Thursday, January 17, 2013

Travelling on a plane with twin toddlers {who share your seat!}

Months prior to our flight to Singapore (which is 8 hours straight from Brisbane), I did a lot of research via other blogs and spoke with friends who travel with their children. Two common threads came out from those research, go prepared and do not have any expectations.

Here's what we did:

Two Single Strollers
Our twins are confident walkers / runners and despite their competence, they still prefer being carried. A prospect that neither my husband nor I want to entertain especially in an airport.

Therefore, we strapped our twins into their respective strollers until we got to our departure gate. Then, the airline gave us two big plastic bags (for each stroller) to pack them in so that they could check it in for us at oversized baggage.

Be warned that you will not have your strollers when you get off the plane. Therefore, we carried them until we could find complimentary strollers at the airport (very hard to locate) and cajoled them into walking alongside us (very tiring after a flight).

Nappy Change before the flight
Quite obvious. Don't you think?

Secure seats in the bulk head row
Bulk head row seats in Economy Class  (on Emirates) has generous leg room because it is the row that aeroplane bassinets can be attached to the wall. In our case, no bassinets were offered because 11kg is the maximum weight each bassinet will take. Our twins were 13kg and 12kg respectively.

Advantages: Despite not having bassinets, the extra leg room offered the twins a comfortable space to stand when they were tired of sitting on us (we were hot and tired too from them sitting on us). It also gave us the opportunity to stand and stretch while the twins sat on our seats (which they enjoyed, obviously). On our flight to Singapore, we even placed Daniel on the floor for his sleep! (Thank goodness, there was no turbulance on our way there because if there were, we would have to carry him. The same rule applies for babies in bassinets).

Disadvantages: We were unable to store any bags underneath the seats and had to rely on the small wall pockets to cramp as much stuff as we possibly can without them spilling out e.g. zip lock bag of extra dummies, small containers of snacks, zip lock bag of noiseless toys, nappy wipes, sippy bottles, etc. You get the point.

The tray table folds out from the arm rest and there is only a minute allowance between one's body and tray. Hence, do not even attempt having your toddler on your lap when the meal arrives. We had our twins standing on the floor with the tray between us. It was like a dance in quick succession - as I took a sip of water from the container, an empty cup (meant for tea/coffee) would be taken away from one of the  twins, as I took a quick bite of my egg, one of the twins would beckon for some whilst at the same time retrieving a piece of fruit from another container on the tray, as I fed one twin some food from my tray, the other twin would pierce the butter container with his/her teeth, etc. Let's just say, you need to have quick reflexes and as far as possible, do not even think of drinking anything hot because the inevitable will happen.

Dress Comfortably and Cool-y
With active toddlers in tow, one never gets to sit still for too long, even in the seat. There's constantly squirming, climbing, tickling, manipulation, reaching, stretching, pulling, pushing, etc. Therefore, one does get hot and so does the toddler.

The twins wore a cotton t-shirt and a pair of stretchy leggings (yes even Daniel). It was comfortable and did not restrict them. The other added bonus? Much easier for nappy changes in a shoe box of an aeroplane toilet.

I woke my all time comfortable lycra pants and a sleeveless cotton top. Footwear? Fit Flops.

Packing for the plane
With twins in tow, we had 1 backpack on the plane for all of us and in it contained the following:

Generously sized and brightly coloured wet bag:
8 nappies, full pack of nappy wipes, change sheet, a small tub of sudocream.

A smaller sized wet bag:
A change of clothes for the twins + nappy for each. I folded each set of clothes with a nappy in tact and sealed it in zip lock bag and placed it in the wet bag. If there's an emergency, all I have to do is carry this bag and in it will have clothes and nappy.

4 small containers of snacks:
Pick your children's favourites and make sure that they are dry and do not have any sticky - goey - wet filling of any sort. Also steer clear from sugary treats, if possible. (I don't even give my twins any watered down juice). Some of our twins favourite treats on the plane include corn puffs, air popped corn, cruskits, dried apples and dried raisins.

2 sippy bottles of water and 2 milk bottles
Hydration is crucial.

Their favourite sleeping/ play toys:
Limit this to 3 or 4 and ensure that they are noiseless! We brought onboard with us the twins' sleeping animals (Daniel's a small stuffed dog and Charlotte's a small stuffed horse), 2 toy cars (Daniel's favourite - Canadian school bus and London bus), 1 magic scribble board (Charlotte loves scribbling).

This is what happened on the flight:

Flight to Singapore at 2:45am
The twins were generally well-behaved considering having being interrupted from their slumber, bundled into a maxi taxi, queued in line at the check in counter at the airport, scrutinised at immigration, faced with crowds of travellers, etc.

Daniel fell asleep as the plane took off (bless him) and slept for 3 hours. Charlotte struggled a bit and fell asleep after an hour and slept for 3 hours also. Throughout the rest of their waking hours on the plane, they never strayed for us. In fact, they stayed with us the entire time without us having to remind them to do so.

Yes, it was exhausting having to a toddler on each of our laps and thank goodness, they were well-behaved on the whole.

Flight to Brisbane at 3:45pm
We gave them antihistamine (prescribed by a Singaporean GP) prior to the flight and had high hopes (remember: Do not have any expectations as mentioned in the first paragraph) that they would sleep non-stop for 6 hours (says the GP). The reverse happened. They did not sleep a wink. In fact, they were so hyper even without the aid of any sugar!

Oh my! This flight was beyond exhausting. It was funny because we were all so exhausted. Again, the kids really did behave well, considering the circumstance. They did not throw tantrums and stayed closed. Though there was a lot of climbing on us, there was a few walking up and down the isle together in the hope that time may pass quicker, etc. They only cried at 12:45am - 15 minutes prior to touch down into Brisbane. No surprises, they were exhausted. Poor babies!

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