We took our infant twin girls up to Toronto last month and boy it was a nail biter. Although the girls had already flown to Chicago (at 9 weeks old), we weren’t really sure how things would be now that we were past the newborn stage. Virtually all of the advice singleton parents gave us, while spot on for a singleton didn’t really take into account the team approach that traveling (or raising!) twins requires. You live and learn however, and we applied some of our travel knowledge to the twin situation with pretty good results. The key as always with travel is to plan, plan, plan. You cannot be over prepared for traveling with twins. That doesn’t mean traveling with twins requires you to over pack, in fact it means the opposite, pack only what you need because extra luggage with twins is a real pain in the neck (and back!). We’ll go over what we bring in another post.
Travel with Twins: Four Key Steps
Step 1: Choose your flight carefully.
There are some airlines that are family friendly and some airlines that are business traveler friendly. Choosing a family friendly airline whether you are traveling with twins or a single baby can mean the difference between life or death. Ok, not that dramatic, but remember that traveling with a baby, just like raising a baby requires team work. That’s especially true when you are dealing with twins. Look for an airline that accommodates families through flexible scheduling (Southwest), a free carry-on bag with a lap baby, family seating or open seating. Take a flight that coordinates well with your baby’s sleep and feeding schedule. We try to take off just around the time the girls will be hungry. Sounds counter intuitive, but it ensures that they are hungry when we feed them during take off- a key to helping their ears adjust to the cabin pressure.
Step 2: Be prepared for security
Getting behind a family with twins may be a business traveler’s nightmare but it doesn’t have to be. Prepare for security before you get there. I have two separate carry on bags, one with my breast milk, pump and toiletries and electronics – basically everything that needs to be separated or declared. Toys, books and activities go in the other bag. Before I even get to the X-ray machine I tell the TSA agent that I have breast milk and I separate it on the belt. Then we lay things on the belt in the order in which we’ll need them on the other side, stroller first, then car seats, then shoes, etc… We’ll talk more about traveling with twins and airport security in another post.
Step 3: Choose your seat carefully
Although you can sit with your partner if you are traveling with one baby, we were surprised to find our that traveling with twins required us to sit in separate rows – either across the aisle from each other or behind one another. That’s because planes are designed to accommodate only one lap baby, i.e. in a row of three seats there are only four oxygen masks. Knowing this before you get on the plane will help you choose seats that work together, versus having to be resat far apart once you are on the plane. You absolutely want your partner near you when you are traveling with twins- strength in numbers!
Step 4: Use your twin attention to your advantage
The moment we get out of the car anywhere we get attention, so why not use it? We smiled, the girls cooed and we chatted it up with our fellow passengers before we got on the plane. We kept the babies, happy, occupied and smiling in the gate area. When people said to us for the 100th time that day, boy do you have your hands full, we smiled and made small talk. In our experience flight attendants are just like everyone else, they love playing with babies. Use that to your advantage and ask to be placed near an open seat (if the seats are assigned) or to be moved to the back of the plane where the twins will be less disruptive. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t ask and in our experience airline staff is more than happy to accommodate.
Traveling with twins isn’t as scary as we thought it would be and dare I say it was easier the second time around.