I’m going to be honest: We had booked two international trips with our infant twins only to do a hard cancel. (Well, we still went, but we coerced our family into watching them while we sipped wine in Tuscany at a friend’s wedding.)
Finally, at two and a half years old, we decided to go ahead and pay for their tickets and just see what would happen. (I'm still shaking my head at missing our window for free travel.) There are absolutely some things I would do differently, but the majority of the trip was fun and didn’t make me question my sanity.
Here are all the things I wish I knew before flying with my twins:
- When they are infants, book your tickets as far in advance as possible so you can secure the seats with bassinets if you're on a long flight.
- Get a lightweight double stroller. The Twin Triumph is perfect for the airport and easy to fold up and stow away.
- Only wear backpacks. Pack as light as humanly possible and carry on if you can. The worst thing you can do with twins is check luggage and have to wait at the baggage carousel while your children, and you, break down.
- As much as possible, plan your flights around their daily schedule. This is where we went wrong—we planned their first flight ever during nap time, so not only were they too excited to sleep on the plane, they were a hot mess in the airport while we waited for our connecting flight. And then we planned that flight for later in the evening, so by the time we got to our final destination, everyone was crying and no one knew where we were.
- Smaller, regional airports are your friend. You know those airports the discount airlines fly out of that no one has ever heard of? Yes, those. They are wonderful when traveling with little ones. Rarely is there a line at the bathroom, it’s easy to get from gate to gate, and security is a dream. Those airports are kid friendly and I highly recommend you go that route.
- Whoever had the idea to put playgrounds in airports is a genius. Truly. I’ve never noticed them before, but nearly every airport we flew in and out of had a designated play area for kids. The only thing missing was a free back massage and mimosa for all the parents breathing a sigh of relief.
- Don’t take your kids to the United Club. Just don’t. (Because we did and while it was nice to enjoy a free beer and stuff our kids' faces with endless cheese and crackers, the business travelers did not think it was cute to have toddlers running around screaming.)
- During takeoff and landing, give your kids something to suck on. Whether it’s a bottle for babies or a sucker for toddlers, it will keep them distracted and help them with the pressure on the plane.
- Prepare yourself for taxiing. It is the worst part but you too will survive. Explain to your toddler that they have to sit still, buckled up on the runway of O’Hare for 27 minutes, and you let me know how that goes for you.
- Book seats in the back when flying with toddlers. See point number 9. The people in the back are the cool moms who have been there and give you a reassuring nod when your child is screaming in their eardrums and kicking their seat. You need these seasoned parenting pros to talk you through takeoff and landing.
Overall, with a little planning and realistic expectations, flying with toddlers (even twins!) is not only doable, it’s fun. We found that everyone from the ticketing counter to the pilots were happy to have our twinados on board and went above and beyond to make the experience an adventure for them. From letting them explore the cockpit, to giving them their first set of wings, I was impressed with the patience of the flight crew and everyone around us.
Next time you see parents struggling with their kids in the airport, just give them a Hunger Games nod and steer clear of their stroller.
About the Author
Stefani Zimmerman Drake is a wife, twin mom and lover of rescue dogs. As a strategic communications consultant who runs her own business in Charleston, South Carolina, Stefani and her husband spend their time capturing all the sweet moments of their girls, while always dreaming about their next big adventure. You can follow their adventures online or via Instagram stories.