First off let me start by saying you are brave and in for an adventure. Whether it’s one baby or two, there is a lot of work involved when traveling with babies. My mom and I took our first trip with the twins and quite frankly I was exhausted afterwards. Here are some of the things I learned along the way:
I would first start by asking your friends that have traveled with babies if they have any helpful advice, because lets be real we learn from those around us. Trying to research on the internet can be overwhelming, so I started by calling a twin mom friend of mine and asking her what I should know. She was able to answer some of my questions and gave me some good ideas about what to expect. I then poked around online a little to dig deeper into some of my questions.
Before booking your tickets I would consider flight times and length. I would recommend trying to book around nap time in hopes that your kiddos might sleep on the flight. If the flight is more than 4 hours I would recommend booking in the evening, again hoping your babies will either sleep on the flight or as soon as you arrive to your destination.
If your babies are under two they can fly for free and sit on your lap. You will need to bring a copy of their birth certificate because they will issue a pass for them to get through security. Without a birth certificate and or passport most airlines will not issue a ticket for the baby. I have a friend that learned this the hard way and lost a lot of money by missing their flight since they didn’t have proper documentation.
We were flying Southwest which was awesome because we were able to check 4 bags for free. One bag was my moms, one bag contained both of our car seat bases and the other two bags were a combination of my pump, all baby items and all of my necessities. Honestly it would have been hard to go with less items. With careful planning and packing this was the minimum amount of luggage we could make the trip with. We definitely would have had a hard time handling more but it would have been tough with less.
If you can do curbside check in this will make your life much easier so that you are not hauling luggage and babies through the airport. It is worth the $5 tip every time! Once our bags were checked we headed for security.
Getting through security was an interesting experience. What I learned is that you need to have a plan of attack to make it as quick and painless as possible. For starters allow yourself plenty of extra time. It is inevitable that you will have to stop to change diapers, clean spit up or an unexpected blowout! It is a good idea to carry with you an extra 10% of food and diapers so you are covered for any unexpected troubles along the way. As we approached the end of the security line we prepped all that we could. We put the babies in the carriers strapped to us. I did not realize before we got up to the belt that the car seats would need to be removed from the stroller and put on the belt to go through the security scanner. My bag was prepped and ready to go so that was easy to pop off the stroller and send through. The item for the biggest potential delay is breast milk. To minimize time and inspection I put the milk in 2.5oz bottles. I packed only enough for our flight and arrival. Being in 2.5oz bottles meant that they did not have to open and test each container. I was not a fan of the idea of test strips in my milk so I took this approach to avoid it. Hard ice packs are also allowed to keep milk cold. Luckily there is a Starbucks in every corner of every airport so warming milk was simple. By having our items organized it allowed for an easy reset of everything once we were cleared. I cannot tell you how much I recommend the norwex travel pack of EnviroCloths. These are a powerful non-toxic cleaning tool. The cloths work wet or dry and it was nice to have something to wipe down the car seats with after being on the belt. I also used them to wipe my hands, the kids and parts of our rental car.
After making it to the terminal we knocked out all portions of our routine so we were ready for the smoothest flight possible. We stopped so the kids could eat, we changed them, fed ourselves and headed to the gate. When you arrive at the gate your stroller, car seats and any other large items will need a gate check tag. Typically they only allow 2 gate check items per ticketed passenger so keep that in mind. Right before boarding we put the babies back in the body carriers and broke down all portions of our bag and stroller that we could avoid holding up the line to get on the plane. Keep in mind that everything needs to be removed from the car seats and there cannot be any loose items. I also hooked and tightened all my straps to avoid catching, tearing or breaking. At the end of the jet way we dropped our stroller and car seats. I highly recommend having some toys for the kids that you can attach to the carrier. We used these books with a hook , this pacifier clip and the dropper stopper is an awesome option to hook your child’s favorite toy to you. The rest of our items were in this amazing Vera Bradley Bag. This bag was awesome because it was big enough to hold everything we needed to carry on in one bag. The zipper also expands the bag to give you much more space once you arrive if you need to change or add items to it.
A wise tip I got from my fellow twin mom friend is that you cannot have two lap children in the same 3 seat row. Luckily I knew this in advance so my mom and I set out to make sure we could get two aisle seats next to each other. We paid for early boarding with Southwest since seats are not assigned and it was well worth it. Another thing I like about Southwest is that it allows for people that love kids to choose to sit next to you vs getting suck next to someone that will only be bothered by kids and will give you dirty looks the whole time! We were fortunate to sit next to some amazing people and that helped lessen my anxiety with the whole experience. Another thing I didn’t realize before taking off was that the kids would have to be taken out of the baby carriers. Apparently having them strapped to you is unsafe during takeoff and landing so they need to be freely out. That makes no sense to me but it would have helped to know that in advance.
When you arrive allow plenty of time to gather all your goods, feed babies, change diapers, etc. We didn’t realize how long it would take us to do all of this and also how long it would take us to get settled into our rental car. Remember you will need to install both car seats, which can take a fair amount of time depending on the style seat you have. I also highly recommend upgrading to a midsize car. You simply just won’t fit in the small cheap ones with two car seats, bags and a stroller.
When you book your hotel notify them in advance if you will need cribs, a fridge or anything else because if you arrive and haven’t notified them these items can be hard to come by. Our fridge was key for keeping milk cold and if you are using bottles this travel drying rack was a lifesaver. I found it important to bring my kids sleep suits, sound machine and a few toys from their nursery to make them feel comfortable and at home in our hotel room. This helped keep us on our regular sleep schedule. We also opted for a suite style room so we could shut the bedroom door and stay up after they went to sleep.
Overall… simplifying is a worthy investment. Do what you can to make this process easy on yourself. Laugh along the way because many things won’t go as planned but it will definitely be an adventure!
What are you tips for traveling with babies? I would love to hear what has worked for you!