This summer I crossed off something I had no idea was on my parenting bucket list: Cross-Atlantic traveling with eighteen-month-old twins.
First off, to alleviate your fears, this tale has a happy ending; we all survived. As this was our first major trip with our matched set, most of the preparation was spent wondering, researching and purchasing things we needed. Or, in some rare cases, thought we needed.
Do we bring our car seats? Do we rent two? How many long-sleeved shirts? Short-sleeved? Socks? You get the idea. We ended up buying two single umbrella strollers as schlepping our double twin stroller around Europe and through airports did not carry much appeal. They are old enough now that they can easily fit in a single stroller and they probably enjoy them much more as their field of vision is significantly improved from the shared one.
After packing, unpacking and repacking we ended up with a mish-mash selection of clothes and thought to ourselves if there's anything we need we can always buy over there. So off we went for two weeks with about six pairs of pants (!), a couple of pairs of shorts approximately 38579238 shirts and nearly as many socks. We did have to pick up a couple of pairs along our trip but nothing too extravagant. Now that we had the basics covered our planning moved from necessities to perhaps the more worrisome: in-flight entertainment.
The little men are too young to focus on movies and TV just yet. Swiping the screen on the seat-back TV proved enthralling for great lengths, however! We brought books and quiet, soft toys...nothing that made noise (out of respect to our fellow passengers (and us!) but things only last so long with their attention span. But what surprised me the most, was how happy they were simply to explore their surroundings. Looking out the window while waiting for take-off, waving to their neighbours behind us, in front and beside us. Numerous times. Smiling and eventually flirting with the lovely hostesses. It wasn't all blissful, only minor meltdowns...which I found rather surprising by the lack of sleep that they had, and I so desperately wanted!
After the first two days of us all adjusting to the time change, we were amazed by how resilient they were. Completely abandoning their usual routine, napping whilst on the road and eating at different times and different types of food, I give them two big thumbs up.
During our travels I learned a few tips that I hope to remember for next time and pass on to all who are interested:
1. Take all the napkins. Always.
Every time you stop for a snack, meal, potty break, whatever. If there are napkins, clean them out. You'll never know when they will be needed, but they will be needed. I guarantee it. And rather than curse yourself for not having anything, you'll thank yourself later.
2. Take every opportunity to use the bathroom.
Your mother instilled this in you when you were younger, turns out she was right. And still is.
3. Grab all the snacks.
The airline we flew with included helpful baby meals. A banana, milk and a pouch of pureed baby food. Yes, our boys are a little old for the puree's but guess what comes in super handy when they have a melt-down because they're hangry and we ran out of snacks. That pouch can be whipped out quite quickly and solve all the worlds problems.
Finally, a quick shout out to my mom who was able to come with us on this trip. With two little people and all the accompanying gear, it would have been physically impossible at some points without an extra pair of hands. So to our part-time sherpa, baby-carrier, baby-whisperer and generally incredibly helpful lady, we salute you. Thank you!