Kate has been travelling with her little ones for years both interstate and overseas and recently in London. Kate thought it would be beneficial to share her experience with our readers to help them with travelling with multiples leading up to the holidays. Thanks Kate for such an informative and helpful article! xo Catherine
Travelling with multiples - especially travelling with infant or toddler twins — can be stressful and exhausting. However with preparation, planning and research you can help lessen your stress level and not lose your passion for travel.
Here are my TOP TWENTY TIPS for travelling (by plane) with multiples.
1. Packing - I am a self confessed over packer. Your amount of luggage depends largely on your destination (e.g. beach/resort holiday generally means less clothes). Bring as much luggage as you can manage/carry but be sure to divide belongings between each bag in case one goes missing. Don’t forget items that you rely on at home e.g. GRO Clock, bedtime music, special blanket/toy. Also count how many pieces of luggage you leave the house with so you can do a quick count each time you move between transport, airports etc. This saved us from leaving a backpack in a taxi once.
2. Maximise your carry on allowance - Pack one bag simply with back up items: outfits (two for each child, one for each adult) nappies (pack double the amount you would usually use within the same time frame at home), formula (same rule as nappies), baby wipes, tissues and zip lock bags for dirty clothes.
3. Pack each child their own bag - Each bag should have the required nappies, formula, disposable bottles (use and dispose), snacks, water bottle, toys (wrapped in gift wrap), books, iPad and headphones. I found packing individual nappies in separate zip lock bags useful so I could just grab one bag plus the wipes each time.
4. Help little ears - Help little ears at take-off and landing by offering breast, bottle, straw water bottle or a lolly pop to suck. On a recent flight we used Animal Balloon Buddies for the first time which were also fantastic! If you can teach older children to pop their ears before the flight that will help a lot as well.
5. Book a driver - Book a driver to transfer you to and from the airport. Instead of driving yourself, finding a park, unpacking the car, chasing after the children in the carpark, waiting for the bus, loading on your luggage, finding a seat so you don’t stack it, unloading your luggage and hunting down a trolley ALL BEFORE ARRIVING AT THE TERMINAL! Not to mention the fact that we couldn't even fit everything into our 4WD that we needed to take on our first holiday! It may cost a bit extra but it will definitely help your sanity.
6. Baby wear, pram vs Trunki - Decide whether you are going to baby wear, take a pram or use something like a Trunki to transport the little ones. Most airlines require you to check in double prams but offer free use of their prams right up to the boarding gate. We have found the Trunki's to be fantastic for toddlers, they love being pulled along or racing each other through the terminal - which wears them out for the flight. More on this topic below.
7. Arrive at the airport early - Arrive an extra 30 minutes to an hour earlier than suggested by your airline. This will allow ample time for check in, baggage drop, something to eat, toilet and nappy changing + play time. If you're travelling domestic, find an empty gate at the airport and let the kids run around, crawl under chairs and watch the planes take off and land. If you're travelling international, you will find several designated play areas within the terminal. We have always let the kids run around and boarded last on domestic flights where there isn't as much to get organised and we don’t have as much carry on. For international flights we ALWAYS try to board first with other families. You have more luck getting extra pillows, blankets and bottles of water if you board early on international flights too.
8. Plane Cushions - Hire or purchase a plane cushion such as Plane Pal or Kooshy Kids. Approved by most airlines these cushions allow little ones to be extra comfortable and sleep during the flight. We recently used them from Melbourne > London via Dubai on Emirates and although they are not an approved airline we didn’t incur any problems on any of our flights. In fact, not one cabin crew member even commented on them! Between Melbourne and Dubai the poppets slept 8-9 hours both flights and between Dubai and London it was about 4-5 hours. That’s uninterrupted, solid sleep. I have since hired them out to several families at our kindergarten who have also had similar experiences. Highly recommended!
9. Seating - Infants under 2 years of age are not required to purchase a seat and therefore are required to sit on an adults lap. Note: only one infant can be booked to travel with one adult. Although this is the most economic time to travel, depending on the size of your little ones and length of flight, this might not be the most comfortable. If you do want extra room, consider purchasing just one child seat not two. Choosing the right seat on the plane is very important too if possible pre-book your seats in advance. For domestic flights we have always flown two in front, two behind and for international we have chosen three seats on one side and one across the aisle. Wherever you choose to sit, get set up as soon as you board. Make sure you have sucking aids, toys, and a few snacks ready to go before take off.
10. Airport Transfers - Just like you did in Melbourne travelling to the airport, organise for a private transfer at your destination. They should either be waiting for you at the luggage carousel with trolleys ready or directly after you have collected your baggage. Those with cold water and treats for the kids are even more amazing! This helps having to navigate public transport or taxi lines. If you need to hire a car at your destination, do so closer to your accommodation. You are less likely to need a bigger car than you would have needed at the airport when you landed with all your luggage.
11. Accommodation - You have two options as far as accommodation goes: shared hotel style room or an apartment. Your decision will be based on the length of your stay and the number of children you have (i.e. how many beds you need). We find for longer, beach holidays we prefer a unit with separate lounge and bedrooms + a full kitchen.
Where as on a recent trip to London, we stayed in a hotel right alongside the London Eye, Arlo and Macy were happy to share a fold out double bed in the lounge room but it certainly helped that we were only in our room to sleep! At the very minimum you need a small kitchenette for snacks, drinks etc. Think about location too - do you want to be closer to the action (generally smaller, more expensive accommodation) or a little bit further away (larger, more economical). Enquire about access too, you don't want to be carrying several suitcases, a pram and children up and down lots of stairs everyday!
12. Child Proof - Whatever your accommodation choice and no matter what age your little ones are, make sure you child-proof your room. I keep a bag of childproofing equipment in our suitcase all the time so I know that I won’t forget it. Scan the floor, tape up locks or doors, kitchen cupboards, sharp edges of tables + electrical sockets with duct tape, lock windows and/or doors to balconies and remove unwanted items such as alarm radios and bedside table lamps. We have also been known to completely remove furniture out of bedrooms or place into wardrobes and duct tape blankets to windows or block out blind to stop light coming in.
13. Baby Equipment Hire - You already have your hands full with your multiples, there is no need to lug multiple baby items with you as well! Investigate baby equipment hire businesses at your destination - most offer airport and hotel services, so all your baby equipment hire needs are ready before you arrive. Easy!
14. Laundry, laundry, laundry! - No mater whether you are at home or holidays, there is always laundry to be done! Consider whether you want a washing machine and/or dryer at your accommodation or whether you are happy to do washing by hand. Another alternate is to outsource to a local laundromat, some even offer a collection and drop off service. This will be an additional cost to factor into your budget but it also relieves the stress and valuable time you deserve on YOUR holiday.
15. Groceries - When you arrive at your destination, it is inevitable that you will need groceries, whether it’s a few basic items or a few bottles of water you will need to buy supplies. In most areas you will be able to find a convenience store or supermarket close by which is perfect for a few items. If you need to do a larger shop and don't a car, I highly recommend organising groceries to be delivered directly to your accommodation.
Depending on your location and type of accommodation you may be able to order simply through Coles or Woolworths. Alternatively some holiday destinations offer a grocery service whereby you can order online and they will deliver and unpack items ready for when you arrive.
16. Routine - Part of the fun of family travel is the break from routine. But a break from routine can affect not only sleep but a child’s behaviour too. Whether your schedule is focused around feedings or based on nap times, the key to peace of mind is recreating your schedule at home and sticking to it - most of the time. Do your best to maintain this schedule but also don’t be afraid to make a few changes if you know that your little ones will not be affected too much.
17. Holidays are all about having fun, right?! So spend some time before you travel researching attractions, tours, restaurants and fun activities to do at your destination. Look online for special offers or ask whether they offer a discount for multiples. I highly recommend having a list of wet weather options up your sleeve too - even if it’s as simple as story time at the local library or an indoor play centre.
18. Read - For toddlers and older children, read books about going on a holiday or your destination beforehand. Libraries are a great resource for this and you may even find some of your children’s favourite characters have visited your destination too! I’m pretty sure I can now recite most of ‘Peppa Pig Goes To London’!
19. Coming Home - When your holiday has come to an end and you are packing your suitcases, it will be handy to have pre-prepared a coming home bag with familiar snacks, lolly pops, different toys and activities for your flight home. The last thing you have time to do when you’re preparing to come home is run around to collect more supplies, so pack the bag before you leave and it will be ready to distribute into carry on luggage when the time comes.
20. BREATHE - I know travelling with multiples can be stressful, but try to relax. You must remember that things may happen that are out of your control (no matter how prepared you are!) and you just have to roll with it. Delayed flights happen. Being stuck in traffic is never fun. Children cry and scream. Just take a deep breath and relax. I promise when you get to where you’re going it will be worth it! You will see your little ones having fun and you will forget the bad things. Lower your expectations and order another cocktail!