The boys are now 21 months old and as of now, they have traveled twice by airplane: to Miami at 6 months, and to Los Angeles at 10 months. I will be talking mostly about our travel to Miami. This is a long one so grab your hot drinks and snacks…
In February 2016, the boys were almost 6 months old, and that was when we decided to go to Miami FL for 5 days. My parents were already there for vacation and even though they had plans of their own while there, we decided to meet up with them and escape the dreadful Canadian winter. Why the eff not? After the sale of our condo and settling into our new place, we felt that we deserved some time away. It worked out perfectly as G was approved for parental leave in February 2016 (he was off for 6 months before going back to work in September 2016), and it was just before the busy season at my office. I already knew that our Miami trip would not be a vacation, but rather doing the same thing in a different environment. I still consider that a break though. That is how I relax haha. Even with my parents already in Miami, G and I were still practically on our own with the boys for the most part.
Anyway, air traveling with infants is not for the faint of the heart. I would never know what it’s like to have a single baby, but with twins, I can say that this was quite the feat. As much research as I did prior to our departure date, and phone calls with Air Canada, mapping out the airport gates for both YYZ and FLL, I tried to be as flexible as I can because I already anticipated the airport hiccups. However, without the internet, I would have lost it.
This is what we brought with us:
- 2 diaper bags as carry on; one for G and one for me. We had to sit in separate rows on the plane as it was one lap child per row (because there is only 1 extra oxygen mask per row). In the event we have to change diapers on board, G and I didn’t want to bother each other for stuff. In the diaper bags we had:
- One diaper for each child, for each hour we traveled (airport and airplane)…so we had about 8 each bag
- Necessary diaper changing toiletries (tiny sized though)
- Passports, wallets, phones, chargers
- Mixie Bottles!! For formula. I’m not gonna explain why because this reason can be an entire separate blog post but these were SO HANDY!! We had 4 of these. YouTube it.
- Pre Measured Formula container in case the Mixies/me breastfeeding were not enough. This wasn’t the best, but it came in a gift package so we used it.
- 1 extra outfit for everyone: in case luggages are lost, and also for any mishaps (leaks, spit up)
- Plastic bags: because of the above reason
- Deodorant: because you will work up a sweat, even if it’s -20 degrees celsius outside
- SNACKS! for G and Me. You can’t be HANGRY while traveling. Seriously.
- 2 single fold-able umbrella strollers. We bought the Summer Infant 3D Flip stroller. The boys didn’t know how to sit up on their own yet, so the rear-facing feature on this stroller was very convenient. It was nice to have in case we wanted to change their diapers in there as opposed to in the public washroom. It’s lightweight, folds nicely and reasonable priced. We still use it today when we go to really busy places.
- 2 infant carriers. We got cheap ones from Amazon, because there was no way I was going to go broke getting the top of the line carriers. With security checks, lines and customs, if you can, just wear your baby.
- 2 infant car seats. These were free to check in with Air Canada. We actually flew to Fort Lauderdale and drove down to South Beach as it only took 45 minutes. It was more cost effective than flying from Toronto to Miami. Anyhow, with that we rented an SUV for the duration of our trip. I did not trust the car seats that the rental car companies had so we brought ours. I was so glad we did because upon arrival to Hertz at FLL, the car seats they had were pretty mangy.
- 2 luggages to check in. One for G and my stuff. The other one was for baby stuff (formula). As soon as we got the rental car, we made a dash to the local Target to pick up diapers, nursery water for formula mixing, teething gel (the boys just started teething before the trip. yay.), and snacks. Obviously snacks.
Here were some tips I found helpful:
- Make sure your accommodations have laundry machines or laundry service: With all the crap we had to lug around , we tried to pack as light as we can for clothes. In our 5 day trip, we packed enough clothes for 2 days. It still took up 2 luggages we had to check in
- Check your baggage: I know it sounds expensive, but with all the crap we had to carry, pay the damn baggage fee. Mind you, we are not rich, but will pay for things if it’s worth it to make life easier.
- When you book your airline tickets, it’s worth it to pre-select your seating. Choose a seat near the front, well, behind business class of course, unless you can swing it to sit in business class. The dream.
- Board the plane last. I know the airline gate pages people with small children to board right after the priority flyers, but the less amount of time in the plane, the better. Babies do not like to be confined, at least mine don’t. You won’t be in anyone’s way if you’re one of the last one’s to board.
- Get help from those porters at the airport with your bags. Do it! Pay the $10 plus tip.
- If you can travel with family members or friends you trust, do it. When we went to California when the boys were 10 months, we had my in-laws and G’s sister and her boyfriend with us. So helpful, even with all our gear! Especially at 10 months, the boys were super squirmy and not having it on the plane. So passing them around was nice. Thanks fam!
- However early you think you need to be at the airport, add an hour. With security check and customs, you need the extra time. This is why we got the NEXUS passes after the California trip. NEXUS passes are CLUTCH! (we do some cross border shopping every now and then, so skipping the 30 cars in line every time was dope).
One thing I found stressful: Security checkpoints (not customs). I understand the level of security needed to make everything and everyone safe, however I wish they wouldn’t ask us to fold up the strollers every time, especially since we were wearing the boys with the carriers. I would rather they take us aside and pat us down, use metal detectors and go through our bags. Oh yea, if you are bringing formula, they will test it with pH looking strips.
Moving forward: After our California trip in July 2016, G and I decided to postpone all air travel until the boys are at least 3 years old. We definitely missed out a full year of them traveling on the plane for “free” (it’s free for 2 and under), but would find it much easier if the boys had their own seat on a plane. Even with help, it was tough with the boys being squirmy and all. In the meantime, we plan to do quite a bit of road trips, so I’ll blog about that when the time comes (ie NYC this September 2017). Any road trip tips for traveling with toddlers are welcome. For trips lasting longer than 10 hours? Leave me some suggestions. Thanks!
Also, for our Miami Highlights picture post, you can find it here.
Til next post!