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10 Tips Once You Reach Your Destination!

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Toddlers.  They are old enough to for lots of opinions, interests, and SO many words (most of them hilarious), but still so little in so many ways.  They are still 100% dependant on parents, and just don’t have the patience to handle tough situations. And when you have twin toddlers, the stakes are just that much higher- try moving two toddlers mid- tantrum! 

Traveling with toddlers is such a great experience because of their ENDLESS enthusiasm and curiosity, but sometimes the logistics can get tricky.  Yes toddlers are resilient, but sometimes it takes a bit of work to get them to their ideal condition.  

Once you’ve planned your perfect trip, and survived your flight, road trip, or whatever, there are still a number of tricky situations when it comes to staying in a hotel, vacation rental, or even at a friend or relatives house with your twin toddlers.  These are our top tips to make the trip just a little bit easier.  

1. Make your kids a map

We like to make a special map for our twins for each trip.  It doesn’t have to be really accurate as a map, just give the basic flow of where we are going next.  For toddlers, it’s basically a visualization of the schedule. They love to follow along and talk about what’s coming next.  It’s a fun way to explain to your young child what’s coming next and get them excited ahead of time. We like to give them to our kids a week or so ahead of time so they understand what’s coming and start to get excited about little things we will be doing. 

Checking out the map a few days before a trip. They were VERY excited about the ATV ride!

2. Use kid’s air mattresses

Sleeping arrangements when you have TWO toddlers can be a bit tricky.  For toddlers, pack ‘n plays are getting to be a bit small (at least for my big boys), and can be hard to come by at times anyway.  Cosleeping is an option, but not a favorite for my family. Two kicking, wiggling, fighting-even-in-their-sleep toddlers in between my husband and me isn’t my idea of a vacation.  We’ve not been able to let them sleep in a bed alone because they sleep like maniacs and will CERTAINLY fall off the bed at least once. Though, sleeping in a regular bed with inflatable bumpers is a possibility.

Our option of choice is these fantastic kid’s air mattresses.  They are kid-sized so they don’t take up a lot of space in the suitcase, sturdy, and inexpensive.  They come in fun colors, and, even though we usually put a blanket or sheet over them, they have a nice soft finish, so a sheet is not absolutely necessary.  It gives them their own comfortable sleeping space, and they are close to the ground, so falling off is not a big deal.  

3. Pack carefully. 

Packing with twin toddlers means not really packing light.  But if you aren’t careful, you’ll end up packing 19 suitcases, and you won’t even be able to fit through the door at your hotel.  So really think through what you are bringing and if it’s necessary. 

Packing as light as we can with twin toddlers
Packing VERY carefully does make a difference, even if it still feels like you are bringing a ton

Packing tips:

  • If laundry facilities are available (and FAIRLY convenient), bring only about 3 days of clothing for everyone.  It seems drastic but if you wear neutral colors, and comfortable clothing and no one else will notice, and you’ll look great, and feel great not lugging around a ton of extra stuff.  Most toddlers probably prefer to wear their top 3 favorite outfits over and over forever.  
  • Pack layers.  Outer layers can easily be reused, and layers give more flexibility for temperature variation.
  • Use hotel toiletries for yourself (at least for shampoo, conditioner and soap) if you can, but bring toiletries for your twins.  Toddlers can have pretty sensitive skin, and baby products are not typically provided, so it’s probably worth the space to bring something you know won’t give them a rash. 
  • Use packing cubes to keep yourself organized and make it clear which stuff is whose
  • Buy diapers and other bulky items when you get there.  If you are flying, you’re probably paying $100 round trip per suitcase.  So if you are filling a suitcase with a low-cost item, like diapers, puddle-jumper life jackets, snacks, etc., don’t! If its something you CAN get at purchase at your destination, do that! It’s not worth the hassle or the cost to pack it. 
  • Borrow anything you can at your destination.  If you are visiting friends or family, perhaps you can borrow one or both car seats, air mattress or pack ‘n play, or any other specific items you will need for your trip.  If you are going somewhere you frequently visit, but you aren’t able to borrow many items, it might make sense to purchase some of these items to leave there (if possible).  
  • Just bring one or two books and only a few toys.  You can usually make do with whatever you find at your destination. Even empty water bottles or straws can provide entertainment for your toddlers.  Mine were obsessed with plastic spoons (AKA mini shovels) for awhile. Plus, you’ll probably be busier than normal and won’t need a lot. You probably don’t want to skip toys altogether since you’ll need your twins to be engaged for at least a few minutes each day to shower and get things packed up before you get out the door. 
  • If you are checking car seats, stuff some of the bulky, soft items in the car seat bag.  We’ve always gotten away throwing a favorite blanket, a toddler pillow, and a lovey in each car seat bag.  For a while, we were even putting a pack ‘n play foam mattress in there without any problems. It saves precious suitcase space, and provides extra padding for your car seat.   I think technically, it’s against the rules to put anything put a car seat in the bag, but I don’t think anyone checks unless they have reason to be suspicious.  

4. Stay on ‘Home’ time when heading East, adjust to local time when heading West

This applies only when time changes are minor, 3-4 hours or less. When heading east, kids will want to ‘sleep in’, because of the time difference. We promote that as much as we can with blackout curtains. They will be tempted to wake up right when the sun comes up, if they see it. It’s also kind of nice to have a bit more time in the evening to go out and do things with them. Keeping them on ‘home’ time also means avoiding the 4 or 5 am wake up once we get home. We find that they do adjust back a little bit, despite our best efforts, but we can usually keep them close to ‘home’ schedule.

We were forcing them to stay up so they wouldn’t wake up at 4 am the next day. TIme changes are tough!

My kids are early risers no matter the time zone, but when heading west, they are waking up so early, it’s definitely not even morning. For example, on the first day of our first trip to Hawaii, we were up at 4 am, but nothing at our resort even opened until 7 am. Not only does it kind of suck to get up when the clock says 4 am, it’s also just tough to manage. They’ll be wanting to eat dinner in mid-afternoon, and go to bed by 5 pm. Adjusting them just makes sense in that case.  Plus, you might get a couple of days of them sleeping in once you get home.

5. Think about skipping naps

Obviously for toddlers who reliably nap twice a day, or for 3 hours every day, maybe this isn’t an option.  But if your twins ever have trouble falling asleep at night, or struggle to fall asleep at nap time, vacationing is a great opportunity to just skip the nap, at least sometimes.  It’s even harder to fall asleep when you are in an unfamiliar place, so naps just might not happen even if you try (and try and try and try). And if they DO nap, bedtime might just be a nightmare- an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar sounds, and two toddlers who are NOT exhausted.  Not a recipe for a quick bedtime.  

Sometimes a nap IS required

If you can skip naps, your twins will be more able to power through when there are lots of fun things to do (as there probably are while on vacation).  In fact, they might not even notice they are tired until close to bedtime. You definitely have to have a solid bedtime plan, and start it early (cause once they realize how tired they are, they are going to be immediately ready to sleep). But once you start the bedtime routine, it’ll be SO easy to get them to sleep.  

This works so great for us because my kids were always terrible nappers. They are definitely tired by the end of the day, and sometimes a little cranky in the afternoon. But overall, we are all a lot happier when they ski be o I put them to bed a bit early (and they fall asleep almost instantly), and they often sleep in a bit late, and it’s AWESOME and amazing.

6. Keep Your Schedule Flexible

Toddlers are growing physically and mentally so much, so you never really know who you are going to get each morning when they wake up.  Make sure your schedule allows a slower day, if you twins wake up just tired or cranky or whatever. Or maybe they’ll wake up with more energy than expected so you need to find an outlet for them.  Whatever the reason, you’ll need to have a few options for each day and the state of mind to change your plan if the plan just isn’t going to work for your twins that day.  

Playing on the beach in Idaho- such a hit for them!

7. Stock your room with snacks and water (or other drinks)

Between being too excited to really eat during the day plus having their biological schedule a little bit messed up due to the time change, your twins may end up feeling hungry at odd hours.  When you are at the mercy of hotel restaurants, it’s smart to keep something around just in case. Also, the food on vacation may be a little bit different than at home, so having familiar snacks may help. Plus, you can save a LOT of money by skipping restaurants for snacks, and even for quick breakfasts sometimes.  And on a related note…

8. Pick a room with a mini-fridge

Not the pre-stocked kind either.  The kind you can actually use. You’ll want it for snacks, quick breakfasts, and milk.  If your toddlers are like mine, then milk is a necessity and you’ll need a lot of it. When you are buying for two milk-drinking toddlers, you aren’t going to want to just pick up the single-serving milk every time. That’ll get expensive fast! It’s easy to forget you are going to need a way to keep the milk, and other perishables, cold.

9. Keep some familiarity

Stick to your bedtime routine as much as possible.  Bring a few familiar snacks (anyone else have toddlers OBSESSED with Z bars?), your twins’ favorite lovey, and their favorite bedtime story.  Just a few familiar things will make your twins feel more at home.  

10. Take tons of pictures

Southern Utah. I love this picture and I’m so glad we captured this moment!

Ok this is kind of a given.  But take even more pictures than you thought you’d want. And label them! Even when you think you can tell your twins apart, you might just forget when you are looking back at old pictures. I don’t even want to say how many old pictures I have where I’m not 100% sure who is who.  

Toddlers are finally old enough that they can look back on vacation pictures and reminisce about all the fun things you’ve done together.  You’ll be surprised how far back they can remember. My twins clearly remember trips a year ago, and we love looking through vacation pictures together.  

Overall..

Traveling with twin toddlers, just like LIVING with twin toddlers, isn’t for the faint of heart.  But twin parents are made of a special kind of magic, and somehow, we just get it done! These vacation memories are memories you, and your twins, will cherish forever! And hopefully these tips will make your trip just that much more perfect.  

Tell us what worked for your family! 

When we first found out we were having twins, I wasn’t… thrilled.  A big part of the reason was that I had imagined that, though travel would slow down, it would still be possible with one baby.  With two- out of the question, right? Maybe not. Traveling with infant twins isn’t easy, and it probably isn’t for everyone. But for us, it’s well worth the trouble.   

Cons

  • The babies are too young to remember any of it
  • Babies need a lot of stuff
  • Being away from home isn’t as comfortable or easy as just staying home
  • More exposure to illnesses
  • Your travel pace will be much slower

Pros

  • Even if the babies don’t remember, we remember it, and there is nothing like watching your kids enjoy something new
  • Maybe they won’t exactly remember the trip, but they will have this great time to bond with family, and they will remember it in their cells
  • Mom and dad have probably been cooped up in the house for months and need a change of scenery
  • Getting away from home and forgetting a thing or two teach parents and babies how to be a little bit more flexible
  • Traveling at a slower pace, as is required when traveling with small children, can actually make your vacation more enjoyable and more relaxing.  

Travel, even with our infants,  was a no brainer for us for several reasons.  The biggest thing, in those early years, is the fact that we have no family nearby, so getting to know aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents means traveling.  But also, travel so is important to us for a million reasons, and I feel strongly that one of the most important gifts I can give my children is the gift of perspective that only comes with travel and that the shared experiences we have traveling and taking family vacations will bring us a lifetime of happy memories.

So once our boys were about four months old, and we finally felt a little bit less afraid (they were premature and just so small), we started traveling.  Keep reading for some of the things we learned. Also, see our separate posts on flying with infant twins and for travel with twin toddlers.

Tip 1.  Just jump in.  

The younger your babies are, the more likely they are to be flexible about where they sleep, where they eat, etc.  It can be intimidating thinking about taking on something else when you are already exhausted, but sometimes a little family trip can really refresh you.

My babies loved they snow!

Tip 2.  Enjoy the things you can do and don’t dwell on those things you can’t.

There are a million things we simply cannot do now that we are traveling with young twins.  But there are also a million things we can do and experience in a whole new way- watching our boys’ wide eyes when they see a colorful school of fish or feeling the sand on their toes for the first time, or even just getting to witness the first time they meet someone important to you.

first trip with our twins!
Baby’s first trip!

Tip 3: Cosleep if you are comfortable with it

We are not a co-sleeping family (at least not on purpose), but we did feel comfortable with it once they were about 5 months old.  When traveling by plane, co-sleeping made things easier because we didn’t have to bring much extra for them. They didn’t move around a ton at that age, so we felt fairly comfortable having them in the middle of a hotel bed.  The best arrangement for us was to have two queen beds, and each parent slept with one baby.

Tip 4:  Replicate your twins sleep environment as much as possible.  

Hopefully, you are lucky enough to have twins that can just sleep anywhere, whenever they get tired.  Mine have never been like that. And we’ve found anything we can do to replicate our sleep situation at home helps them get to sleep faster.  We always stuck to our normal sleep routines, and whenever we could, did blackout curtains, white noise, and a room with a door.

If our hotel could provide two pack n plays, we’d definitely take it.  But we didn’t find the availability of two to be reliable. We tried all kinds of travel bassinets, pack n plays, etc., and found that they were not for us- too expensive, too bulky, and not something that we could use for very long, and when buying two, we just didn’t find worthwhile.  

I guess they didn’t love this hotel room?
  • Blackout curtains are almost a guarantee at hotels, but if you are staying at a VRBO, or a friend or relatives’ house, there is a pretty low likelihood of having them.  Bring a cheap plastic shower curtain you can tape or pin up to block out some of the light
  • We use a white noise machine at home, but a tablet we’d be bringing anyway does the trick.  There are 8+ hour Youtube videos or white noise apps you can download.
  • Being able to stay in a 1+ bedroom suite, or VRBO is such a luxury when your kids are tiny.  Infants sleep a lot, and it’s so nice to be able to able to do your own thing while they sleep.  Plus, lots of kids have trouble falling asleep when they see their parents. However, that wasn’t always possible for us.  We could sometimes head out to a balcony with the door cracked, or just hang out quietly and in the dark until we were ready for bed.

Tip 5 Travel light

Pick up diapers and wipes at your destination, or order them ahead of time to be delivered, and bring only what you really need.  Your twin nursing pillow might be amazing but it’s not absolutely necessary for a week away- a few pillows are a decent substitute. As much as it feels like you are moving out every time you leave the house, you really can get by with much less than you expect.

I’d recommend

  • Clothes for a couple of days- plan on 2-3 outfits per day per child
  • A lightweight blanket
  • A heavier blanket for them to lie down on
  • Swaddle if you are using them
  • One lovey per child
  • Extra pacifiers and clips
  • If you bottle-feed, enough to last you through the night, plus a bottle brush.  
  • Your baby carrier/s of choice
  • A couple of small toys/teethers
  • Baby butt cream of choice.  
  • Any medicine you might need- Baby Tylenol or Motrin, gas drops, etc.
  • Baby lotion and soap
  • Some kind of a lightweight stroller (maybe just a single)

Tip 6:  Don’t forget about baths

Otteroos are awesome!

Baths on vacation are something that is easy to forget about.  You can certain opt to just do a sponge bath or attempt to hold your slippery infants one at a time in the shower.  We tried the slippery shower situation once- it was terrifying to me. My go-to solution was Otteroos. They definitely look strange and not everyone is comfortable with them, but they do comply with US safety standards.  As long as you are in the room and watching them, I feel that they are perfectly safe. Other pluses- they are inflatable and fold up really small, and then allow you to give your infant an enjoyable bath in any bathtub. Plus my kids LOVED them

Tip 7: If you are breastfeeding, learn how to breastfeed in your carrier.  

When we are at home, I tandem nursed. But in public- no thank you.  I have to be pretty much topless and looking like a milking cow. No one wants to see that. And if you try to sit down to nurse individually, you’ll end up doing nothing else.  Nursing in the carrier meant we could carry on with our day instead of planning around our nursing breaks.

Though infants generally are pretty ok with being in a carrier or a stroller, we found it was best to plan on giving them some time to get out and wiggle around every few hours.  Maybe you stop back at your hotel and let them do some tummy time on the bed. Maybe you put a blanket in the grass at a park so they can look at the leaves. Whatever it is, make a plan because it can be difficult to find somewhere you feel comfortable putting your twins down and letting them touch things.  

Tip 8:  Babywear, but also maybe bring a stroller?  

Babywearing was a lifesaver for travel for us.  It’s so convenient, no stopping to get the baby whatever they need, and no limitations to where you can go because of a huge stroller.  

Cheap but functional single stroller

But some babies don’t love it, and some parents don’t love it.  And some babies and parents get hot in there and just want a break after babywearing all day, or maybe your babies can nap in their stroller and you can eat a meal without two babies touching you for once.   Also, when you have two, at least unless you are a superhero mom, you kinda need two adults when you are babywearing. I never really got the wearing two at a time thing down. I don’t know how you awesome mamas do it.  Anyway, having a stroller can really help.

We love our MacLaren lightweight double stroller because it’s fully reclinable, has a nice big sunshade, and it is easy to fold up.  Another option we only came up with accidentally was to just bring or buy a single, super cheap (like $10) umbrella stroller.  I used it when we tagged along on my husband’s work trip, so I was alone sometimes during the day. When you usually are pushing around a massive double stroller, even a super cheapo single feels GLORIOUS.   I was totally comfortable and could get around really easily with just the single stroller, and my bigger twin was pretty happy to have that extra breeze in the stroller.

Tip 9. Don’t forget, you are all on vacation.  

While you probably don’t want to let your regular schedule go out the window completely, accept that your babies are not going to be eager to nap with all the excitement.  They may skip a few naps, or at least delay them. They may not eat as well, and they may want to try some new, fun, but less than healthy foods, just like you.

Tip 10. Take tons of pictures.

Really, has anyone ever wished they had taken fewer pictures? And little video clips- those are even better. They change so fast at this age, and you’ll be capturing a ‘first’ almost every time you take a photo

Matching Daddy at their first wedding!

As tricky as travel with your twin infants may seem, it is doable with if you just take it easy on yourself.  And nothing beats these early memories. I will never forget the way they looked in their baby suits for their first wedding, or the strange pride I felt seeing them happy and thriving in outside of their ‘normal’ environment in our sunny hotel room.  You can do this!

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