow two adults and two lap-infants in a three row seat. “It’s worth paying the extra money to reserve that configuration in advance versus asking other passengers to rearrange during boarding,” says Maggie, “particularly on family-filled holiday season flights when no one wants to rearrange.”
Christina Roberts of Arlington, MA and mom to 2-year-old Leah and Wake, also recommends buying at least one baby a seat because the flight is much more pleasant when parents can take turns holding the lap baby.
Carriers and CRS Devices
If it isn’t possible to buy an extra seat, however, Christina recommends taking a small car seat like the Graco Snugride on board. Without its base, it can fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane, and if an empty seat is available, it can be used for one of the twins. “Having at least one car seat set up to use during the flight is a huge help,” she says.
Renting car seats through a car rental company such as Hertz, or a travel baby site, can be a viable option as well, though Jill recommends a very basic convertible one to limit the hassle of installation and carrying.
While visiting in-laws in Florida, Maggie even utilized a service called “Baby Bundles,” a full-service baby equipment rental company. “My in-laws were able to rent two infant seats and bases in advance which were sterilized and delivered to their door and they were able to install before picking us up at the airport, so we didn’t need to mess around with it,” she says.
Traveling with infants is never a cake-walk, so it helps to call airlines ahead of time to discuss your individual needs and address some of your more pressing concerns.
And if that doesn’t work, just dress your twins in something cute to offset traveling with so much gear. Who can resist an adorable baby?