|Flying with my husband and our 18-month old twins.|
I'm not claiming to be an expert in this area, but I've recently been on two 3-hour flights with my husband and our very busy, very active 18 month old twin boys. I did a lot of research before the trip, and I learned a lot while traveling with them. First and foremost, nothing about traveling with toddlers is predictable. You just have to accept that. The only way to handle the unpredictability is to be prepared for anything and everything. We were VERY prepared, perhaps OVER prepared, however this didn't stop my husband and I from stressing over the actual flight and how the boys would behave.
Shoot for at least a 1:1 adult to toddler ratio. Hopefully you aren't the only adult flying with twin toddlers, and if you are, good luck. I've read that it's been done, but you won't catch me doing it. Not with my two monkeys!
Booking the flight:
If your toddlers are under 2 years of age, they can fly free as lap babies. Only one baby per lap. You can opt to purchase a seat for the toddler (offered by most airlines at a discounted rate, and preferred, as it's the safest way to travel), however you must use an FAA approved car seat. How do you know if you have one of these? The label on the carseat should read something along the lines of: Approved for use in motor vehicles and aircrafts. Call me a terrible parent, but not only was I not going to pay for 2 extra seats on the flight, I definitely wasn't going to lug two car seats through the airport on top of everything else we had to carry. If you have money to spend, they sell carseats with a luggage-type handle and on wheels for easy airport travel. I didn't have $400+ to drop on two. **If you have lap babies, remember to bring birth certificates to verify their age.
Packing the Carry-On:
Now is NOT the time to catch up on all the celebrity gossip in People or InStyle. First, you won't have room for your fave magazines, second, you won't be able to read; you'll be way too busy entertaining your children and keeping them contained in your seating area. Only bring what is absolutely necessary for you (wallet, keys, meds) and utilize all of the remaining space in your carry-on for things your child will need/want. First, you will need diapers and wipes. Pack enough to cover you in case the flight is late or gets diverted (for whatever reason) and you get stuck somewhere overnight. Hey, it happens. Next, a change of clothes (everything - comfortable outfit, onesies, socks, slippers or shoes) for each child. One of my little guys had a MAJOR BLOWOUT at the tail end of one of our flights and he was stripped, scrubbed and re-clothed with a fresh outfit, socks included. All in that tiny airplane bathroom. There should be a club for moms who have accomplished this task.
You'll definitely need some snacks and cups for the kiddies, so don't forget to cram those into the carry-on bag. When all else fails, Cheerios and Goldfish usually end up saving the day. (Cheerios and Fruit Loops work great for older kids. Bring along some string and have them make necklaces for the flight attendants ;) Activities are great (such as the necklace stringing, coloring, reading, flashcards, etc) if you're kids can stay focused, but mine don't at this age. We resorted to toys. Lots of toys. Go to the store and spend some cash. I spent about $30 on toys/electronics/stickers/stampers between the local dollar stores and the Target $1 bins. You want to hide all of these goodies from the kids (and if you have multiples, you must know by now that you must have two of everything, unless you want to become an instant referee. I'm perfectly happy with just being a mom and a ringleader. Don't need to add Ref to my titles just yet.) Slowly, as the flight goes on, introduce new toys to them, but only when they tire of the one they currently have.
|Andrew playing with a buckle-clip thingee.|
|Wesley stringing beads.|
Let your kids walk/run as much as possible before the flight. You want to wear them out. Maybe you will be lucky enough to find a play area in the airport you are in. We found a vacant gate with a ramp - the boys loved running up and down it. Board when they let families board, and try to get a seat in the bulkhead (first row), or do what we did and go all the way to the back of the plane. After you are seated, pray, pray and pray some more that it is NOT a full flight. If it is, there can only be one lap child per row, as there are only 4 oxygen masks that will fall from above in the event of an emergency (one for each paying passenger, and one extra for a lap child). If the flight isn't full, you can rest assured that nobody will want that third seat in your row. My hubs and I sat at either end of our row, and after take-off, the boys took turns rotating from our laps to the seat in between us. It was enough room to make the trip more bearable.
Before the flight, I may or may not have administered a small amount of a pediatric anti-histamine to my twins, hoping it would make them a bit drowsy. About two hours into the first flight, as the boys were literally climbing the back wall of the plane, I remember my husband asking, "When is this medicine supposed to kick in?" "I think it already has," I said with a silly, awkward grin. It literally did NOTHING, or so I thought. On the flight home, we went sans drugs, and it was much more chaotic, with crying and screaming, so maybe in hindsight, the meds worked a little magic. I still don't think I'd use them again, though. Do what you fell you need to do. I was desperate for a stress-free flight, and when the kids were medicated, we had an overall decent experience.
It doesn't take too much to get stressed out while traveling. I start sweating at just the thought of going through TSA; carrying heavy bags, taking off belts, emptying pockets, cell phone ringing...you know the feeling, right? The best thing that I took from all my pre-flying-with-twin-toddlers research, and the most important thing that I want you to take from this post is that it will do absolutely no good if you lose your cool when things start to go downhill. Psych yourself up before the flight to maintain a positive attitude, regardless of how your children behave and how those around you react to the childrens' behavior. You are not the first person to fly with little ones, and you sure as heck won't be the last. Don't let the stresses get to you once your trip is underway. Just go with the flow. We made a humorous disclaimer to those sitting around us before the flight. They knew what they could be in for, so we felt as though we appropriately warned everyone the possibilities that might ensue. As stressed and as worried as I was before the flight, I remember laughing hysterically (perhaps maniacally?) and smirking at/waving to anyone who turned around to see what all the fuss was in the back of the airplane while we experienced a massive Twinado, aka, the Double Meltdown.. There is nothing you can do about the situation beyond your over-the-top preparation. Sometimes, they just need to scream. Let them, and comfort them the best way you know how. If you start to cry (and I know this happens from time to time) it'll only make things more difficult. Take it with a grain of salt, because you deserve the vacation you're trying to get to, probably more than anyone else on the airplane!!
On a side note, is it bad that, at one point, I let my kids eat goldfish that fell on the airplane floor? They were quiet and still, just munching away under our feet. For a moment, I felt relief. I know my husband did, too. Now, I'm not one of those germ-a-phobe moms, so maybe it might be deemed as dirty and gross by some, but when needed, I don't hesitate to implement the 5 second rule (or 10 seconds, or 1 minute, or a 3 minute rule, for that matter.)
I sure hope some of my flying experience will help you on any adventures you might attempt with your little ones! Happy, safe and stress-free travels to all of you!