Sounds like a nightmare? It doesn’t have to be!
In a previous post, I mentioned some of the struggles I felt about finding out I was having twins. It was not part of my plan, with probably the biggest adjustment being my fearsome independence and love of travel being jeopardised.
You see, I’d had visions of sauntering through departures with my baby strapped to my front exploring the world while on maternity leave. But twins? My travel dreams became as unrealistic as zero screen time and sleeping through the night….
That’s why I was so excited that now, with the boys aged three and three quarters, I started to think that travelling just us three might become a reality.
We warmed ourselves up to it earlier in the year. While my husband was back home in Australia, the three of us stayed in an Airbnb in Devon for a couple of nights. It was freezing and it rained but it was so fun and while I was in bed at 8pm when they were, we had fun watching movies and choosing our own adventures.
This month’s international adventure came about by accident really. The twins and I were supposed to be flying out to Spain with my parents and my husband a few days later, but Ryan Air’s crazy pricing system meant we would be saving hundreds (!) by travelling on our own a few days before anyone else. And I was actually cool about that idea! In fact, I got quite excited about what we would do and where we could go….
So here’s my tips if you’re thinking about embarking on an international adventure on your own with a couple of kids.
1. Pack light.
I always try and pack light (always try, usually fail) but the prospect of being the only person able to carry the bags meant that this time I was extra vigilant.
I decided we were only taking hand luggage which resulted in one small wheelie suitcase, a back pack and my basket. I went to town ordering bottles to decant toiletries and a small bottle of Soak – great to hand wash underwear and small stains and let them dry overnight.
Another tip I found useful when packing was to make sure all the items that needed to be taken out when going through security were in one place – liquids, iPads and a laptop. It meant I could easily take everything out of that one bag while keeping an eye on the boys.
And while we’re talking security – I took off all my jewelry before leaving for the airport – anything to avoid setting off alarms and extra checks!
2. Buggies in – Trunkies are out
So the boys have trunkies and they are very very cute – but a nightmare if you have two kids who both want to sit on them and one of you to pull them and carry all the other bags.
We also have a double buggy which at their age hasn’t been out of the shed much in the last few months but god was I pleased I took it. Although the boys are reluctant to use it, when things got really tough or they were tired I could wrestle them in and they had a safe place to be strapped in for a little while. It was also useful to use as a trolley for the luggage!
3. Airport rules
The part of the trip I was most hesitant about was being at the airport – arriving in Spain, not speaking the language and the boys doing a runner. I had visions of them disappearing in crowds – my own father even had a sleepless night worrying at the thought of me on my own with them!
I got through this by prepping them well ahead of time – we talked a lot whenever we were out and about how we would all have to stick together like glue when we went on our holiday. One of my boys is a lot more responsible than the other so I also had many private chats about how I would need his help as daddy wasn’t with us – responsibility he relished!
The rules at the airport were simple, easy to follow and completely black and white. They either walked beside the buggy holding on to it or they sat in it. No negotiations. And I’m pleased to say, the prep work paid off. They were as good as gold in the airport and all tiny tear-away behaviour was postponed… until we got to our apartment!
4. Splash the cash on car seats
We normally always travel with our own car seats – they are an extortionate added extra compared to the cost of the car hire, but I was so glad I booked them. Lugging two car seats on and off planes might have pushed me over the edge. I was also really surprised how good the hire car seats were, with removable covers on them that were spotless and washed after every use.
5. Don’t book a hotel
A long time ago we realized hotel rooms were not for us. Being restricted to one room sends our boys mental, not to mention having to placate early risers with a bruised banana from the bottom of a bag while waiting for the breakfast buffet to open – so a kitchen is a bonus.
I didn’t book a very big place but it was central which was perfect and in a lively block so no one was going to complain about the noise!
We always book through Airbnb. It’s been a mixed bag of places we’ve stayed in – top tip is to take photos of all the rooms as soon as you arrive, then de clutter the cool decorative items on display – then when it’s time to leave you know exactly where to put it all!
Any other tips you can share?!