Background information on us: This was our first time to fly with Jude & Sloane. I wasn't nervous - I was petrified. My children don't like to sit still unless they're watching Daniel Tiger. Other than that glorious 30 minutes each morning, they are on the move until they crash at night. I had no idea how we were supposed to keep them still/happy for close to three hours.
Background information on planes:
1. Only one lap child is allowed per row (three seats) due to the row only having four oxygen masks.
2. Most airlines now charge extra for priority seating (aisles, exit rows, etc.) and no longer allow families to board first. Check in as early as possible so you're in an early group.
Background info on airports:
1. Children do not have to remove their shoes but do have to walk through security. My sister-in-law had her daughter in a Baby Bjorn and was able to walk through while still carrying her (they swiped her hands after she went through).
2. Strollers and carseats do not count as carry-ons (but they still go through the x-ray machine). Note: At some airports the carseats come out of a different baggage belt!
3. If you have a lap child, bring their birth certificate with you. We were never asked to show it but it's good to have for proof of the child's age.
4. Lap children are each allowed a carry-on/diaper bag.
This is what we brought to the airport:
1. One large suitcase that held the kids' clothes and our toiletries - we checked this bag ($25)
2. One carry-on filled with Michael's clothes
3. One carry-on filled with my clothes
4. Two full-sized backpacks - one for each child (more on this below)
5. Two single umbrella strollers
6. Stroller links
*We made the decision to purchase two single umbrella strollers instead of a double. We liked the idea of being able to separate the strollers for the majority of the trip, but wanted to attach them while we were at the airport. I was in charge of the kids/strollers/backpack and Michael was in charge of the bags. I was very pleased with the attachments, though they do make the stroller wide enough that it cannot fit through all doorways.
**We did not bring our own carseats. We rented carseats and have decided we will bring our own the next time we fly. They are not expensive to rent ($12/day/each) but were extremely hard to put in the car and offered little head support. They were, however, very clean.
Each backpack contained:
1. Food (Ella's Nibbly Fingers - specifically for takeoff and landing to help with pressure changes, Bunny Grahams, fruit snacks, Ella's pouches); All stored in one large ziplock bag for easy access
2. Three board books
3. One sticker book
4. Burp cloth (in case of mess)
5. Muslin blanket
6. Change of clothes
7. 5 diapers (extras in case of flight delay)
9. Empty sippy cup (the flight attendants filled them with water)
10. Birth certificate
11. Masking tape (Sloane loved playing with little pieces of tape!)
12. Fully charged iPhone with one full episode of Daniel Tiger and one of Mickey Mouse Club
We'd decided early on that Sloane would sit with me and Jude would sit with Michael. When we purchased our tickets the plan was to select two aisle seats in an adjoining row. Unfortunately, these seats cost more (boo!) and they didn't have two aisle seats next to one another available. Because of this, we both sat in window seats with Michael/Jude directly in front of us. Several times Jude would pop his head up over the seat and wave.
A few tips:
1. Once you get to your gate, ask an attendant if it's a full flight. If it's not, a lot of times they will move passengers around so you get an entire row to yourselves. This happened on our way back and I was so grateful (so were the passengers)!
2. We waited until they started boarding the plane before we changed diapers. Fortunately, there were no bad diapers on the flight so we didn't have to change them again until we landed.
3. Have a detailed plan for security - that was the most stressful part of our airport experience. We decided we'd leave the kids in the stroller while we each removed our shoes, food, laptop, etc. Michael pushed our luggage through the machine while I removed the stroller attachments and got the kiddos out. I walked through the x-ray machine with them while he collapsed the strollers. Once we were all through the machine, he setup the strollers while I made sure the kids didn't run off.
4. Headphones are obviously the most polite way to travel, but we were told children's headphones have volume limits for safety, making it impossible for children to hear over the plane noise. We opted to let the kids watch their shows on the iPhones without headphones. The plane was loud enough that I could barely hear the show - I highly doubt our seat neighbor heard a thing.
5. Schedule your flight during the twins' happiest time of the day. The flight to Florida was in the early afternoon, right after their nap. It was perfect. The flight home was in the evening and right in the middle of bedtime. It was NOT perfect. Do not assume your children will sleep on the plane.
6. We really tried to space everything out as much as possible - this included food and toys. We didn't want to throw everything at them at the very beginning and end up empty handed the last two hours. Instead, we were slow and intentional about everything. We also saved the iPhones for last and didn't use them until our bag of tricks was completely depleted.
A few BEACH tips:
1. We purchased reusable swim diapers from Target ($10/each) and they were wonderful! Disposable swim diapers are so expensive and we knew we'd be hitting the beach and pool multiple times a day. These were perfect!
2. We used Babyganics Sunscreen Spray (SPF 50+) on the kids all week. Neither of them burned and both left with a nice little tan! We've used other sunscreens in the past that gave them terrible eczema - this was perfect!
Coppertone Sport AccuSpray for us (SPF 30). This was AMAZING. I've never used a spray lotion before but it takes exactly 10 seconds to apply. When you are getting two toddlers ready for the pool, the last thing you want is to spend another 10 minutes putting sunscreen on yourself! It was so quick and neither of us burned. I used the kids' sunscreen on my face for extra protection.
4. Bring your camera (or phone) and TAKE PICTURES. And then put it away. I took one or both with me everywhere we went and spent no more than five minutes taking pictures. I wanted to capture special moments (there were so many!) but didn't want it to take over the trip. I will never regret taking those pictures and I will never regret spending the majority of the day with two free hands (although, let's be honest, your hands are quite full as everyone likes to remind you). ;)
That's it from me! Samantha wrote an amazing post about traveling with twins on Twin Talk - her post was SO helpful!