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Travelling was my passion before getting pregnant and I have decided not to give up even when having kids. I have spent quite a lot of time researching from different sources since I wanted to be 100% prepared for the first flight with our twins. So far we flew to 2 destinations – UK when they were 3 months and we just got back from Malta recently (twins turning 6 months in 2 weeks). Frankly speaking the older they get the more challenging the trips become since they need more entertainment and they are not that sleepy anymore. But at the same moment, you get the feeling (maybe just my wish, who knows) that kids are getting something from travelling with you too. There are a lot of challenges when travelling with babies, starting with the amount of stuff you have to bring with you, to grumpy judgy people on the plain. But, that’s not what I wanted to write about. This article should help other parents to make the experience of travelling more pleasant for everyone involved. The best tip you can get is to get your own experience. Every baby is different and so are parents. But, there are a couple of things that can make your life easier. Please note my experience is based on travelling with twins, but I am sure you can apply the tips on singlets too 🙂
Have your babies on a schedule
I know there are different opinions and a lot of discussions on what’s best for your baby if feeding on-demand or “strict” schedule, but that would be for another article/conversation. The point is that feeding/sleeping schedule works for us and makes travelling with our little ones much easier because you can simply plan. You can choose the flight for times when your kids are asleep, you can plan the feedings around the flight or transfers to/from the airport etc. If you are interested in more information about setting up the schedule check this book. It helped me a lot to understand the mechanism of setting up the schedule for babies. I don’t follow all the rules strictly and I also adjusted the times of feedings so it suits our own needs and habits better. But, as mentioned above it gives you a decent idea of what to expect if you decide to walk this path with your babies. If you are interested in something more focused on twins specifically, I can recommend a book from Nina Garcia, How to sleep train twins. It’s not that wordy as the book from Gary Ezzo and more to the point.
Feeding and changing arsenal on the go
If you are not breastfeeding, have always everything ready to use to avoid any hunger outbreaks at the airport or on the plain. You can bring boiled water in a hot flask so you don’t have to ask anyone to warm it up for you (interesting finding here, they have no microwaves on the plain). You have to present this flask at the security check and you may be asked to taste it, but never happened to me so far. If you are travelling by car it’s much easier for you since you can get one of the amazing car bottle warmers which you can plug into the lighter in your car. I have mine from Czech brand Bayby and it’s great because it’s big enough to use not only for bottles but also for jars with baby food. Also, it is great to get the type of self-sterilizing bottles which you can sterilize in a microwave without using the sterilization tray which is not very compact to pack. I use MAM bottles and it’s brilliant. If you already have bottles and you don’t wanna spend money on a new set, you can always go for sterilizing bags, which can fit into every bag/suitcase. When it comes to formula always check if the brand you use is available in the country you are heading to so you don’t have to bring that much with you. Just a tip for those who use Nutrilon in the Czech Republic, there is a formula called Aptamil available in the UK which is basically the same brand. When it comes to changing babies on the go it's always better to bring more “material” and especially SPARE CLOTHES. Definitely for the kids, but you might consider having one extra T-shirt for yourself too. If you travel with twins make sure you and your partner or whoever is travelling with you has the changing gear too so you are not dependant on each other. I have bought a diaper bag here and I must say it was a good choice. Not only that it matches our pram (very important right?), but it has all the pockets and features you need and also looks good standalone and even my partner is not “ashamed” to carry it. I remember him saying he wouldn’t mind to use it as a laptop bag :). They also have a bag pack version of this bag which looks great too.
In general, good pram with handy features saves you time and money, even when the initial price might be higher. Choosing a pram for twins was a real challenge since I wanted something easy to handle for cruising the city, but also sturdy enough for walks in the woods. After weeks of our search, we decided on Bugaboo Donkey, which is perfect. It’s super easy to collapse and fits in most of the car boots. Also, you can get a special travel bag which is handy especially for flights since you can pack everything at home and just simply check it in. All airlines will check your buggy in for free, as well as the car seat. If you prefer, you can keep the buggy until the gate and then just hand it over to one of the employees. Please keep in mind that it must fit into the x-ray during the security check on your way to the gate. Also always check with staff where you gonna get your pram back in the final destination, if next to the gate again or on the belt with the rest of standard baggage. It always depends on the airport, talking from my own recent experience where I almost left our car seats lying next to the plain at the Malta airport since I was expecting to get them on the belt with the rest of luggage as it was in London. So better to ask than to be sorry.
Seats on a plain
If you are flying with infant you can have them seated on your lap for free (well, it's not free, there is always a fee included to your flight ticket, usually around 30 euro) or you can get them flight ticket and have them seated next to you in a car seat which needs to be approved and recognized as suitable for travelling on planes. We have Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus which are suitable, but we haven’t used it yet since we were only on short flights (2,5 hours max) which are doable with the infant on your lap.
I would definitely recommend paying a little bit extra so you can book your seats in advance. And which spots are the best for babies? Bear in mind that you might need to get up during the flight quite often so skip the window seats for this time and go for the aisle. If you have 2 infants you cannot book seats next to each other since there are only 4 oxygen masks per 3 seats so the only option how to sit close is either behind each other or have the aisle in between you which I find the best. Some of the airlines have infant cots available (for example Emirates, Etihad…) so always check this option before booking your seats.
I am not gonna tell you which carrier/sling is the best for your baby, I am not a paediatrician or a specialist on baby physical development so take this just as my experience which may or may not help others to decide what to use. Since we have twins I don’t get many opportunities to go out without the pram just with the carrier so we usually use the carries only for travelling or going to farmers markets where you need to be more flexible (which is not very possible with double pram :)). I purchased 2 different types of “apparatus” the classic sling and then Baby Bjorn carrier. The first one I used when the babies were smaller and usually at home when they were restless. They looked super comfy in it, but after a while, the sling needs to tighten up, sometimes I had to remove it and start from scratch. I am not saying this one is bad, it’s just that when you travel you need something more handy and less fiddle. The other one we use much more, especially when going out/travelling. The first reason why we prefer the carrier is that it's much easier and faster to use. I honestly can’t imagine my boyfriend wrestling with the sling 😀 Also when you are using these for transfers to/from a car or at the airport it makes your life much easier and it helps you to move around much faster. When flying with these, you don’t even have to remove the baby for takeoff or landing. You just wrap the additional security belt around the baby while he/she is in the carrier. I really appreciate this since our babies are usually asleep when on the plane and you definitely don’t wanna wake them up :).
VERY important point since it can save your sanity (and anyone else’s around). Make sure you always pack something to distract/entertain your baby when getting fussy or bored. I don’t think you need loads of toys, but one or two which you are sure that work will be enough. Our babies don’t have many toys in general and if they have a choice they usually go for the simplest one anyway.
We are more of freestyle travellers so we don't use travel agencies that organize your trip from A to Z and we prefer Airbnb to a hotel. With babies, we find it even more comfortable to be in an Airbnb apartment since you have more space and privacy. When booking a place, always make sure there is wash machine, microwave and electric kettle available which are the basics to survive there with babies. Also, if you have twins ask the owner about the elevator, door width and the entrance in general. We made the mistake of not asking all these details last time and we ended up folding and unfolding the pram to the bits every single time when going out. The elevator was 80cm which is enough for our tank, but unfortunately, the owner didn’t warn us (even when knowing we are coming with baby twins) that the corridor leading to it is only 40cm.
Pack light. This rule is gold and you should stick to it, even more, when travelling with babies/kids. If you are staying in Airbnb you can do your laundry anytime you want and when in a hotel, you can always use laundry service nearby once in a couple of days. Also forget about bulky items, like baby blankets for instance. Try to ask the owner of the place if they don’t have any to borrow or (if you don’t travel to cold places of course) use your pashmina instead which keeps your baby warm and cosy, but doesn’t take that much space. Remember that less stuff means less luggage to carry around. There would be much more to talk about when it comes to travelling with kids, but that would make my post impossible to read in one go. If you have any questions or any other tips please feel free to contact me directly or comment below. I am sure you have much more tips on how to make travelling less hassle and more fun.
Links to products from the article:
Sleep training book http://www.thatslife.cz/babywise
Twins sleep training book http://www.thatslife.cz/sleeptraintwins
Self-sterilizing bottles http://www.thatslife.cz/mambottles
Microwave sterilizing bags http://www.thatslife.cz/steriliserbags
Travel bag http://www.thatslife.cz/travelbag
Car seat http://www.thatslife.cz/carseat