Traveling with Twins: Tips for an Enjoyable Vacation

Having recently returned from an enjoyable family vacation in Puerto Rico, the first trip that did not involve either of my children falling ill to motion sickness, I couldn’t help but think about how much easier traveling with twins has become. Yes, I still feel stress beforehand, and I tend to expect the worst (so that I am pleasantly surprised when it turns out better), but I think my husband and I have figured out a system that works for us and, hopefully, will continue to work as they get older. If you have yet to travel long distances with your multiples or cannot find a system that makes the trips easier on you, I hope you will find some useful tidbits in this post. 

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Traveling with Twins

This is how we roll while on vacation.
-C.H. 2015

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Make a list: This may seem obvious, but the more prepared you are, the better you will feel about your trip. For me, this involves making a packing list to ensure I bring everything important and to determine what I might need to buy. (The list also includes my own travel necessities because my semi-permanent placenta brain makes packing effectively from memory almost impossible.)
 
To devise your list, think about the temperature and anticipated activities at your destination; what your children eat and drink in a (travel) day; how much clothing they require from morning until bedtime each day; any medications, vitamins or supplements they use (or might need in an emergency); any special bedtime necessities (e.g. noise machine, dolls, night light); toilet training tools (portable seat top); bath time supplies and toys, etc.
 
Leverage your familial resources: If you are visiting family members, ask them to stock up on the diapers, formula, wipes, etc. you use because it will help to alleviate some weight from your bags and save some space in your suitcase for anything you end up acquiring on your trip. Bonus points if they have also accumulated some kid-friendly gear for your use. My mother-in-law has a knack for finding some great items at yard sales (e.g. infant seats, high chairs, car seats, safety gates, play pens, etc.).
 
Organize what you carry: To minimize the number of carry-on bags we would bring, I used to include as much as possible in a single bag. While this certainly saved us space in the airplane cabin and in the car, I found myself constantly digging through the bag to find what we needed and lamenting the lack of compartments and zippers in it. With toddlers in tow, I now make sure to separate their cups/drinks/snacks from their toys/activities/extra clothing/wipes and my own personal items. In this way, I am able to organize our travel necessities efficiently using no more than two tote bags.

On the airplane

Buy an extra seat: If traveling with twins under two, buy an extra seat if you can afford it. (We love to cash in our points.) This will allow you to place one child in a car seat and hold the other so that you and your partner can take breaks from holding a busybody. We also found it easier for them to nap in the car seat than in our arms, and they seemed to like taking turns checking out their surroundings from a different vantage point.

Traveling with Twins

One twin awake, one twin asleep
-S.H. 2012

Protect your baby gear: I had read somewhere about how often car seats and strollers are damaged during travel, especially when you have to deal with airport baggage handling, so we have tried a few different approaches.
For our first trip via airplane, we purchased the most inexpensive double umbrella stroller we could find at Babies R Us and ended up having to throw it out shortly thereafter. I would recommend bringing a sturdier, one-piece stroller that also collapses easily. We now bring our well-constructed, fairly lightweight, easily collapsible Baby Jogger City Mini Double Stroller, and it has fared very well against potential transport hazards.
 
Before our daughters turned two, we would also bring one of our Chicco Keyfit 30 car seats aboard the airplane to secure to the extra seat we purchased and protected the second car seat in checked luggage with a car seat cover we found on Amazon. Fortunately, the car seat cover did live up to our expectations and kept our car seat from getting damaged. You can check out that same car seat cover here.
Once our daughters had to be assigned their own seats on an airplane, we began to use an FAA-approved harness system for both instead of lugging around their car seats, which brings me to my next suggestion…
 

Ditch the bulky car seats: When traveling with twins that are two or older, consider an FAA-approved seat harness to spare you or your partner all the muscle required to haul two car seats along with the rest of your luggage. My husband, our former pack mule, now has a much easier time carrying the convenient little pouches that come with the harnesses. Check out these safe, innovative and lightweight harnesses here. Once we’re on the ground, we use the rented car seats we have reserved from the car rental company at our destination.
 
Traveling with Twins

Safely strapped into her FAA-approved harness
-C.H. 2015

Keep them entertained: Bring snacks, new toys and activities for them to do. Stickers and notebooks, sticker mosaic pictures, Crayola Color Wonder markers and compatible Color Wonder coloring books, molding clay, crayons and coloring books, Melissa & Doug Water Wow books, and beading kits have all been popular with our twins. (These are also great things to bring with you to restaurants, church, the DMV, and pretty much wherever you need your toddlers to sit and behave for an extended period of time.) Click here for some other fun ideas.

Bring your carry-on essentials: In addition to the usual kit you would bring with you on an hour-long visit to wherever, I would also encourage you to bring a change of clothes for each child, plastic bags to seal off any soiled clothing or diapers, and hand towels for wiping off any spills. I love Ziploc bags for their functional versatility and minimal space requirement; they work well for storing partially eaten snacks, sealing off soiled diapers (think about the shared cabin air), collecting loose crayons and markers, etc. My daughters experience motion sickness, so we can never be without these items!

Consider headphones for toddlers: For flights lasting longer than two hours, consider bringing kid-friendly headphones for use with your personal electronic devices or the airline’s television programming. Ear buds pop out constantly, and you will have to repeatedly fix them. One of my mom friends turned me onto some great ones from Kidz Gear that are available for about $20 on Amazon. They fit comfortably on both my daughters, whose heads vary in shape and size, and the earpiece is well-cushioned with soft, kid-friendly padding. You can check out their fun colors here.

Help with changes in air pressure: I generally don’t recommend giving your kids a lot of candy or sugary treats, but I have found that lollipops (especially Push Pops) do work as a distraction for the ear discomfort felt during the airplane’s descent. Drinking liquids and sucking on a pacifier, if applicable, also help a little.

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In the car

Because my twins’ motion sickness is worse in the car, we tend to avoid driving long distances. We prefer to fly or, when necessary, put them in the car at bedtime in hopes they sleep through most of the drive. Nevertheless, we have acquired a few tips for traveling with twins via automobile.
 

Rent a minivan: When you opt to fly to a new destination, I recommend renting a minivan for extra space and comfort. We do not have one at home, so it is always a bit of a treat for our twins. We tend to get free upgrades from a mid-size vehicle to a minivan most places we go. If your rental car company does not make a similar offer, it never hurts to ask! Also, reserve any necessary kids’ car seats in advance to ensure they are readily available when you pick up your rental vehicle.
 

Prepare for motion sickness: If your kids get car sick (like mine), bring a kit to keep in your vehicle that contains extra clothing, clean towels, and plastic bags for sealing soiled clothes. You should consult your pediatrician about using children’s Dramamine, but it is not usually recommended for kids that are not in school. On the day of your trip, try to avoid giving them dairy products. If you’re leaving in the morning, pancakes or muffins are better choices for breakfast than yogurt or cereal. We also stick to water, juice, and tummy-friendly snacks like crackers, chips, and applesauce.

Traveling with Twins

Quick lunch in the rental minivan
-C.H. 2015

Take frequent breaks: You may have to adjust your scheduled arrival if traveling long distances by vehicle. Kids need potty breaks and a chance to stretch more often than most adults do. If possible, plan your route ahead so you can stop by a park or playground along the way.
 
Use naptime (and bedtime) wisely: We like to plan our longer drives around their nap or bedtime schedule. Although my daughters have given up their daily naps, they cannot resist the lull of a vehicle engine when the ride is timed just right. Last year, we moved across several state lines at their bedtime, which at least saved them from becoming ill, although they did not cooperate with the anticipated sleep schedule!
 

Pack some entertainment: If you have DVD screens in your vehicle, play some of their favorite movies and perhaps bring some new ones that are likely to keep them occupied. Bring children’s music CDs and play games like “I spy.” If your kids are not likely to become dizzy when looking away from the direction of the vehicle, new books and other hand-held activities can also help them pass the time.

Traveling with Twins

Enjoying the arts & crafts table at the hotel
-C.H. 2015

At the hotel

Secure kid-friendly sleeping arrangements: When traveling with twins who still sleep in their cribs, ensure your hotel has cribs available for your use. Of course, you can also bring your own portable cribs like the popular Graco Pack ‘n Play.

If you’re traveling with twin toddlers who no longer sleep in cribs, you can ask the hotel for bed rails, although some have “safety protocols” against them.

Consider booking a suite: If you can swing it, we like to cash in points to book a one-bedroom suite that gives us a separate but adjoining space (like a pullout sofa bed in a living room) for them to sleep in. This gives the kids a better chance of respecting their bedtime routine and the parents a bit more freedom to move around the room once they are asleep. (Bonus points if you can get a suite with a kitchenette or, at the very least, a small refrigerator to store formula, milk, etc.)

Compare kid-friendly amenities: Before deciding on a hotel, check out what age-appropriate amenities the hotel property offers for your twins. Swimming pools, private beaches, playgrounds, arts & crafts, water parks, and miniature golf courses have all been popular options for my twin daughters. Free meals and babysitting services have been welcome features for their parents. Proximity to area attractions is also helpful when your hotel is lacking kid-friendly services and amenities.

Traveling with Twins

Lounging by the hotel pool
-C.H. 2015

Traveling away from home with children is never easy, and when you have multiples, it is likely to bring on some stress. Whether you have twin infants or toddlers, you are very likely to enjoy your travel adventures if you keep these tips in mind when you are planning your next trip. Happy, healthy twinning!

♥     ♥     ♥

Have I missed something? What do your vacations with twins look like? Please comment below.

  13 comments for “Traveling with Twins: Tips for an Enjoyable Vacation

  1. Matt
    October 29, 2015 at 5:20 am

    Oh my god I find it hard enough with one child let alone 2 lol. I absolutely struggle taking my son even to friends houses because they tend not to be baby proof or child friendly and I have to keep my eye on him at all times. Way to keep me on my toes haha. There are some really good tips in this article, some sound quite expensive though. I like how you have even made a point to make sure people think about the location they are going, not the one they are in when they pack.

    • Fit4Twins
      October 29, 2015 at 5:38 am

      Hi Matt! Yes, I can appreciate how difficult traveling with any number of little ones can be. Visiting houses that have no little people residing in them is a scary prospect for parents. Perhaps you can train your friends on how to better prepare their homes for your visits and bring some outlet covers with you? Just a thought. I think vacations are always an expense, and I do not expect all of my tips to work for everyone nor do they all apply to every one of my family vacations. There are certainly ways to cut corners on spending for a family trip, and I may focus on that in a future post. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Karissa
    October 30, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Hello,

    I love your website! It is definitely a good niche. I am a twin myself and I don’t know how my mom traveled with us, but if she would have had access to your site I’m sure she would have found it very useful!

    I like how you have broken down all of your ideas and suggestions for traveling to save time and not stress so much.

    I don’t have kids yet, but when I do I will use these great tips.

    P.S. I saw that you are a fitness enthusiast. I am a personal trainer, so maybe you would like my site as well. 🙂

    • Fit4Twins
      October 30, 2015 at 2:08 am

      Hi Karissa,

      Thank you very much for visiting my website and for your kind words. It is so neat to hear from actual twins – you must have some great stories. (Your mom probably does too.) I know I used to spend a lot more time feeling stress about anything that interrupted my carefully planned schedule and routine, like traveling, so I can only hope that sharing my ‘lessons learned’ will make someone else’s parenting experiences a bit more enjoyable. As a health and fitness-focused mom, I also plan to blog a little about my own fitness journey. I would certainly be interested in checking out your website, particularly for any workouts specific to my own postpartum problem areas. Please email your URL to carmen@fit4twins.com!

  3. Daniella
    November 23, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Hi Carmen,

    Your website is absolutely wonderful and the article is really interesting! I never had twins, but I can tell you that I admire mothers that raise twins. I mean I think I would have gone crazy:) I have two beautiful children with 2 years space between both of them and I remember that it was already hard with one. However, I suppose it’s double happiness.
    Thank you for this helpful blog

    • November 23, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Daniella, thank you for the kind comment. I am so pleased you like my website and content. Your perspective on what it would be like to raise twins is not uncommon, but the truth is I cannot begin to imagine having a toddler and an infant at the same time! How did you ever get sleep once the second one was born? And starting over again with the bottles and breastfeeding and diapers and burping…I. Can’t. It’s as though we end up with what we can truly handle. With two of your own (regardless of their ages), you certainly know double happiness. Happy, healthy mothering!

  4. Paul
    December 22, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Great tips Carmen on traveling with twins. The closest parallel I can think of in my own personal experience was when my parents used to take my brother and I on trips — I think that most if not all of the advice you give here can be applied to any two siblings whether or not they’re twins. There’s a ton of great suggestions here which I’m sure any parent with kids would find useful. I have a few people in mind who I’d think would be interested — I’ll be sure to send them over. Thanks!

    • December 22, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      Hello Paul, thanks for your comment. I suppose my tips could help any mom with multiple children of varied ages, but it is more difficult for me to put myself in their shoes, so I tend to stick with the perspective I know best! Sharing is caring, so thank you for the referral. I appreciate that very much. If your parent friends have any questions they would like me to answer, feel free to send them my email: carmen@fit4twins.com. I love hearing from readers!

  5. Stephanie
    December 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    This article brought back memories of when my children were little. It was fun but very stressful at times to travel either on vacation or to visit family and relatives. My mother and father were always good at having a stash of supplies for us when we came to visit from long distance. It was a huge help.

    I remember those long airplane rides too. All of your tips on surviving airplane travel with two little ones are awesome and right on. I like your idea of headphones for the toddlers. I would bring audio books of their favorite bedtime stories for them to listen to so they would associate going to sleep with listening to the story.

    Thank you again for another great article.

    • December 22, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Hello Stephanie! Thank you for leaving another thoughtful comment. I love your idea to bring audio books – brilliant! I had never considered that before. Thank you for the great suggestion! (I may have to attribute your idea in a future update to the article!)

      With the holidays nearing, we are preparing for yet another trip that includes a flight and some driving. I am half excited and half dreading it…but I’ll have my bag of toddler goodies ready to go! Although traveling with young kids can be stressful, I suppose when my daughters are teenagers, easily prone to boredom or indifference, I will miss these days. I have to remember that when I’m in the middle of the chaos!

  6. Bri
    February 24, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    First off, congratulations, you are so blessed with two adorable twin girls! I love your website! You strike a very personable & informative balance, I think you will reach the most people this way. I read a few of your articles, and can commiserate as a newish parent of one boisterous 23-month-old boy, but you are undoubtedly on another level with twins!

    Your site looks super clean and the content reads so well. Keep doing what you are doing!!! I will be back to read and learn from your wisdom! Thank you for sharing & congratulations on creating a really great website!

    • March 28, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      Hello Bri! Thank you for your kind comment and positive feedback. It is always great to hear how I’m doing! Sadly, my daily obligations have kept me from creating newer content, but I am gearing up for some blog modifications, so I hope you stay tuned. I recently cared for a little boy who is my daughters’ age, and I have a new found respect for mothers with sons – boys are HIGH energy! Happy, healthy parenting to you!

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