Friday, August 8, 2014

How Do You Do It | Part 3: Flying With Twins Edition

Recently I’ve been approached by a number of people asking the question, “what tips do you have for flying with kids?!”. There is something about having booked over 100 hours of airtime with twin infants/toddlers that has caused other parents to reach out. 

As you can see, I have titled this post, “Flying with Twins” and not “How To Fly with Twins”. There is no magic formula (as our flight with screaming twins from Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur would prove) but there are certainly lots of tricks (“Illusions Michael!) that are valuable to have up your sleeve. All of these tips are for at least 20 hours of airtime with the likelihood of at least 48 hours of travel time, so do math or something to make it work for your needs. Some of these tips are twins specific (such as, how do I go to the bathroom with twin babies?), but most can be applied to one baby. For those of you with a toddler and a newborn… ummmm I don’t know ask my sister. 

Even if these tips in no way apply to you, scroll to the bottom for a little “flying advice” that I try to apply to all areas of my life. 

Hold on tight, we’re in for a wild ride. 

1. Going through security
a) Say a prayer - “Ohhhhhh Good Lord help us”
b) Keep baby in a carrier (we use Ergo) while putting luggage on the belt line, this keeps your hands free.
c) Think ahead while packing. Put all liquids and electronics together so that you can *quickly and easily take them out at this time.
d) Don’t put baby down, chances are you’ll get yelled at by security, trust me.
e) Some security agents will ask you to put ergo on belt - just ask what they would like from you.
f) Security agents may have to pat you down and test hands for chemicals if bringing liquid milk/formula through security. However, some airports were not as thorough as others and didn’t even ask us to take the milk out of our bag (seriously). 
g) Just don’t wear anything metal. Just, don’t. And wear the easiest shoes on earth - AKA: Toms (or Bobs, if you’re like me) As Michael Scott says, “KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid”. 
h) Applaud your travel companion for keeping their cool during a potentially stressful time.
*Relative to yourself, not the businessman behind you who is traveling alone with only a briefcase that is probably not full of diapers and crackers. He probably is carrying books. Books are these things that have paper and words. I am told I will get to read these again someday.

2. In the airport
a) Use the Ergo for the babes and the stroller for stuff. It is safer to have the babies attached to you, and it frees you up to use your hands for other things. It also keeps your backpacks/carry-ons all in one place, so all you really need to carry are the babies. However, when the babies were 14 months we didn’t travel with a stroller and it was easier to go through security and board the plane. 
b) Get to your gate, find your spot, and hunker down.
c) Use your resources to make a safe and confined play area. We moved chairs around. We used our bodies and luggage as blockades. We would find two empty rows of seats that were facing each other with one end up against a wall so only one of us acted as a blockade and the other fetched toys, changed diapers, or distributed snacks.
d) Napkins and straws are fun and free. 
e) Take turns with your spouse going on walks with your respective twin while the other guards the luggage and tries in vain to make the airport’s free wifi work. Why does it never work?!
f) In desperate moments, I have used the bathroom with child in Ergo tow. Sure, maybe that's TMI, but just saying, it can be done, and it was surprisingly easily. 
g) Priority seating - be ready for it and take advantage of it. It takes us a good 5 minutes to truly get situated once we're at our seats. It is much easier to do when the Spring Breakers aren’t trying to shove past you.
h) Tell your travel companion how much they mean to you and give them a hug despite the two bodies hanging off each of your fronts, trying to grab your hair. Because you probably won’t talk to each other for the next 14 hours. Group hug!!

What to pack when flying with 6 month old twins
Bottles, formula, & squeeze pureed foods. We brought two bottles per baby. They were eating about every 4 hours at that point and we would rather have the flight crew wash four bottles every eight hours than two bottles every four hours. For their sanity, and our own. If you're nursing - yes, all the power to you. 100%.
We brought toys, but didn’t really use any. Maybe a book or a teddy.
I brought 3 extra PJs per baby, but I should have brought more. At 6 months they’re still puking and spitting up. It’s harder to control all of that on a plane which makes for more mess. Now, I would probably bring 5 extra PJs per baby.
Note on PJs - zip-up PJs are easier in small airplane bathrooms than button up PJs. 
I can’t remember the exact number, but we brought around 30 per baby. Yeah, like sixty- some diapers. It might’ve been too many, but my sister ran out of diapers on a plane once and it lead to my nephew being diapered with a towel and headphones. 

What to pack when flying with 14-16 month old twins
Large crackers (so you don’t have to hand them little crackers every five seconds), individual milks (some airports we went to didn’t have milk, so we used individual servings of milk that didn’t need to be refrigerated), dried fruits, squeeze pureed foods.
Straw drop, fluffy ball box, old remote controls with batteries removed, airplane remote controls (the flight crew learned to not reply to our “calls”), iPad apps, books, other toys with soft music. 
4 extra PJs per baby. Chances are they will pee through their diaper. Chances are that it will be all over you.
20 diapers per baby. 

a) Bassinets - amazingly helpful tool. Only thing to keep in mind is that the flight crew will have you pick up your baby during turbulence, which can wake the baby up. Sometimes I just kept my twin in the Ergo if there was frequent turbulence. 
b) Benadryl - We had a couple doctor friends give us the “OK” on this. We use it when it is their nap time and they are having a difficult time falling asleep on their own. It is super helpful. We keep a bottle of Benadryl and a medicine dropper in a plastic baggy at the front of my backpack. 
c) Important note on Benadryl - On some babies, it can have the opposite effect and make them hyper. Make sure to test it out before your flight, or else you may have an extra crazy kiddo on your hands. 
d) The flight crew will wash your dirty bottles with boiling hot water if you ask them to. 
e) Depending on your airline, usually they will not let you keep your baby in an Ergo during take off and landing. So, don’t get on the plane, get all situated, and have your baby fall asleep in the Ergo before take off, only to find out that you have to take your perfect sleeping baby out of the Ergo and strap them into a seatbelt causing them to become a screaming monster. 
f) Depending on the aircraft and where you are sitting, you may not be able to sit in the same row as your partner when you have two lap infants. This is because most rows only have one extra oxygen mask. Be prepared to be separated from your partner. The one area we’ve had an exception with this is the first row of four seats by the separating wall. Often times we will be seated across a row from each other or one row in front of the other. 
g) My favorite international airlines that we’ve flown with: Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
h) My least favorite international airline that we’ve flown with: American Airlines.
i) Dan would like to it be stated that he liked Malaysian Airlines, while I felt impartial. 
j) Going to the bathroom can be a tricky thing to master with the ratio of babies to adults being 1:1. If you have extra seats by you, and your baby is big enough to sit up, set them in an empty seat by your seated partner while you set the new World Record in the 50 Yard Dash: Airplane Bathroom Category. If there are no extra seats or Dan is dealing with a particularly disastrous baby, I have asked the flight crew to hold my twin while I use the bathroom. The flight crew is thrilled to be helping a passenger through holding an adorable baby instead of pouring another glass of water and the baby is thrilled to be with a new face, a face that has on make up, good smelling breath, and isn’t sleep deprived. If you are using the bassinets on the plane, excellent. You are free to pee at your leisure. 
k) Ya know what? Sometimes our babies have cried on the plane. I know, crazy! Right?! And sometimes when they are crying, we let them. *collective gasp* I believe that at times it is better to have 10 minutes of nearly unbearable shrieking that leads to sleep and 3-5 hours of silence. Passengers, flight crew, and your own soul will question your sanity, but stay strong. You’re about to watch six old episodes of Friends. 
l) I tend to try to keep the babies awake during take off for two reasons. First, because of pressure changes in the cabin which can lead to ear troubles. I like to give them a bottle to help with that. (but also, sometimes they've fallen asleep for take off and everything was fine). Second, if the airline won't let you keep the baby in the Ergo, it can be uncomfortable for them to fall asleep with the seatbelt on. (but not always).

Pack for Yourself - Channel Bear Grylls
a) Once again I say it, and again I say… “Keep It Simple Stupid” You have 60 diapers in your backpack! Good luck fitting your toiletries bag, candies, neck pillow, and book in the only available tiny slot, initially intended for pencils. 
b) If at all possible, bring a device that is a music player, book, camera, and gamer all in one. (Not that you will get to do all, or any, of these things). Trust me when I say, at no point on this journey will you think, "awe geez I'm bored. I wish I had something to do"
c) Bring your headphones, keep them easily in your pocket. 
d) Bring earplugs. Also keep them close at hand. 
e) I brought two changes of clothes. Roll them up tight and stuff them in a ziploc bag so they don’t get all undone.
f) A small tooth brush & toothpaste & small deodorant - so your partner will want to share a taxi with you when you land. Heck, so you will want to share a taxi with you. 

What's the Most Important Thing?
This is a question Dan and I ask each other all the time. I try to keep in mind on a long journey with two babies on a plane that getting frustrated, anxious, or annoyed will definitely not help me, my kids, or the people around me. We believe that anyone can maintain joy and righteousness in all situations. Difficult circumstances do not determine whether or not I am collected, happy, and content.  The state of my heart affects my attitude and how I affect others. As Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  It is not by my own strength that I do this, but thankfully there is a loving God who is us our strength, our defender, and our sustainer. This sounds like a pretty lofty goal, but it is something that we as a family strive for every day.

Picture Time
Here are some pictures from our last journey overseas at the 14-16 month age. I honestly don't think I took any pictures when they were 6 months on the plane! Also, you will notice that the kids look perfect and happy in all of these pictures. That is because when they are screaming bloody murder I don't think to take out my phone and snap a quick pic.

Taking a walk with Elijah Bean.

A great example of using our resources - play pen!

Fuzzy ball box! Eleanor could do this for hours.

Playing with the iPad.

Ahhhh sweet silence.

My cuddle bug.

The oh so excellent straw drop toy.

It is seriously wonderful.

We had to bring both carseats. Good thing we are a CrossFit family. 

A great cabin crew makes my heart soar. 


  1. Another fantastic blog! Kept me laughing and feeling like I had been there with you...but I wasn't! Thanks for all you are doing to raise those two sweeties. What great team work!
    How do you make the straw drop toy?

    Keep looking is where your help comes from. Thanks for the great pictures, too.

    1. Thank you so much! For the straw drop I used a large spice container that had holes already the size of the straws, then I cute the straws into thirds. I've also seen people use a jar with a plastic top and then drill holes in the top of the lid!