Flying with twins? We’ve got your back! Read on for all our tips and tricks for traveling with your duo.
*Note: This article is based on domestic travel within the USA
There’s no denying it: traveling with twins can be challenging, but it can also be amazing and incredibly rewarding. You get to see how resilient and flexible they are (my kids can sleep in beds that aren’t theirs, really?!! *insert mind blown emoji here*), and you get to throw schedules and to-do lists out the window and enjoy your little ones in a whole new way, in a whole new place.
But wait, before you get to relish the actual trip, you have to get to your destination — that’s the “scary” part, right? Well, not if you’re prepared. That’s why we’re putting this traveling guide together: to help you plan and get ready for the unexpected. So read on and get packin’… and don’t forget to pack a little sense of humor while you’re at it. It will go a long way.
See Also: Flying With Baby — Meg’s eBook
Mentality: Be Flexible, Stay Positive
Is your flight delayed? Or maybe it’s raining and colder than you expected and you’ll have to force your kids into 6 different layers because you totally didn’t pack for the weather? Don’t worry (be happy)! Attitude is everything. Try to view whatever doesn’t go as planned as an adventure. If you stay positive and move on to plan B, your little ones will too! (Note: this is coming from an extremely Type-A++ over-planner who absolutely despises when things don’t go as expected. So I completely recognize this is much easier said than done!)
Important Information to Know Before The Trip
Navigating the airport and flying with twins isn’t a piece of cake. But this must-know info will help you along the way.
It goes without saying that traveling with children always takes more time than traveling alone (duh!). Prepare for bathroom breaks, slow walkers, tantrums x2, etc. In other words, you’ll want to give yourself and your family plenty of extra time. Now onto the nitty gritty.
Airplane Seating Configuration
Yes, that’s something to think about well before your actual flight. Flying with twins requires some mental gymnastics to figure out your family’s best seating situation.
If your twins are infants…
While you’re not required to buy seats for infants, it may be helpful to do so. You’ll have extra room and will be able to use car seats, which will keep babies contained (meaning parents don’t have to hold squirmy babies the entire flight!). Plus, it’s a safer way for your babies to fly and may help them fall asleep (and stay asleep!) during the flight.
If you do decide to use car seats, you’ll have to install them closest to the windows, according to FAA.gov. This is so that, in the event of an emergency, car seats aren’t blocking the pathway for passengers to evacuate. With twins, this means that you and your partner can either sit in the same row across the aisle from each other, OR you can sit one row in front of the other. Note that infant car seats are not allowed in exit rows.
If you do not purchase seats for your babies and stay on your lap, you and your partner will want to choose two aisle seats, either across the row from each other, or one in front of the other. Why? Because, in most cases, there’s only one extra oxygen mask per row (so if the row has three people, there are generally only four oxygen masks for those travelers) — not enough for five passengers in a row in case of emergency.
The bulkhead row can be great with little ones, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to place carry-ons on the floor during take-off and landing — not even your diaper bag. You’ll have to store everything in the overhead bin — something to consider if you want access to your little ones’ essentials at all times.
Note: lap babies are not allowed to sit in exit rows or in the rows directly in front of or behind exit rows. Call the airline in advance to discuss the best seating configuration for your family. For more tips on flying with lap infants (and kids in general!), check out The Points Guy.
If your twins are toddlers…
FAA regulations require that children over age 2 must have their own seats, even if they turn 2 while on vacation (this was the case when we traveled over our twins’ 2nd birthday. Our travel agent explained to us that we had to purchase seats for them because airlines can deny travel for any 2-year-old who doesn’t have a seat).
Knowing that, seating configuration with toddlers is actually not as technically challenging, but it can still be tricky, and you’ll have to figure out what works best for you and your family on a more personal level.
For example, one of my twins is more prone to outbursts and challenging behavior, and she seems to respond better to me than my husband. So I like to sit next to her on the plane.
We always have our 3-year-old twins next to an adult. Once they’re older and are more independent, we’ll be more flexible about our seating configuration.
Whatever you decide, make sure to call the airline in advance to let them know of your preference before boarding.
Flying solo? Some smaller airlines may not allow you to travel alone with infant twins. First, if you are traveling on your own with your duo, bless you! Seriously. You’re my hero.
The major U.S. airlines, such as Delta, Southwest, United, JetBlue, Frontier, Hawaiian, Sun Country, Spirit, Allegiant and American, will allow up to two babies under the age of 2 per one adult, as long as one of the infants has a purchased seat (in other words, only ONE lap infant is allowed per adult; you will need to purchase a seat for your second infant, and bring an FAA-approved car seat for that baby to sit in as well — more on that later).
That said, if you are planning to travel solo with twins, especially on a smaller or regional airline, be sure to check the airline’s rules before booking your flight.
Remember that if you do not purchase a seat for your baby, many airlines do not offer baggage allowances for lap babies. Check with the airline before booking your trip.
TSA and Security
Think about TSA PreCheck or CLEAR. It’s a well-worth investment to pass through a much shortened line at security — and less scrutiny to boot (your sanity will thank you). And guess what, your TSA PreCheck benefits apply to kiddos age 12 and under. After and up until 18 years old, children can use your CLEAR account.
Babywearing parents: you can wear your babies through security checkpoints in the United States! Generally, TSA agents will allow you and your spouse to walk through security wearing your babies in a soft-structured carrier (a ring sling will set off the alarm, so make sure to take it off). Once you’re through, the agent will swab your hands to test for explosive residue and gun powder — and then you’re off!
Double Umbrella Strollers are super helpful for carting your kids through the airport to your gate, but know that you cannot push the stroller through security. You’ll have to slide it down the conveyor belt with the rest of your belongings.
Bringing pumped milk, prepared formula or baby food on board? Great! You can carry on these liquids in quantities greater than the 3.4 oz (100ml) liquid maximum. Just be prepared to present it to a TSA officer at the security check-in.
Know your rights when it comes to getting through security with your pumped breast milk, formula or baby food.
In the US, regardless of whether your children are with you, you are allowed to carry on breast milk, formula, baby food or juice as long as you declare it to the TSA officers at the security checkpoint. In addition, the 3-1-1 rule does not apply to these types of liquids.
In addition to telling the TSA officer that you’re carrying on breast milk, formula, baby food or juice, here’s what you need to know/do:
- Separate the breast milk, formula or juice from your other liquids and remove them from your carry-on bag to be screened separately.
- Be prepared to have these liquids X-rayed. (The FDA says “there are no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages and using medicine screened by X-ray.”)
- You may also be asked to open the containers so the liquids can be tested for explosives or other concealed prohibited items. This process may entail transferring these liquids into another container or disposing of a small quantity of them for testing purposes. (Yes — even the liquid gold…cue the tears, I know!)
- If you don’t want your breast milk to be X-rayed or opened, let security know. Just be aware the liquids will still have to be cleared through other means, and you will likely have to go through additional screening procedures (i.e. a pat-down and screening of your other carry-on items, etc.).
- You may also carry-on ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs, etc. to keep baby-related liquids cool. Note that if these items are partially frozen or melted, they will have to go through the same screening process as described above.
Don’t just know your rights, print out a copy of them from the TSA’s Traveling with Children webpage. If a TSA security officer gives you any trouble, show them your print-out and remind them that you are allowed to carry these liquids on with or without your child(dren) in tow.
A note on strollers: before you head all the way to your gate with your double stroller, check to make sure your airline permits it. Some airlines, such as American Airlines, will not allow you to gate check a stroller that’s over 20 lbs. This J.L. Childress gate check bag — which you can use to check your stroller or car seat — is awesome.
Write your name on the outside with a big Sharpie, then leave it at the end of the jetway before making your way onto the plane. Yes, it will need to be tagged. Do this in advance so you don’t hold up the line. You’ll pick it up when you arrive at your destination, put your kids back in, and stroll with ease (one can dream, right??) to the baggage claim.
What to Pack for the Plane
What you’ll need on the plane depends heavily on whether you’re traveling with twin infants or toddlers. Read on to learn all about what you’ll need for both.
- Baby Travel Gear for Infants & Toddlers
- Travel Paraphernalia – Gadgets & Tools for Traveling with Young Kids
Packing for Twin Infants — the Carry-On Lowdown
Traveling with infant twins is no joke. It’s totally doable (promise!), but it takes some forethought and preparation. I start packing and organizing my diaper bag a week or so in advance so I have plenty of time to edit as necessary. But when it comes down to it, you need the same things as if you were packing for one baby… just more of them! Here’s a quick rundown:
Pacifiers: if your kids use them, they aren’t just a great way to soothe them; they also ease ear pain and pressure during take-off and landing. If your little one doesn’t use pacifiers, you can use anything that produces a sucking motion — from bottle to teether to the breast.
Pacifier clips: if you are bringing pacifiers, attach them to your little ones’ clothes. You do NOT want them to fall on the dirty airport and airplane floors.
Diapers and wipes (lots of them): I don’t know what it is about being on a plane, but I’ve found that it makes babies poop…explosively. We have had to deal with a blowout situation literally on every plane ride we’ve ever taken with kids. Whether or not your babes are like mine, just, you know, be prepared.
Extra clothes: Not just for the babies — for you too (because, you know, explosive poops. And spit-up. And spilled milk. You get the idea)!
Baby meds: I carry infant Tylenol and children’s benadryl in a plastic baggie. If your children have any allergies, be sure to pack their emergency meds as well. For any prescription medicine, have the prescription at the ready (TSA agents may ask to see it).
Sanitizing wipes: Planes are gross, plain and simple. The first thing I do when I get on a plane is wipe down tray tables, seat belts, and basically anything that isn’t covered in fabric. I also use baby sanitizing wipes, such as Babyganics alcohol-free sanitizing wipes, on my kiddos’ hands.
Disposable stick-on placemat covers: These placemat covers are great to keep the germs at bay while your little one is playing and eating on the airplane tray table.
Nursing Cover: (if you use one — because this is a personal choice, and definitely not a must!). Not all babies like covers, but they can be an easy way to get a little privacy in a super tight environment. A travel nursing pillow, like the Nursie, may be helpful for nursing on the plane as well.
Food: Whatever your little ones eat (whether it’s pumped milk, formula or baby food), bring twice as much.
Burp cloths: A few per twin — especially if your babies soak through them.
Plastic baggies or Munchkin Diaper Bag Refills for dirty/wet diapers and/or soiled clothes.
FAA-approved car seats: If you have purchased seats for your under-age-2 babies, you’ll know the car seat is FAA-approved because it will have a sticker affixed to it that reads “this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
NEW baby toys: Toys that your twins have never seen before. They don’t have to be big or elaborate, just something different that will spark their interest.
Here’s some of our fave airplane-friendly toys for the infant crowd:
- Manhattan Toy Soft Activity Book
- Sassy Fish Suction Toy
- Fat Brain Toys Dimpl
- Lamaze Freddy the Firefly
A Little Something Nice
Sure, kids will be kids, than they have the right to travel just like adults. But if you so choose — if it makes you feel less anxious about traveling with your crew — get a few Target or Starbucks gift cards to hand out to the passengers directly next to you.
We did this when our twins were 2. I was so scared about how they would behave on the plane, and I felt like if I gave our neighboring passengers a little gift before take-off, it would reduce my anxiety A TON. It did, and they were so grateful (one actually refused saying, “I’m a grandma! I get it!”). Of course, it’s up to you, and it is SO NOT necessary, but if you think it will help you relax, it may be a worthwhile investment.
Though they’re a little older and you don’t need to lug a bag full of burp cloths, formula and oh so much more, toddlers still need quite a bit to stay entertained on the plane. Here are a couple of suggestions.
To each twin his own carry-on bag. Fill them with toys (ideas below), snacks (looooooootttttts of ‘em), a fully-charged iPad loaded with age-appropriate apps and/or movies (if this is something you have and allow your kids to have), child-friendly/volume-limiting headphones, an empty water bottle (to be filled after you get through security), sanitizing wipes, and whatever else you think will keep your kids busy and happy on the flight.
New Toys. Just like infant twins, toddler twins will be excited (and entertained) by new toys! Some ideas:
- Water Wow by Melissa & Doug
- Finger puppets
- Mess-Free Coloring
- Little figuring toys, like animals and dolls
- Small books
- Mini magnetic drawing boards
- Mini scratch notes
Stock your carry-on bag too. This bag will be your utility belt. Pack it with things like diapers or pull-ups (if your toddlers are still wearing them), an extra set of clothes for everyone, and regular and emergency meds, if need be. Note: you can get chewable Benadryl, Ibuprofen and Tylenol for kids — perfect for taking on airplanes since they aren’t liquid!
Harnesses to keep your little ones secure. If your toddlers are little and you aren’t bringing car seats, you can purchase two sets of CARES Safety Restraints (these are FAA-approved), which will keep them extra secure on the plane. Plus, they may help fight their urge to walk up and down the row a million times (aka keep them contained and keep your sanity). These fit kids who are 1 and older and who weigh 22 to 44 lbs. They come with their own little travel bag and can easily fit inside your or your kids’ carry-ons.
What to Pack for your Destination
Make your life less stressful by creating your pack list ahead of time. For a comprehensive list of what types of items to pack, check out our Best Travel Gear for Infants and Toddlers and Gadgets and Tools for Traveling with Young Kids. Of course you’ll need to pack double what your singleton parent counterparts do because double the kids, double the fun!
Which takes us to our next point: traveling with twins can get heavy really, really quickly. So if you don’t want to travel with too much stuff (like two of everything), then consider borrowing or renting the big items, such as cribs and high chairs, from a local baby gear rental company.
In the same vein, instead of packing a ton of bulky diapers, wipes, pool toys, etc., consider shipping them to your destination. This works well if you’re staying at someone’s home; otherwise, many hotels will receive your packages and hold onto them for you until you arrive. Call the hotel ahead of time to find out if this is an option. If not, you may want to purchase those types of items when you arrive at your destination.
Double Sleeping Arrangements. If your twins aren’t in beds yet, you’ll need two cribs/pack ‘n plays. Many hotels do offer them (at no extra cost – yay!), but call ahead of time — hotels provide baby gear on a first-come-first-serve basis. If this is something you’re worried about, your best bet will be to bring your own travel cribs.
Make sure your room can accommodate the size of your family. When you book, let them know how many people are in your crew (including the kids). If the number of guests exceeds the fire code occupancy limit, you’ll need to book a suite or two adjoining hotel rooms. Fire code may also affect how many cribs or pack ‘n plays you can have in your hotel room; each hotel, and room type, has different regulations, so if you want to ensure you can have two cribs in one room, be sure to call the hotel in advance to find out.
Some things will go wrong, some things will go right, but all in all, do your best to take it all in stride, and have a good time. Your kids will get so excited with all the new experiences, so try to soak it all in. This will be a great change of pace and scenery, and it will give you great opportunities to make new memories and bond a bit more as a family.
And hey, if you can find a trustworthy caregiver at your destination, go out with your partner for a date or some time alone at the beach (now that’s a real vacation!).
Please share YOUR twin travel tips in the comments below!
Happy and safe travels!
~ Marissa, Twins Editor
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