Traveling with Twins

Traveling with Twins

air travel with twins
Air Travel with Twins. Digital Vision / Getty Images

Air travel is certainly one of the fastest ways to get from one destination to another. But it can also be one of the most stressful, especially if you're a family with young twins or other multiples. Flying with twins isn't impossible, and can even be pleasant, with some advance planning and preparation. If you are considering flying with your twins, whether for a vacation, business trip, family event, or other reasons, there are several things to consider. Use these guidelines to make your travel with twins as smooth as possible. 

Choosing a Flight When You're Traveling with Twins

Choosing a flight for twins
Which flight is best when traveling with twins?. Martin Barraud/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Is there an ideal time to fly when you're traveling with twins? Probably not, but there are some strategies that you can employ to minimize delays in travel and meltdowns with your multiples.

Try to arrange to travel at non-peak times, avoiding holidays, weekends, and other busy travel times. Consider your twins' schedules: When are they most rested and content? When are they crankiest? Some families find that flying late at night or overnight works best, because the twins are more likely to sleep during the flight.

When you're booking your flight, pay attention to the flight's itineraries and details. Direct flights may stop along the way, even if you don't have to change planes. Nonstop flights may be a simpler option. Don't rule out commuter flights. Although the planes are less roomy, there are fewer passengers to contend with.

As much as possible, book EARLY -- as far in advance as possible based on your travel plans You'll have more flexibility with flight times and better seat selection.

Do You Need to Pay for Seats for Twins?

You don't have to buy a seat for children under two. They can travel as "lap babies" on most airlines. Certainly this is the most cost-effective way to travel. But it may not necessarily be the best. There are advantages to buying a seat for each twin. Most importantly, it is safer for children to fly in their own seat, strapped into an FAA-approved car seat. If you do not buy a seat for each child, you are not guaranteed that there will be an available seat for them. Yes, there may be. But there are no guarantees. Financial strains mean that airlines fly fewer -- but fuller -- flights these days. Don't count on having a seat for your children unless you buy one.

Many airlines do offer discounted fares for children and that can provide some savings. But policies vary, so be sure to confirm the information with your airline before purchasing tickets.

Choosing Seats on the Plane When Flying with Twins

traveling with twins
Families with twins may have to split up during the flight. Digital Vision/Getty Images

Where you sit on the can make or break a flight. If you have the ability to choose your seats in advance, take advantage of it. But keep some things in mind. When traveling with babies, you may be restricted in where you can sit. If you are are two adults traveling with two or more babies, you may not be able to sit together.

Even if you buy a seat for each child, airplane configurations may dictate only one child per row. Be aware that your family may have to split up, depending on the seating configuration and safety features of your plane. In many models, there is only one extra oxygen mask per row, meaning that only one parent with a lap baby can be seated in each row. Even if you buy a seat for both babies, many airlines require that infant carrier or car seats can be situated only in window seats. Face the facts: parents of twins may have to split up during the flight.

Don't despair; it's actually easier this way. Divide and conquer is often the best approach with twins anyway! Just be adequately prepared for the separation by packing separate supplies for each parent.

If your airline allows you to select seats in advance, choose seats that allow you to be near each other, either across the aisle or in adjacent rows. Bulkhead seats offer more space, but be aware that they don't have storage under the seats and that all your bags will have to be stored in the overhead compartment.

What Should We Pack When Traveling with Twins?

Traveling with Twins
Traveling with Twins. Cultura RM/Emma Kim/Getty Images

Flying with twins means juggling babies and bags in the airport. Here are some tricks for packing a carryon kit that won't leave you in a lurch, but still fits under the seat on the plane.

First, check with your airline about their baggage policies. Some airlines charge extra for checked bags while others charge for carry ons. I prefer to check bags when traveling with twins and carry on only what is needed while in transit, as well as any things that would be necessary in case of lost of delayed luggage. Check the sizes of your bags and suitcases to ensure they'll be accepted. Because restrictions on carry-on items change often, it's important to consult an official source or your airline before traveling. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) maintains this page detailing permissible and prohibited items.

Remember to pack light -- you'll have your hands full enough already!

Packing a Carryon

Make a list of the things you would normally use during the time frame of your flight:

  • diapers
  • bottles/formula (check TSA regulations)
  • drinks (check TSA regulations)
  • food
  • comfort items
  • medicines

Then plan for emergencies.

  • Extra outfits for each child (and a change of clothes for the parents too!)
  • Wet rag or wipes for cleaning up messes
  • Teething rings
  • Diaper changing pad and supplies
  • Snacks
  • Toys
  • Gallon-size zip top plastic bags for containing messes
  • Medicine -- always pack all prescriptions and medications in your carry on!

Don't forget travel documents, identification and all proper paperwork for every member of the family.

Make sure each parent has a "supply kit" in case you have to split up. One easy way to do that is to pack two smaller bags within a larger carryon. On the plane, you can each take a small bag to put under the seat, while the large bag goes overhead. Yet, everything is consolidated before and after the flight so that you're not juggling too many bags.

What to Pack in Checked Bags

It's simply impossible to replicate everything you have at home at your destination. And it's unnecessary. Focus on the priorities. Plan to buy anything consumable or disposable at your destination: diapers, wipes, formulas, baby food, etc. (except what you are carrying with you for use during travel.) Try to arrange to have someone at your destination purchase the necessary items so they're ready when you arrive. If these things simply aren't available where you're going, consider shipping a box of them prior to your departure so that they're waiting for you on arrival.

Remember to pack these when traveling with twins:

  • Clothing suitable for the weather conditions of your destination
  • A night light
  • Any small gadgets that will help you childproof your destination (outlet plugs, cabinet locks, etc.)
  • Comfort items for your twins (familiar blanket, pillow, toy)
  • Small toys and equipment that you will use on a daily basis
  • Collapsible high chairs or booster seats that can easily pack in a suitcase

A pack-n-play or portable crib can be checked as luggage (if your twins are small enough, they can share; if not, you can bring one and buy/borrow one at your destination.)

Strollers and Car Seats

If you are purchasing seats for your twins, you will want to use an approved car seat, and you will carry them on the plane with you. If you are traveling with your twins as lap babies, you can check your seats as baggage so that you will have them at your destination. If you are renting a car at your destination, you may be able to include car seats with your rental. Be sure to check with your rental car agency, though, to ensure that they have multiple car seats available for your multiples!

Double strollers can usually be gate checked as you board your flight. This means that you can use it right up until you board the plane, and that it will be waiting for you as you leave the plane. However, policies vary from airline to airline and from flight to flight, so be sure to confirm with them. If you do have to check your stroller, ask the airline if it counts against your checked baggage tally to avoid paying excess charges. Also, package it securely to avoid damage. Consider investing in a sturdy bag or tote designed to protect it, or pack it up in a box. Make sure latches are secure so that it doesn't come open. If you have more than one stroller, choose your smallest, most lightweight model, such as a lightweight umbrella stroller.

Preparing to Board the Plane When Traveling with Twins

Twins playing in airport
Navigating the airport when traveling with twins. Mehmed Zelkovic/Moment Open/Getty Images

In some cases, travelers spend as much time in the airport as they do actually in-flight. Avoid hassles and frustration while you're waiting at the airport with these guidelines.

First, give yourself plenty of time. Arrive early. Use the time to make sure everyone is fed and changed, if necessary. Keep the children in a double stroller, if they're comfortable in it, or find a quiet place where they can wander around without getting too far away from you.
Check with your airline about identification policies.

It may be necessary for both adults to be present at the check-in counter and show their own ID. You may even be required to produce proper identification for your children. If both parents are not traveling together, you may be required to provide additional paperwork, especially if you are traveling internationally. Be sure to check with your airline before you travel to avoid any surprises.

When you go through security, be aware that you will most likely have to remove twins from their stroller or carriers and send the equipment through the metal detectors separately. In general, the personnel will be very helpful in guiding you through, but it may be a bit tricky as you try to manage babies, equipment and bags, especially if you are required to attend additional security clearance. Be patient, remain calm, and explain your needs politely. The security policies are in place for your protection, after all.

Boarding the Plane

Perhaps the trickiest portion of your trip will be actually boarding the plane and getting settled in your seats. Juggling carry-ons, equipment, and babies in confined quarters is never easy. But there are some ways to make it go smoothly.

If possible, take advantage of the pre-board option. Most airlines provide an opportunity for families with small children to board the plane ahead of time. If you do not have assigned seating, this is your chance to pick out convenient seating. There is no rule that says your entire party has to board early. Let one parent go on early, carrying the bags (and car seats if necessary) and getting the seats set up, while the other remains at the gate with the children.
If you are able to gate check your stroller, keep your twins seated in it as you enter the jetway. You can't roll them straight onto the plane, but you should be able to go right up to the door, then leave your stroller to be checked. It should be waiting for you when you land. Again, if you can, have one parent stay seated with the children while the other gets the stroller ready and manages the bags.

Have a Nice Flight

have a nice flight
Have a nice flight!. Moment Mobile / Getty Images

Most parents' biggest concern about flying with young multiples is keeping them comfortable and quiet during the trip. The most common factor that causes babies to cry in flight is ear pain. Changes in cabin pressure causes discomfort to tiny ears. Check with your pediatrician before you depart for recommendations to help your twins be more comfortable during the flight. Giving them something to drink -- breastmilk, a bottle, a sippy cup or juice box -- during takeoff and landing helps avoid uncomfortable ear pressure.

Hunger is another factor that causes distress. Try to conform to your twins' usual feeding schedule as much as possible. Pack light snacks that are appropriate for their age. Cheerios, pretzels, crackers and fruit roll ups don't make too much mess. If a meal is served during your flight, you can pre-order childrens' meals to ensure that the food is kid-friendly.

Diaper Changes

And of course, dirty diapers can be the cause of crying. Changing diapers in-flight can be tricky. Some larger planes have facilities in the lavatory. On smaller planes, it may be easier to do it in the seat, as long as you are courteous about other passengers. This is a good time to enlist the help of flight attendants, who may be able to suggest the best option. Many parents recommend putting toddlers in pull ups rather than diapers, to make changes easier.


If your twins are old enough, you'll need to arm yourself with entertainment ammunition. Choose your weapons carefully! Avoid things that are irretrievable, breakable, irreplaceable or contain multiple pieces. No matter what it is, pack two! Whatever one has, the other twin will want as well. Buy a few new toys just for the trip; something new will hold their attention longer. Consider travel Magna Doodle (Buy at or other non-marking art toys rather than crayons or markers to reduce mess.
Don't overdo it. Save some treats for the return flight, if necessary. In many cases, the excitement of a new experience will keep little ones entertained for a good portion of the flight.

Extra Help

Things will go wrong while you're traveling. These strategies will help you out in a pinch. Help is available in airports and on planes; you just have to know how to ask.

I like to believe that in general, the world is a good place and that most people are nice. Twins naturally generate attention and affection from the public. If you get desperate and really need an extra hand, you'll find it. Don't expect people to offer, however. ASK. Most people, when asked politely and with a smile, are more than glad to help out. Look for people who return your smile and seem interested in your twins, and direct your requests at them.  Make specific and simple requests, and you'll likely find cooperation.

In my experience traveling with young twins, our family found the airline personnel to be unfailingly generous with help -- from carrying bags to entertaining the babies. But I fully recognize that the scope of their job is much more important and demanding and don't expect that kind of treatment. There are some helpful options that might make your travel easier.

  • Ask the airline if your flight can be met, so that you'll have assistance getting to the baggage claim or to another gate. If personnel and equipment are available, you'll be transported through the airport via electric cart. Policies differ by airline and airport, so call ahead to make arrangements.
  • Ask the airline if someone at your arrival destination can meet the flight at the gate. Security restrictions prohibit anyone without a boarding pass from going through security, but some airlines may accommodate this special request.

Finally, keep perspective. If things go wrong -- that is, one or both of your twins offend your fellow travelers by crying, smelling, making faces, or in general being out of control -- remember that you will likely never see them again. (Your fellow travelers that is, not your twins!) Who cares? Most people are understanding. Many are parents too. And everyone on that plane was a baby themselves at one time! Be gracious to the kind people, forget about the rude ones. Have a nice trip!

Continue Reading