I never sleep well the night before I fly. This started before I had my twins but has been compounded by the anxiety I feel anticipating a day stuck in a small metal canister at 35,000 feet with two bouncing-ball three year-olds.
My husband and I are expats, so travelling has always been a part of our life together. At the tender age of three our children have been to four continents already, and we have endured trips that take longer than a day.
We flew for the first time when they were four months old, and as I write this I am flipping back and forth between my spreadsheet packing list for another upcoming trip involving me, them and a long-haul flight.
I’ve had strangers hold babies, share food and toys, and even race down the jetway with our passports.
However, I can confidently say that the pre-flight jitters are always worse than the experience itself (except maybe for the time one of my twins vomited and my husband hadn’t heeded my advice and brought a spare set of clothes…). I chalk this up to three things which I have summed up in a handy acronym which you’ll have no trouble remembering: PCR.
Prepare: I’m sure nobody needs to be told to leave lots of time at the airport. Between the Covid tests and forms, queues, the last minute nappy changes and moving small feet past lots of interesting things to look at, airports take time. For us, the security checkpoint is always particularly time-consuming. Removing shoes, separating liquids and electronics and folding buggies is bad enough, but trying to get a toddler to put their bunny in the X-ray machine has almost sunk this particular ship more than once. My advice is to practise things you haven’t done before a couple of times in advance of the day, whether that is tandem feeding in an economy seat (it can be done!) or folding your new buggy.
Car hire: Possibly my least favourite moment of every trip involves standing in a hot and crowded parking garage with tired, cranky kids (not feeling so great ourselves) trying to install two unfamiliar car seats in an unfamiliar car. This is because, for insurance purposes, most car hire companies insist that you install the car seats yourself. It inevitably ends in tears with the odd threat of divorce thrown in. My top tip: get the specific make and model of both the car and car seats in advance and watch the installation videos on YouTube before you go.
Relax: Kids will be kids and most people I’ve encountered while travelling with my twins are incredibly helpful and accommodating. I’ve had strangers hold babies, share food and toys, and even race down the jetway with our passports(!). Your kids will kick the seat, they will make noise and a mess and you will be tired. But your holiday memories will be worth it.
By Shauna Leven, Twins Trust CEO