Wednesday 25 May 2011

Twins On A Plane

That's the film they really should have made. 

We are due to fly to Australia in about two weeks. Fifteen-ish days. 360 hours, not that I'm counting, not that I'm absolutely horrified by the prospect.  I'm looking forward to being there, of course, I'm just really, really dreading going. At the moment I'm spending all my non-existent spare time running around in ever-decreasing circles, trying to work out how we will manage two large, not-really-verbal lap children for twenty four hours. I'm sort of wishing we had shelled out the additional thousand or so pounds to get seats for them, which shows just how irrational I am becoming about the whole thing. 

We have pre-booked bassinet seats, although the bassinets won't really be large enough for our almost-two-year-olds to sleep in them. We have got a prescription for the UK equivalent of Benadryl, so that should help when we just can't stand it anymore if they are having difficulty sleeping draped over our shoulders. (Yes, I am an unapologetic fan of drugging children when appropriate, although this is the first time we will have actually tried sedating them. On really bad days, if I want myself to feel a bit better when they are sick and super-cranky, I close my eyes and imagine that I'm living in ye olden times,  before magical pink syrup was invented.  Then I open my eyes and say to myself Surprise! It's 2011! and go to the medicine cabinet and nothing seems quite so bad). 

But even I do not plan on drugging them for the entire trip. So, this is my plea for travelling tips.Our two are exceptionally adorable, but frankly not especially advanced for their age, so they aren't really at the sedentary-focused-imaginative-play stage yet. Colouring holds no interest for them.  They are at an age where they want to be doing. Their favourite toys right now are miniature strollers - they love to tear around the house pushing their animals and dolls. It's very cute, but it's not going to be an option on an aircraft. We know about buying lots of cheap small toys and pulling them out of my bag every hour or so. Well, in theory. In practice, we're not quite sure exactly what sort of toys to buy, since most small toys look like have been specifically designed to fit exactly into a toddler's windpipe. 

Ideas?  Seriously, we are going to need all the help we can get. 


  1. Matchbox cars and various finger treats. On our last flight to Uganda people just let their 2-3 year olds run the plane......LOL. SO there is always that : )

  2. Lots of rolls of scotch tape - pull it off, stick it on things, eat it, it provides numerous options. And maybe test the benadryl before hand? We tried it on a plane with our son for the first time and it backfired supremly - picture sadly oversized 10 month old kicking the back of the seat like a maniac...


  3. I'm a veteran of many UK to US flights with two toddlers (and last summer I did it alone with a two and four year old) my recommendations are: test the benadryl first! It may have the opposite effect. And playdough, stickers, small weird toys they've never seen (if yours don't put everything in their mouths) I would also say bring loads and loads of wipes and a change of clothes for you and your husband as both of mine threw up on me when they flew and I didn't have any extra clothes! Also carrier bags to clean up around your seat when you need to. Don't bring any little toys that will roll off the tray table easily as it is so hard to cram yourself between the seats looking for lost toys. Plastic tea sets work too. Love the sticky tape idea! Ohhhh I don't envy you.
    One of my best friends just flew from Sidney to Hawaii with a three and one year old- I will email her and ask her advice as well.
    Good luck!!!!!!!!!
    Amy xxx

  4. My sister would be the expert on this, as she regularly makes the US/UK flight with two little ones. I really, really hate flying so I don't envy you at all! Good luck--and hope it's an amazing trip. Post lots of pics!

  5. Guess my last comment didn't really make sense--my sister is Amy, who posted right before I did!--Molly

  6. I say skip the toys. Pack a bag full of stuff kids aren't normally allowed to touch ... cell phones (maybe old ones that don't work anymore), remote controls, blow dryer, maybe you know someone who has an old broken laptop? Kids that age always seem to be entertained for long periods of time with things they are not supposed to play with.

    Good luck!

  7. tons of snacks, portable DVD player, maybe an ipad for them to play little games on?

  8. I am going to KILL blogger - I just typed you a lovely comment (of course didn't save) and it ate it!

    Anyway, go read - Leah did a post for me about travelling because she's done tons of trips with her baby and tween.

    Then, we did the buying them new things bit and our kids were NOT in the LEAST bit interested. They want to play with stuff they're not allowed - airplane mags, airplane food, my phone, book, etc. Also, our two were naughtier when we were all on the same row.... next time I'm purposefully asking them to separate us.

    If I were you, I'd pray LOTS before and during :)

    Is there a layover somewhere or is the 24 hours continuous? Maybe in Singapore??? I love Singapore!

  9. Oh dear Claudia. I've been going back and forth with mine since planes were invented practically (seriously) and I hate to share with you but this is the worst age. All they want to do is be up and toddling around. You can't reason with them, you can't bribe them, you can't talk sense into them....oh hon. Are they at least night flights? That will help.

    But your saving grace is their cuteness. People will forgive a whole hell of a lot of a cute baby. Go for it, dress 'em up as cute as you can and milk it for all it's worth. Pack the snacks for them and take advantage of the free wine on international flights for yourself. It helps you keep your sense of humor.

    Hey, if I can make it home from China with a toddler who didn't want to be touched--at all-- you can make it home with two cuties. ;-)

    Good luck. And remember, it'll be worth it!

  10. One of our kids freaks out on Benadryl and in the confines of a seatbelt on an airplane went batshit crazy before finally crashing. Instead, use a quarter of a Dramamine.

    Also - snacks. We bring M+Ms bc you can dole them out one at a time and the kids wait patiently since they never get them otherwise. Also good for bribery to get in the seatbelts.

    And I love the idea of skipping the toys. That's never worked for us. My son on his own brings along old electronic equipment and cords and stays busy forever.

  11. I have a lot of ideas about this and my daughter was 2 (give or take) when we came home from Ethiopia with her. Do you have an ipod Touch? Amazing!!! If you don't have one and you've ever considered getting one, I'd suggest it. Yes to the DVD player. Do they like "lift the flap" books? Fisher Price makes board book style ones with TONS of flaps that my kids love. I still get them out when we travel. Stickers are good too. And I would bring with a lifetime supply of their favorite snacks. My kids are up so I have to go, but good luck! Oh, and I suggest (ahem) melatonin instead of benadryl. Just a thought. :)

  12. Do you have an equivalent of "Dollar Stores" in the UK? Before we fly to Australia I always go to the "everything is a dollar" store and buy a bunch of crappy toys and crayons and anything else that looks like it might hold their attention for more than 10 seconds. And I buy it ALL. And then if we lose it or it gets left on the plane... who cares? It only cost $1!!! (if you don't have "One Pound Shops" I'm sorry for this useless tip!)

  13. double check the benedryl. Although it makes mine drowsy- the after effect is like a super dose of steriods and... no one needs that on a plane or vacation.

  14. Remember when my little family was Thailand bound? We'd prepared ourselves for a 23 hour flight, but ended up getting delayed all over the place. Our flight lasted 43 hours. 43 HOURS I SAY!!! WITH A TWO YEAR OLD! (though, she's only one kid, not twins....)

    But still. It wasn't really that bad. The airline will give you some complimentary kid toys/stuff that were more fascinating to DD than anything I'd packed for her.

    We did a test run of benadryl at the house to make sure she's not one of those kids that gets hyper if she takes it. We brought the benadryl in our carry on just in case she was Super Freaky on the flights, but we never used it.

    Bringing bandaids to stick onto things is highly recommended. I don't know why that's so much fun for kids.

    I lay money that it will be fine. In fact, it will be more than fine. With us, I think our 43 hour ordeal was easier because DD was with us. She forced us to persevere. :)

  15. These are such, such, SUCH helpful tips. THANK YOU! I've been reading them out to J and he is almost (ALMOST) ready to agree that me having a blog is actually pretty useful.

    I had a tip today from another friend about buying kids' magazines with stickers in them. Anybody had luck with that kind of thing with littlies?

  16. My kids had trouble and still do sometimes actually getting stickers off of the paper, but those bright colored office labels were a lot easier.

    Two more thoughts: OI know you said that your kids don't like to color, but you might want to check out Crayola Color Wonder stuff. Seeing the color appear might be interesting to them.

    Last: I'd check out they have very very cool stuff for kids and a lot of travel stuff too. My kids always like the stuff I've gotten from there.

  17. Oh mate, good luck. I've got no experience with this but can I suggest lots of light layers if you're coming to the southern states? It's COLD here in Melbourne at the moment, especially in the mornings though it shouldn't be too frosty if you're staying in the city. Hope you have a great trip. :)

  18. Hi Sassy, it's Brisbane, fortunately! (Wouldn't be so fortunate if it was January, but in June BNE is definitely the place to be!)

    Jamey, I've just had to click away from that site because the stuff is VERY COOL but it's too late for me to order anything internationally. I totally want those markers, though - they aren't available here (I don't think) but I should get some shipped for after we get home - brilliant idea.

  19. I'll share the best advice I ever got (and it was a child psychologist) regarding flying with a toddler. Of course, I got this advice AFTER a 12 hour nightmare flight with my son. The advice was this..."You know your child best. Do what you know works with your child on the flight and DON'T worry about the other passengers. They don't know your child but they will be quick to act like they do. Parents often escalate problems on planes in an attempt to please the other passengers. Don't do that. Ignore them. Deal with your child the best you know how because you're the only one equipped to do so, not the angry lady in the seat in front of you!"

  20. It's been interesting reading all the good advice here! Our extremely active little guy is 22 months and has been on 4 flights since coming home. He is a HANDFUL. I try to book red eyes now so that he will sleep. But there is no silver bullet, especially during awake time. Several Ziplocs with several different types of snacks, some familiar, some new have been somewhat effective. Solid sleep for Mom and Dad before the flight is important. Containing the children will take a week's worth of energy. That last comment from Shannon is golden. After working our tails off to contain our son on a 5 hour flight from California, the lady infront of us went off on the flight attendant at the end. There was nothing we could do. We apologized but we were not going to squash the spirit of our lively boy for a grumpy passenger. Wouldn't you know it we ran into her at our church a few weeks later! Good luck!!!

  21. Brisbane will be beautiful! Have a wonderful time. :)

  22. We have tried the new toys and we WRAPPED them - PJ loved it. And we could bribe her into being good so she could get the next one. Also, we tie LONG strings around all balls and small toys that we take so when they go under the seats they are easy to retrieve.
    If your kids do not already have a Magnadoodle, that can be awesome. If you have seating options, we have found the best set up is to have two seats in front of two seats (assuming the plane isn't full and people either take mercy on you or run from the children - either way is okay.) When we have seats in-front/behind each other our kids can kick the seats, stand up and play peek-a-boo with each other or us, climb, rock, and in general act like crazy toddlers without disturbing others.
    Super cheap great option - Pipe Cleaners. Lots of colors and you can make braclets, necklaces, crowns, or just stuff them all in the plastic drink cups.
    I am with Jamey on screen-time... if they will watch movies/cartoons LET THEM. Mine love to look at pictures and videos of themselves. Do you own a cheap digital camera or phone with pics?
    In the past we have used lots of forbidden snacks to keep PJ happy - only to be puked upon! So we try to have some restraint in that area now.
    Finally, on our last flight our friend picked us up the ultimate plane toys, but I have no idea what they are called and have tried to find them on the internet in the past with no luck. Maybe one of your readers will recognize them if I describe them. They are plastic tubes that are corrugated so they can be collapsed small or pulled out long. The ends can fit into each other so they can be worn as a necklace or crown. They are more or less silent, but very entertaining. I have seen much bigger versions of them that you can swing around and they making a whistling, didjerido type of noise.
    For you I will try another goole search to locate them.

  23. Hi again Claudia
    Love the idea about tying a string to toys so you can retrieve them! And yes, wrapping any toys up in birthday paper makes it more interesting (if they are into presents yet!) Finally, my friend from Australia said to wear slip-on shoes and put the very easiest shoes on the kids to make going through security easier. And if you have a carrier backpack to stick one of them in, bring it because they tend to fall asleep just as you're landing and then are a dead weight when you're trying to get off the plane.
    Good luck!!!!
    Amy x

  24. Okay, in about two days time I am sitting down with this list of comments and a spreadsheet to take notes. Not even kidding. THANK YOU so much for help and ideas (and thanks to your friend in Australia too, Amy!)

  25. Clearly I have nothing of value to add, but I need to apologize in advance for looking forward to the stories that will follow this adventure. (-; Wishing you all the best and then some.

    Oh, and I agree with whoever said to test the Benadryl first. My husband's brother and wife learned that it makes their kids bat-shit ornery on a plane...the hard way.

  26. Just new to your fabulous blog but I would be seconding the sticker books from the $2 shop(my 17 month old looooooves them), the screen toys (can you buy a couple of second hand ipad touches or similar?) and the etch-a-sketch/magnadoodle. You can get cute wee travel ones that are the very biscuit.

    Love the string idea.

    Perhaps when you are thinking about the snack packing, might not be such a great idea to include food colours/flavours etc. Kids go wild on that crap. The health food aisle has sweet and savoury snacks that might be all new and exciting without ratcheting up the crazy scale.

    Good luck!


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