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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!