Annie and I in Sicily.
That trip was a cruise, which is definitely the easiest way to travel with multiple children. If you just get on a boat and go! It was also the cheapest option for a one-week holiday by far, for us. An all inclusive deal cost the same as most flights!
However, if you do need to fly, below is an article about how to make it easy on yourself.
Flying with babies, especially two, is no easy feat. But it does not have to be hellish, or even difficult, if properly planned and executed
By following my twenty top tips, I reckon you should find most of the stress can be removed.
I flew with our twin babies when they were just under 7 months, 10 months, 14 months, 18 months, 20 months, 2 and a half, 2 and 3/4s and next week, when they are just over 3.
This is an in-depth article! I suggest you skim the emboldened points, and read the elaboration if the point is relevant to you and you are short on time
1) I can say that, it gets easier as they age.
Although a difficult age is when they are 14-18 months, they are still on your lap, quite heavy, and not yet really able to understand why they can’t crawl or toddle down the aisle during take-off.
That said, and I doubt that I should be saying this a few days before a flight, I have never had a hellish experience. They have ALWAYS surpassed my expectations of behaviour. I can’t remember a flight where nearby passengers have said after the flight ‘I was so nervous when I saw you lot board, but I can’t believe how good they were!’. Honestly. But I must also state, that my friends have ridiculed my military-style preparation.
2) Precise planning is key.
I am ridiculed by my partner for my usual lack of planning, but if it involves a flight, I have a list, printed out, of what needs to be taken.
I get three highlighters, green is for what can be packed as soon as can, clothes, nappies etc. Orange is for day before, last washing, spare bottles etc and pink is for the morning of flight, last min items like dummies, bottles of water. milk, food etc.
3) My kids ate ‘solids’ from 4.5 months. So I feel it is easier if they can chew on a biscuit or at least something to make the flight pass more smoothly. A friend of mine advised me to take loads of food, it keeps them entertained!
Be aware that something to do with flying seems to cause extra bloating. If I eat something I am sensitive too, like caffeine, wheat or alcohol, the effects are increased in the air. My son has gluten intolerance. Once he had a lot of breadsticks, biscuits etc and was in pain all night.
4) Breastfeed, if you do/can.
I breastfed, on the flight. until they were 14 months. And although this is not easy and if I had twins again, I don’t know if I could do that again, it really helps on the plane. I was always able to feed discreetly, one at a time, as I was more comfy with that, I wore my breastfeeding top, and only the passenger next to me really noticed.
5) With breastfed multiples at least, pacifiers are handy.
Take a few if still at sterilising stage. If one falls on a Ryan Air plane floor, you can pop that in a separate place to wash when home. We hadn’t discovered dummy-strings by then, so we went through all our dummies on those flights!
My twins used pacifiers from about 10 months of age, although my son decided during that 10 month old flight, that he would take a pacifier no more. My daughter still has one when tired (I know, I know, I have tried to give it up). It is handy to have one at least that will take a pacifier and/ or bottle if you are breastfeeding twins.
6) Whilst the babies are still on your lap, if you are travelling with multiples, you need one adult per baby.
This can be any family member or dutiful friend Or you can book an air-craft attendant (air hostess) however, I would pay for the flight of whichever friend or family member had my kid on the lap. If you can get a couple of people, even better, as then you can go to the toilet or have a coffee if needed
My friend who traveled alone with a baby had the air hostess hold it whilst she went to the toilet. With twins though we never had a problem handling them whilst we went. I think more tricky for men, but we both still managed!
6.5) You need to note however, due to aircraft regulations, only one baby per row.
This means with Ryan Air you are best to book speedy boarding. Or with others pre-book your seats either side of the aisle. You can book seats with Ryan Air, but at time of writing speedy boarding is cheaper and why not get the hand baggage space and avoid the long queues too? Personal preference though
My first flight, I had expressed milk for my son to have from a bottle. Then he had a pacifier. He was happy with this, and him and my partner had a nice easy flight.
I had heard from a friend that she fed her son for the ENTIRE two-hour flight. She was sore, but it kept him from screaming. So when my daughter had finished one-side, I fed her from the other side, as the flights was still ascending. I latched her on too early, we were taxi-ing back. I would recommending waiting til actual take off before feeding.
I usually fed the twins one side each, so this meant she got a double feed, which meant, she vomited. Luckily, we had secured an entire row to ourselves, which meant that the seat next to me was vacant. Thankfully, as that seat got the brunt of the vomit. To me, fresh breast-milk did not really smell like other vomit, so the plane did not smell like when someone is travel-sick. But I was sitting on paper towels and quite sticky for the remainder of the journey.
Which brings me on to my next two tips,
7) Wear black and teething bling.
Or a dark colour. And take spare clothes for EVERYONE! I had spare clothes that flight, but did not have time to change.
Also, I found this stuff called Teething Bling. When I was changing my babies’ nappies, they wanted to chew on something. The only thing I had handy always was my hair clip, so I gave them this. It kept them still but was not hygienic or very safe!
Teething bling are necklaces and or bracelets, designed for chewing on, that are BPA free and dishwasher safe. I found them invaluable for flying and changing as they are always on you. Not stuck in the overhead locker for take-off.
Make sure you take a small bag for under the seat in front. Packed with everything else you may need for take-off. Those BMI baby flights had 10 min boarding to take-off times, so we had no time to get stuff out the overhead locker.
8) Ask at check-in that if the flight isn’t full, for a whole row, if possible.
If just one baby, ask for three seats to yourself, if flight isn’t full. Especially if you already paid extra for pre-bookable seats. Even if you have pre-booked seats, they may be able to move you.
Near the back is usually most free, as near the toilets, and you can be first off (well, as soon as you have sorted yourself out!). We got lucky as we always flew from Malta to UK with BMI Baby, one of the check-in ladies was a twin, and had the utmost sympathy with us. She told us always to ask for her and she would do her best to get us a row to ourselves
9) Pack hand luggage in sections.
This is an actual military tip When I was 18 and travelling in South America, our leader a former military leader told us to pack our rucksack with a place for everything. As in, when we arrived to set up camp in the dark, or left quickly in the morning, we knew where our pen knife or flashlight should be, and what was missing with a quick scan.
If you have 2 or four hand luggage items, pack the stuff you don’t necessarily need in one bag, put that up out of the way. Pack all your toys, drink, passports etc, in sections where you can quickly scan to check, before disembarking so you are sure you have everything. Obviously try to look under seats, but this is tricky with babies on your lap/ in your arms.
I would refrain from putting things in the seat pockets, as I have left stuff there. My best friend left our passports, I left my liquids, as you get distracted easily with kids. Try to put everything back in the bag when you are not using it.
Pack bags that can fit under the seat in front, with lots of pockets and zips. Try not to over-pack, so that stuff doesn’t fall out.
10) Pack extra everything!
I found I needed more nappies, more food, more dummies, more drinks, than in a usual 2-3 hour period. I mean, don’t go shopping especially for the flight, but pack your usual spares, and a spare-spare, in hand luggage. Prepare for the worst, rather than best case scenario.
11) Take slings.
We had a pouch sling each, which contain no metal. They are one shoulder, so not as comfy as Baby Bjorn-type slings, but you can keep the baby attached to you as you go through the scanners.
I checked in the pushchair(s) at check in, when they were small enough to be carried. (Depends on size/ weight, my babies were/ are small, so I put them in baby bjorns till 14 months ish. Some bigger babies maybe 10 months is enough). Then I put them in the pouch until security was passed. Then after security we changed their nappies, went to the toilet ourselves, maybe fed them, then put them in baby bjorns.
Baby bjorns should be hands free, where as pouches are not. really. Which is better than carrying them without slings when getting on off the plane and spreads the weight load when walking to security on arrival.
12) Pushchairs. I read that if going abroad, take 2 single pushchairs for twins as a side by side double will not fit on foreign pavements. We live ‘abroad’ with a side by side pushchair.
But when going to UK we often took two singles. This is, as long as you will always be two people, you can split the weight and be more independent. We went to a festival when the twins were 14 months. (Maybe I should write an article about that alone!) Two pushchairs was great for that.
13) Change nappies before boarding.
Even if they poo and you need to change it again after takeoff. If they don’t poo, at least you have avoided the hassle. They may fall asleep during takeoff due to the bumpiness, then you don’t have to wake them or leave them v wet.
14) CUT THEIR NAILS THE NIGHT BEFORE!!!
This is one law I still abide by. My mother thought this was overkill, but if you have 20 tiny nails clawing at you whilst they are on your laps, even if you abide by all the other points, you will have an unpleasant flight.
15) The bag of Tricks.
I hide away a few books, toys a few weeks before the flight, familiar ones I know they will like, but that will be a partial surprise when re-united on the plane. Lots of little things that you don’t care so much about, not so little they will be lost under seats, but a variety of soft toys, board, cloth (if small) or paper books, colouring crayons, playdoh (if older and you want slight revenge on certain budget airlines!) playdoh ‘tools and snacks.
I used to pack their snacks in reused party bags, for that extra element of excitement. Tip: A fruit bar is better than raisins, that go everywhere. Think about stuff like that when packing snacks.
16) When older, 3+ ish, pack their own ‘Bag of tricks’.
I have done this for a few days time. But they are already excited about it. It spreads the hand luggage! From 2+ they have their own seats, and their own handbag allowance. So maybe from then you could take advantage of this!
Pack back-packs for everyone, so you can remain hands-free!
Speak to them before boarding about how they MUST hold hands until on the plane. I would not take a pushchair to the plane if alone, as it involves letting go of the childrens’ hands. Check it in or get assistance with it. Remember they will not be able to hear you when outside the plane. So make clear to them the severity of holding hands until on board.
17) Ipads/ Ipods anything with games or films.
This can be useful any age from 9-10 months, depending on the child. My son from that age sat and watched toy story so intently, he didn’t even notice we had dis-embarked the plane, put him in the pushchair, met my mum and put him in her car! Honestly. He only looked confused when we pulled up at her house. He was about 18 months.
My son is a delightful flight companion. He loves being on a plane. I only break-out activities for him because I feel sorry for him after a while. He is usually happy just looking around the plane and reading the safety card(!) My daughter is a different kettle-of-fish. Before take-off she has often eaten a bit of everything and peaked at every activity. She is so active and restless though, she usually falls asleep at take off. A dummy or a water bottle for them to suck on is great to prevent ear popping. My son cried only when he was 10 months at landing as it appeared to hurt his ears. A sweet or raisins may help. I never gave them sweets though, just something that involved sucking on.
18) If flying alone with 2+ children, try and co-ordinate a flight with a friend, or get help at both airports from family/ friends, or ask for special assistance at check in.
This is my plan as I will be taking the return flight on my own on my trip next week. My mum will help me to the airport check-in, I will ask there for assistance, and if not will check my buggy in. I hope we get assistance though, as the buggy helps to quickly get two 3 year olds in the right direction at the same time without dawdling or distractions
If you need to, ask someone (if they are travelling as two adults) to push your baggage trolley out to the arrivals for you. Ask people to hold your baby on the plane, while you put luggage overhead, or at security when you have to remove shoes, belts etc.
A friend told me of a really flustered man at Heathrow (really busy airport) who was travelling alone with a small baby. He needed to collapse his pushchair and remove all the usuals, and the lady behind offered to hold his baby. He got all his belongings back at the other side, tasted the liquids, shoes on etc and relieved off he went. ‘Excuse me sir, you forgot your baby!’ the lady shouted. Sounds far-fetched but I can see it happening. At any age that has been the worst part of any flight for me. When they are toddlers especially when flying alone, that but is very difficult.
I flew home alone with a friend and her same aged daughter. Security was very difficult but the flight was easier, 3 kids between 2 adults, one of us could go to the toilet, and during the flight all three kids sat together watching Dora The Explorer, even another friend on the flight’s kid joined, and we three mums chilled and chatted.
I am a nervous flyer, the more I chat the more relaxed I feel. I also take rescue remedy during take-off as that is my worst bit.
19) Tip for you. Travel light.
I took barely any clothes for myself, enough to keep clean, but no straighteners, limited toiletries and lots of beads! Different necklaces can distract from the same outfits, and are light. It is a sad fact, but the twins’ essentials take up so much of the case. I packed them first, then my stuff had to be squashed in. Minimal packing is essential, where possible!
20) Call ahead if you are visiting friends/ family and ask them to kindly buy in or if you can borrow any clothes, nappies etc.
I think my family could have despaired of this, no one said anything, most are usually happy to help, so try to balance it so you are not filling your case with bulky items you can borrow.
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