If you’re travelling with young twins or multiples, the key pieces of advice are: be prepared, try to hang on to your sense of humour – and imagine the worst, on the basis that it’s unlikely to be that bad! If you can keep smiling – even if it’s a bedraggled smile – you’ll get through your trip with your sanity intact. And who knows? – it may even end up resembling a holiday
Organisation is everything when travelling with two or more children of the same age. A detailed packing list, for both suitcases and hand luggage, will really keep your stress levels down. There’s no denying that everything x 2 or more does make for a lot of luggage, but try not to overpack – clothes can be washed and nappies bought at the other end.
If you’re looking for minimum stress, driving rather than flying is the obvious winner – you can pile the car high, strap the kids in and keep the healthy snacks flowing. When they get bored and the backseat moaning starts getting to you, set up a dual-screen DVD player on the back of your headrests and enjoy the silence. For more tips on driving with kids, see our Travelling by Car page.
The most successful and budget-friendly holidays – in terms of relaxation for you and fun for the kids – tend to be those taken in a well-equipped gîte or villa, with a large, safe garden. Throw in a paddling pool, nearby swings, and a trip to the coast or local zoo, and your kids will be more than happy. You might even get to read a book. See our editor's favourite favourite family holiday review for inspiration on a gîte holiday in Poitou Charentes in France.
Top Tips: Before You Go
If you’re looking for ideas on where to go, contact the Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA) - for advice on twin-friendly destinations and member discounts. Staying in the UK is the easiest option; otherwise, France and Spain can also be easily reached by ferry and car, while Italy and Greece welcome kids and have plenty of accommodation catering to families, from self-catering villas (see above) to resort hotels with full children’s amenities.
When booking accommodation or hiring a car, remember to pre-book highchairs, cots and car-seats, as some providers may have only one of each.
Find out what help, if any, your travel company, airline or rail company can offer. With many airlines, it’s nothing – so there’s even more reason to pack as lightly as possible.
If flying, phone well ahead to sort seating arrangements – we once found that none of our children were sitting next to us. Note that there can be restrictions on how many children are allowed per row.
If flying long-haul, book child seats if even they’re young enough to sit on your laps – this may be fine when flying short-haul, but having a child on each parent’s lap on a long-haul flight isn’t really an option. If they’re tiny, you may also be carrying on their car seats (which will keep them safely strapped in), which can be a logistical nightmare as trolleys are not allowed beyond certain points. Again, it’s worth pre-checking if airline staff will help you. We once ended up piling the car-seats on one single buggy while I carried one twin and pushed the other in our second buggy. A lightweight double buggy is a better option – you can push it as far as the plane and cabin crew will then stash it for you and have it waiting for you when you disembark.
If you can take a friend, family member, au pair or nanny with you - at least for the journey – the extra pair of hands will prove invaluable.
Top Tips: Getting There
If you’re setting off first thing keep breakfast as plain and dry as possible – crucially, allow no milk. One throwing up child is bad enough when you’re on the road, but two is a real endurance test.
Backpacks with reins, or wrist reins, are a must with twin toddlers – the last thing you need is for one of your children to dash off when you’re juggling passports and cases.
Even with slightly older twins, bring a double buggy for when they run out of steam or you need to contain them, leaving the second parent’s hands free for luggage or any additional children.
Get your hand luggage right – ingrained food, spilt drinks, exploding nappies and vomit (x 2!) can mean you get through outfits fast, and running out of clean clothes or nappies is not something you want to experience. Calculate how many nappies
you will probably need and then add extras for accidents and delays en route.
For older children, their own rucksacks are also a great help, so they can carry their own toys, water bottle and change of clothes.
If you think your kids are unlikely to tuck into airline, ferry or train food, stock up on snacks (brioche, breadsticks and dried fruit are ideal). Don’t forget that kids’ meals on planes need to be pre-booked.
If your children are potty trained but still prone to the odd mishap, put them in pull-ups for the journey – it’s one less thing to go wrong.
Carry a supply of rubbish bags for flying banana skins as well as dirty clothes and nappies.
A portable DVD player or tablet with two headphone sockets and a good selection of favourite films is definitely worth the extra weight, particularly on trains and for killing time before or between flights.
Find out if there is an airport play area and tire your children out before they get on the flight. Avoid getting on the plane too early, making your journey in a confined space that much longer.
Wherever possible, separate twins. An adult sitting between them will prevent squabbling and make them more likely to nod off rather than stay awake winding each other up.
A good selection of cheap new, toys will buy you a surprising amount of down time and will stop kids trying to run up and down plane or train aisles. Wrap them up (newspaper will do), to keep them further occupied – and don’t forget to get two of everything! Stick to sturdy, mess-free toys such as mini crayons and colouring books,stickers, wonder pens and plastic animals.
See also our tips page on train travel with kids, ferry travel with kids, and travelling with young kids – plus features and blogs by our writer Dea Birkett, another mother to twins.
By Kate Mikhail