Travelling with Twins by Colleen Yates

For my husband and I, traveling long-haul with twins was an inevitability. I’m American, my parents live in Asia, and my husband is British. When I first found out I was pregnant with our twin girls, we had just purchased tickets to spend Christmas in Bali with my family. The girls would be three months old at the time of travel, and I was having a minor breakdown worrying about how we would survive a 25-hour journey with two small babies. The interweb, of course, offered any number of solutions to these worries. Some of my personal favourites included variations on the following:

“Just buy everyone on the plane a goody bag filled with treats like ear plugs and chocolate and a cute little hand-written note ‘from the babies’ to apologise in advance for the noise.”

Apparently some couple in the USA did this and it made national news. To those parents, who to their credit seem like very thoughtful people, I’d like to say a big thanks for making the rest of us look like dirtbags when we don’t purchase and distribute 200 goody bags because we dared to bring small children on a flight. Because, you know, parents of multiples regularly have the time, energy and motivation to make pinterest-perfect goody bags in between keeping their offspring alive and packing 57 bags of kiddie swag for ‘just in case’. Also, this doesn’t offer a solution to how to avoid needing goody bags in the first place.

“Just don’t travel if you have very small children. It’s rude and inconsiderate.”

Uh… thanks for that super helpful tip.

“Give them some antihistamine to knock them out for a few hours. Everyone on the plane will thank you, as will your babies when they wake up refreshed and cheerful at the end of the flight.”

I’ll admit, this one sounds tempting, but the last time I checked, it was neither recommended by Doctor Google nor, indeed, by the judgy lady behind the Boots counter. Bummer.

Thankfully, our first long-haul flight with the girls went off fairly well, despite the fact that we didn’t make up goody bags or drug them. Their age was perfect for the flight because they slept most of the way (tip: after booking your tickets, call the airline to tell them you have baby twins and ask for bassinet seats). They were still too young to have a firm grasp on the whole night/day concept, which made jet lag less of an issue. Barring some very tight connections, a lost buggy (tip: leave the pricey double at home) and one incident of an explosive poo during takeoff, it wasn’t a bad flight as flights with kids go. My one take-away from the trip was that baby carriers are fairly essential for long-haul flights. Babies can sleep in them, ride in them whilst you’re running to make a connection, sit in them when you don’t fancy holding a wide-awake child on the plane for hours… very useful indeed.

We have taken the girls on a number of shorter flights since that time, all relatively incident-free, but this past spring we flew to Indonesia again when the girls were 18 months old. I was newly pregnant with our third child (and quite ill with morning sickness), and whilst sparing details, I would venture to say that flying long-haul with energetic toddler twins is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. There are plenty of ways to stave off the anti-social behaviour that give parents of small children a bad name (lots of walks around the plane and backpacks full of snacks and games and toys and iPads spring to mind), but there are some ages, of which I suspect 18 months is one, when even the best-planned backpack in the world loses its appeal after 15 hours or so.

Despite the difficulties of keeping your small children from doing a jig on the last nerve of every passenger on board, don’t let the prospect of a few unpleasant hours on a plane deter you from taking the opportunity to get away and enjoy some R&R as a family. Even if your twins are really small, the memories and the experiences are worth it. Happily, you will probably never see your fellow air passengers again, so whatever happens, don’t stress too much when one of your babies poops all over you just as the plane is taking off or when both of your over-tired toddlers throw a magnum opus tantrum because you won’t let them eat the roll or play with the wine bottle on your sleeping neighbour’s tray. Just do your best to keep them happy, pack some cover-up to hide the dark circles, smile loads at scowling passengers, and treat yourself to a big-ass Starbucks when you get to an airport. It’ll all be over in a few hours.

Happy travelling!