During the past 30 days, our 18-month-old twins have spent 55 hours in flight, spanning 3 big trips; 28 hours from Saigon to Boston, 11 hours from Boston to Tel Aviv, and 15 hours from Tel Aviv to Saigon. In seven weeks, we will do it all over again. Are we crazy? Maybe. But, candidly, this seemingly crazy travel was far smoother than we could have ever expected.
On our first 28-hour flight, we planned to fly with our nanny, so I had hoped that the ratio of 3 adults to 2 babies would work in our favor. Nonetheless, I was still intimidated by the prospect of spending 28 hours with my rambunctious girls on the plane. Then hours before the flight, our nanny fell victim to an unrelenting stomach bug and my husband was suffering from complications provoked by an earlier jelly fish attack. Despite the unforeseen challenges, the kids slept for almost the entire duration of the flight and the crew was very helpful.
What follows is a breakdown of how we prepared, as well as a few tips and tricks.
We purchased one extra seat for the twins and reserved one bassinet. The girls are a little big for the bassinet, but it works out really well when they fall asleep (we can’t put them in until they are sleeping). We always try to book the bulkhead, two aisle seats, and two children’s meals, and almost always gate check our stroller so that we can use it until we step onto the plane. We also always book night flights and try to ensure the kids sleep well the night before and take a good nap the day of. We want them to be tired when we get on the plane but not cranky.
The key is finding the just right balance where you have everything you need without feeling weighed down. Words we live by: Less is more. Here’s what we typically bring on our flights and how we prepare:
- We feed the kids a good dinner before the flight, but pack plenty of (non-messy) snacks for the plane, including:
- Peanut butter sandwiches (for the parents, too!)
- Sliced cucumber
- Whole avocados
- Granola bars
- For clothes, we put them in onesies with socks and shoes, not the footie PJ’s. We want them to walk around before the flight (get all of their energy out – in fact, the gate is a great place to fun around because there’s not too much trouble they can get in) and don’t want the bottom of their onesies to get too dirty. We also bring their sleep sacks and put them on about 1 hour into the flight. In addition, we bring only 2 changes of clothes (for each baby). One in case they get their PJ’s dirty, and an outfit to change them into shortly before landing so we can attempt to make them look clean and refreshed (ha).
- We pack about 8 diapers for the two kids and 2 packs of wipes.
- We pack each child a small toy bag – each has the same toys because god forbid one kid had a toy that the other doesn’t.
- We pack two blankets and two swaddles that we can use on the seats/floor/wherever
- We always bring our handy Monkey Mat
- 2 carriers, Ergo (all position 360) and Becco (Gemini)
- Lots of books (though airplane magazines work great)
When you get on the plane:
- Always pre-board
- We usually bring our double stroller the gate and wear the babies in a carrier onto the plane.
- Once you get on board, have someone hold your baby and get organized. You want to have the essentials under your feet and the rest in the overhead compartment. I plan this out before when I’m packing the carryons. I put the essentials in the diaper bag and then have a second bag with back up supplies that I put in the overhead compartment.
- I always put a blanket on the seat where my kids will be, just to help keep some of the germs away.
- Wipe down the area around your seat, the belt, the buttons, the arm rest and the tray table.
- Don’t be too worried about the people around you – it’s quite loud on the plane and even if your child cries the whole time, you’ll never see them again!
- Have milk, water or snacks handy for takeoff and landing, as this will help with the pressure on their little ears.
- Bring 2 or 3 plastic shopping bags for trash and/or to put dirty clothes in.
- Buy bottled water before boarding but also bring a water bottle and have the flight attendants fill it up – staying hydrated is important.
- Utilize tissues (for ripping and playing), cups and airplane magazines.
Most importantly, try and relax and don’t let your anxiety get the best of you. The most exciting adventures happen when you step out of your comfort zone and explore the world around you.