Flying with twins has its challenges (MANY many challenges). But it’s certainly not impossible! In fact, we actually do enjoy traveling with our twins! And we think you will learn to love it as well. But there are a few things we’ve learned along the way we’d like to share with you. We’re hoping you can avoid making some of the many mistakes we made, and make sure your first trip, or 16th trip, goes smoothly with your twins!
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When to start traveling
How early your twins start traveling is a decision you and your doctor will have to make. Your twins can likely begin to travel by car right away, if you are up for it. However, you might find that you don’t get a lot of driving done between all the stops to feed, change, and burp, and generally keep your twins happy. So you’ll want to prepare yourself for a slow pace, or keep road trips pretty short for the first few months.
For air travel, pediatricians generally recommend you wait 4-6 weeks before you begin air travel, or longer if your twins were premature or have any other health concerns. Ultimately it’ll be up to you and your doctor to decide when the right time is to fly.
My twins were ‘late preterm’, which is between 34-37 weeks, and had no major health issues. However, because they were small, and because we were sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, we were not ready to start traveling by air until they were about 5 months old.
Whenever you decide to start, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared for travel with your twins. Here are our tips for making sure travel with your twins is as easy as it can be.
1. Keep the sleep schedule in mind
When traveling with twin infants or toddlers, you’ll want to be mindful of their sleep schedule. When you have two, keeping everyone on a sleep schedule is SO important. But it can be SO tough when traveling.
Some babies fall asleep the second the plane takes off, and snooze away the flight. However, there are a LOT of babies that don’t, mine included. For my twins, flights are really stimulating and it is difficult for them to fall asleep at all, even on long flights. In fact, on one flight, flight attendants commented that, even though it was late, NONE of the little guys on the flight were sleeping. Every baby was awake.
We were shocked when our 5-month-old twins didn’t fall asleep on their first flight. It was about 6 hours long, and we landed LONG after their normal bedtime, but they basically didn’t sleep at all.
So what do you do? Well certainly don’t panic. But do think about which sleeps are ok to adjust for your twins, and which are not. For example, we were ok to shift naps away, or skip them, and could recover. But we had a really hard time if our twins (and ourselves!) didn’t get enough nighttime sleep.
Travel days can be long, so it’s not unusual that you’ll HAVE to give up some sleep and either get up earlier than normal, or go to bed later than normal.
So, even while traveling, we made sure the twins were settled, and in bed at their normal bedtime. But we’d allow ourselves to have more flexibility during the day.
2. Choose the right flights
Pick flights during their awake times- at least when they are little. This may seem counterintuitive, but it really works. Here’s why: as we just discussed, lots of little guys cannot fall asleep on the plane. So if you are in a new environment when your twins are already overtired, and probably overstressed, it can be a disaster, especially when you have two! It’s much easier to keep them entertained during their normal playtime.
For twin toddlers, we found that keeping them trapped in a seat for hours can be TOUGH, but a toddler (or two) having an overtired, overstimulated meltdown is tougher.
For my twins, mornings are usually the happiest time of day. When taking longer flights, we’d pick daytime and try to avoid flying during their normal nighttime sleep.
3. Choose the Right Seats
When choosing your seating arrangement on the flight, there are a lot of different scenarios.
If your twins are under the age of 2, you are generally allowed to hold them on your lap and avoid paying for a ticket for them on domestic flights. Should you? Well, that really depends.
The first thing to note is that the FAA strongly encourages you to put your child in a car seat while flying, as that is the safest place for them to be. And putting your twins in a car seat also means purchasing them their own seat.
However, tickets are expensive, and reduced ticket prices for children are very rare for domestic flights (but sometimes free or reduced costs tickets are available on international flights). And flying with lap infants can save a lot of money. But for longer flights, or with babies over about 1 year old, we don’t think it’s worth the cost savings. After a few hours, both parents and twins will get tired of sharing the same tiny space. And for wiggly toddlers, one shared seat is definitely not enough space to move around.
Two adults, with both twins as lap babies
Generally, you can only have one lap infant per row, so, unfortunately, you won’t be able to sit together. For this scenario, we prefer to sit with one adult right in front of the other, and in the aisle seat. Babies need frequent diaper changes, and I found myself getting up to walk around pretty often while flying with babies. Plus, my husband and I liked to be able to communicate, and pass babies and gear back and forth as needed throughout the flight.
Our favorite twin baby arrangement- 3 seats for 2 adults and two babies
The seating arrangement that worked best for us when our twins were babies was to buy three seats for the four of us so that we took the entire row on one side (see below).
We loved it because we had that small space all to ourselves. It was (somewhat) easy to pass the babies around as needed, and we had control of the coveted window seat. Well- not so much the window seat, but the pull-down shade that both babies loved to play with. We also didn’t have to ask a stranger to move for diaper changes or walking the babies around the plane.
Two adults, twins in their own seats
Once your twins hit that 2-year mark, you’ll need to purchase a seat for them. Even if they are under 2 years old, having a seat for everyone makes flights a bit more comfortable for everyone.
Since most domestic flights have 2 or 3 seats on each row, you’ll end up not sitting RIGHT together. We prefer to sit with one adult and one child directly in front of the other child and adult. We find that it’s easier to communicate, rather than trying to shout across the aisle.
If your twins are young babies, I’d pick the center and aisle seat since you’ll likely be getting up a LOT to change diapers and walk to keep the baby happy.
But for older babies, toddlers, and kids, we prefer the window and center seat. My twins learned that the window seat was the best VERY early on. If we picked the center and aisle seat, my twins would be desperately climbing into a stranger’s lap to get to that window- no one wants that!
Traveling alone with twins/One adult and twins
Traveling alone with twins is not for the faint of heart. And it can take a fair bit of preparation.
The first thing you need to know is that you cannot have two lap infants with just one adult. So you will need to purchase a seat for at least one of your twins. Of course, if they are over the age of 2, you’ll need to purchase a seat for both.
2 seats for 3 (twins and one adult)
If you do end up choosing to purchase 2 seats for the 3 of you (so one lap infant with you, and one infant in his/her own seat), we recommend the center and aisle seat. That way, you’ll have easy access to get up to bounce a baby in the aisle, or take them to the restroom for diaper changes. If you CAN, we’d also definitely recommend bringing a car seat with you. It can be tough to put a baby in the airplane seat alone- the seat just isn’t designed for someone that small.
3 seats for the 3 of you
The other option is to have 3 seats for the 3 of you. In that case, I’d check with the airline to make sure the plane you’ll be on has at least 3 seats in a row. And make sure that you can select your seats, and do it asap. Then I’d check again, double check seat guru, confirm as your flight dates get closer, and reconfirm the day before. I would not want to fly with 1 of my young children not right next to me. For me, any other seating arrangement would be unacceptable.
Still trying to figure out exactly how to get your twins through the airport and onto the plane alone? The logistics are complicated for sure. Babywearing both babies plus all their gear all the way through the airport is not going to be comfortable. However, bringing baby carriers is not a bad idea. Also, if you are bringing a car seat, or two for the flight, make sure you have an easy way to get them around. For example, click them into your stroller for the airport. Then bring a luggage cart, like this, that you can strap them to as you board the plane.
Use a stroller to get through the airport. Even if they can walk, it’s so much easier to keep track of them when they are in the stroller. But be prepared to take them out as you go through security. However, we’ve gotten lucky a number of times and been able to leave them in and push them through. You never know. In the case that you do need to take them out, get everything else on the scanner first, and free your hands. If your twins are old enough to walk, have one or both walk through while holding your hands. Otherwise, carry them through together- it’s not far so you can handle it!
Getting on the plane
Once it’s time to get on the plane, you’ll have to give up your stroller. This is when baby carriers (yes 2 of them!) can come in REALLY handy. I know my twins tend to fall asleep either right before we board, or right before we deplane. Once they are past the infant stage, carrying two sleeping babies, or toddlers is next to impossible. But, with the help of baby carriers, you can get one carefully strapped to your back, then either carry in your arms or use a second carrier to assist.
For more tips on how to get out of the house with twins, check out my post here.
4. Babywear if possible
Making your way through the airport with twins, and all the gear you need for them is tricky, to say the least. And you’ll want your hands free to find your ID, phone, wallet, or whatever else you might need.
If you have two adults, and twins that will handle it, we 100% recommend babywearing. I typically always travel with my husband, so we each take a baby. It makes the whole process easier, from check-in to baggage claim, so much easier. Plus, we can avoid the whole stroller shuffle while going through security and boarding the plane. In fact, you can leave your babies in the carriers the whole time as you go through security!
5. OR Use a great double stroller
If your twins are too big for baby carriers or just don’t like it (or maybe YOU don’t like it), then you’ll want a great double stroller.
You’ll want a stroller that folds up easily, with one hand, since you’ll need to get in and out of it quickly to go through security and to gate check it as you board the plane. And one that folds up small enough to fit in a rental car, or whatever car you’ll be carrying it in, truly lightweight, and maneuverable for navigating busy airports.
Read our post on the best lightweight double strollers here!
Side Note: if you are flying on American Airlines, they have a very strict stroller policy and allow only strollers under 20lbs to be gate-checked. Bigger strollers will need to be checked at the ticket counter. Be prepared for this as it can REALLY mess with your plans!
6. Check all luggage
You are probably going to end up with a LOT of luggage. Traveling with twins means you’re just not going to travel as light as you did before kids. But even if you managed to fit EVERYTHING in a carry-on-sized bag, check it! Absolutely check it! The only things you want to bring on the plane are your perfectly packed carry-on bag (we’ll discuss that later), and your twins!
For our tips on packing light, even with younger kids, read our post here.
Yes it costs extra, and that’s annoying, but trust us, you’ll have your hands full just with just your twins. Trying to also drag a big suitcase everywhere you go is just too much! (And if you don’t like paying for checking your bags, consider opening up one of these credit cards that will get you free checked bags. Often, everyone on your reservation will also get free checked bags. Just check the annual fee against the benefits you’ll use to decide if it makes sense).
In fact, it’s going to be tough to get all your stuff from the car to the ticket counter. We usually have to check 2 car seat bags, and one or two suitcases in addition to our carry-ons, and of course the kiddos. You’ll need one of those luggage carts you’ve probably noticed but never used (since you never had two babies) before. They are overpriced, but if they allow you to get a massive amount of luggage to a place where someone will take some of it without sweating, it’s worth it.
7. Use Car Seat Backpacks
If you are bringing your car seats, make sure you have a plan. Those things are big and heavy and hard to lug around. And, especially when you have two car seats, you’ll want to have an easy way to carry them. We love this padded one because of the extra padding to minimize damage during luggage transport and backpack straps for those times when we don’t have a luggage cart. We found that we can generally get away with throwing a few light-weight items, like a blanket or a stuffed animal to provide a little extra padding for the car seat, and extra storage for bulky items.
Read more about our favorite car seat travel bags here.
Need that car seat off your back? For walking longer distances, like when bringing car seats on the plane and thus needing to carry through the airport, we love these simple foldable luggage cart. Note that it isn’t designed for the child to ride in the car seat, but it will help you transport your carseat through the airport more easily. We wanted something that would work with any car seat, knowing that we wouldn’t be in the bucket car seats forever. We didn’t need one that the kids could ride in, and we really didn’t want to pay for one of the branded car seat carriers. This luggage cart has worked great for us!
8. Pack a great carry-on
Twins need a lot of gear. And if you want to keep your twins happy, clean-ish, and reasonably quiet in a confined space, like the airplane, you’re going to want the exact right gear! In fact, I think what you pack in your carry-on can really make or break your flight. No pressure!
Bring Plenty of food
Flight delays and cancellations can happen. One thing you CAN control is making sure you have enough for your twins (and yourself), even if you’re traveling a few hours longer than you’d planned
For bottle-fed babies, make sure you bring plenty of extra formula, and whatever other supplies you’ll need.
For toddlers and kids, bring heavy, nonperishable snacks that can work as a meal in a pinch. In fact, my kids usually prefer to eat JUST snacks over regular meals on travel days. I do my best to get as many nutrients in as possible, but let them decide what to eat on those travel days.
Also, remember that snacks can be entertainment. This is especially true for younger toddlers who are fairly new to food. But it works for some older kids as well. Bring a variety of non-super-messy or smelly foods, including a treat or two as a distraction for particularly tough moments to keep your twins entertained.
Bring Great Toys
Check out our post on the best travel toys here.
For babies, familiar favorite toys are a great choice for the plane. We pick a variety- some that are designed for more active play, and some that are great as a sleep aid.
For toddlers or older kids, we recommend bringing a few small, new toys. They can be given out throughout the flight as a fun little surprise. We get two of every toy because, inevitably, whatever toy one twin is playing with, the other twin wants it. It’s not worth the battle on the plane. You’ll want toys that are small, interesting, and fun to play with, and not something that’s just going to roll onto the floor and get lost.
Tablets can also be a lifesaver on travel days. We are really relaxed about screen time during travel days, which is a huge treat for my twins. They help a lot with busting boredom and keeping my twins happy!
Extra Clothing and Diapers
Accidents happen. Make sure you’re prepared for anything your twins throw at you (literally and figuratively).
For babies, bring at least one full outfit for each of your twins. Also, make sure you have at least a couple more diapers than you expect you’ll need JUST in case. If your twins are prone to blowouts, maybe bring 2 full outfits. Pack each outfit in a reusable wetbag or ziploc bag. That way, you can remove the clean outfit, and put the soiled outfit back in the bag, and there is no mess in your diaper bag.
As your twins get older, you might not need as much spare clothing. But we think it’s better to be prepared for the worst. Getting stuck in wet or dirty clothing is a quick way to make your twins uncomfortable and cranky in an already stressful situation.
You may also consider bringing some extra clothing for YOU. You likely won’t need a full change of clothing, but it might come in handy in the event of a big mess or an accident.
Think about their ears
Don’t forget that your twins might end up with pressure and pain due to elevation changes on the flight.
For babies, bring a pacifier, a bottle, or be prepared to nurse during take-off and landing. Since the flight attendants likely won’t let you nurse/hold both babies at the same time during take-off and landing, make sure you have a plan for the other baby.
For toddlers and older kids, bring something they’ll want to eat for both takeoff and landing. We usually bring lollipops or some kind of treat. That way, they are happily snacking, and their ears are popping as they swallow.
Another option is kids-sized ear planes. They help reduce some of the noise on the plane, and help with pressure shifts that cause pain.
9. Be prepared
When traveling with kids, things can get a LITTLE hectic at times. And there is a LOT you can’t plan out. You can’t know if flights are going to be delayed or canceled, if your twins will sleep, or what the passenger sitting next to you will be like.
But you can still have a plan for a LOT of things. Make sure you have all your travel documentation organized and ready to go. Double-check any travel requirements, especially in the age of a pandemic.
And take a moment to think through how you’ll get through security. If you have a stroller, you’ll likely need to get your twins out, fold up the stroller and put it through the x-ray, then walk through with your twins.
Read our tips for easily navigating the airport with kids here.
It can also be a bit tricky to get on the plane because aisles are narrow, and you won’t be able to take your stroller. It is particularly tricky if you are bringing larger carry-ons and car seats. Make sure you’ve not planned to bring on more than you can realistically carry.
One last tricky spot is getting the luggage from our car to the check-in counter. It can be tricky, and usually requires a luggage cart to transport all of our luggage, and our twins, into the airport.
10. Don’t worry
Bringing twins onto a plane CAN be a little intimidating. And yes, there are people who will groan when they see you getting on the plane with a couple of babies or toddlers. But honestly, MOST people are great. There are tons of other parents, even parents whose children are already grown up, who totally understand that you can’t keep your twins silent (or even QUIET sometimes). And if people are annoyed at your babies for existing, oh well. They can either 1. fly private, or 2. deal with it.
Fun little story
Our first flight with my twins was kind of awful. They were about 5 months old. It was a 6-hour flight in the afternoon/evening. We really expected they would sleep a lot. But guess what? They didn’t. They basically didn’t sleep at all. Perhaps their ears were hurting and they were overtired, and they were crying quite a lot. I was so stressed out worrying about everyone else on the flight hating us that I couldn’t really calm down, and the babies were big-time picking up on my stress, and the cycle continued. In fact, I actually got shingles from the stress.
Once I really thought about it, there was no reason to stress. Most people on that flight were so incredibly kind to us. Tons of people went out of their way to show support. AND my stress was actually making the situation way worse.
So, get yourself in the right mindset. Be ready for a few tears, and know that you are doing your best, and who cares what anyone else thinks!
My list of things I need to BE before flying with twins would include:
- Very well-rested, or very well-caffeinated. The roar of the engines wears me out but twin moms don’t have time to be tired. I breastfed so I obviously couldn’t ACTUALLY get a lot of sleep OR drink a lot of coffee, but .. for pretend
- VERY relaxed. My kids can’t nap on the plane. It drives me KIND of crazy, but I just have to let it ok. They are usually fine/happy, but I get caught up in how tired I think they are. Don’t do that 🙂
- Ready to sing .. a lot. Singing makes babies happy, and you are going to want to make them HAPPY. Maybe bring a playlist you can sing along to, or a book of nursery rhymes to remind yourself.
- Totally disinterested, even OBLIVIOUS tdeed2iapoohuaQuai1afo what others on the plane are thinking. Don’t worry about other people on the plane. Who cares if people are mad because your babies are crying! Sometimes babies cry. That’s just the way it is.
- Confident. Try this mantra: I am a good parent. I am doing my best and it is good enough.
- Open-minded. They may want to listen to you sing and talk to them or they may want to rattle a toy. They may not be able to nap regularly, and that’s totally ok. Flight attendants are typically pretty understanding. They will often allow you to walk up and down the aisles if you need to.
Traveling with twins can be hard. But it’s 100% worth it! We love exploring the world with our twins!