In many ways, traveling with two babies was way easier than flights with two toddlers (Grace is 3.5 and Emery almost 2.5). While I have flown solo with the girls plenty of times, I was grateful to have Grant fly across country with us yesterday on the first leg of our journey. With toddlers, normally we don't fly with as much "gear", as I highly recommend renting carseats from the rental car company (Hertz and Avis have always given us almost new if not new-in-box seats) but with 3 months in Switzerland, we decided to bring our own, and also had to bring the stroller. So we had a ton of stuff! Very grateful to Grandbarb and Pop who helped us get to the airport... yes... in two cars! A+ Limo service even included watching the kiddos while Grant and I got the bags checked in -- thank you guys!
On the topic of gear, just days before our travels began I discovered Yvolution Backpack Scooter on Amazon ($42-60) from a fellow member of the Facebook Group Tiny Globetrotters. Knowing that on this leg of the journey the girls will likely want something to ride around as we explore the beach boardwalk and Spring Lake, I ordered two and their reaction upon arrival was worth shelling out a last minute $100! The girls were thrilled! The backpack is the perfect size and pops right off to be used for their new school, can act as a rolling backpack which the girls did down the plane aisle no problem, and can be stored in the overhead compartment no problem (though we did lower graces handle bars for this.) As they are still maturing in their ability, they are honestly slower and steadier -- not running off like they would without the responsibility of caring from their scooter -- and the backpack has the perfect amount of space for all of the lovies, snacks and wrapped prizes from the Target Dollar Spot I had to bring... oh and of course also the ipad.
In my last post I laid out a list of apps we were downloading for our journey along with the requisite Daniel Tiger, Super Monsters (on Netflix), Super Why! and other shows, but one element I forgot to mention was headphones. Grace has never had a problem keeping kid-size headphone on, except for when she wants to go to sleep on the plane and they fall off and often wake her from her sleepiness. Emery on the other hand is so wriggly there has never been any hope and usually we let her watch with a low volume. Our girls only get ipads when traveling, so they are glued to the devices on flights, with happy holding thanks to the Lieo Ipad Case ($16) that has "arms" perfect for toddler hands to hold or the arms can be folded back in the seat back pocket and secured for viewing, also stable enough to stand on its own on the tray table. They're bulky so I don't love the look, but functionally they are a home run. To solve for the headphone issue, I discovered the headband/earwarmer headphones that both girls LOVED last night. Racking up another $15 per kiddo (I am all for investing in travel buddies here, Grant, please don't do the math!!) the CozyPhones were amazing - both girls loved wearing them and the phones stayed secure. We received so many compliments on our completely full flight, keeping the girls happy as can be!
The only other gear I specifically can't live without when traveling with two toddlers is my amazing, favorite piece of gear of all time the Zoe XL2 Double Umbrella Stroller. It folds so compactly and is everything you need. We don't use any of the add ons like the lap bar, drink holders, etc. anymore to be more streamlined, but we are so in love with the storage below and sturdiness of the canopies (yes, I have balanced everything from donuts to duffle bags on top when needed!) The bright colors (we have purple) mean you can always spot it and it truly is just the best of the best investment we have ever made (and we have tried every stroller! The stroller has been to so many cities and countries with us and is durable as can be, you can tell it was invented by parents! Finally the last two pieces are mommy clips/hooks for the strollers and very specifically these travel duffles (we brought 4 on this trip!) which fold up small, hold a lot, and are so sturdy - its amazing they are $12!
Tips: #1. Dress your kids cute. Yes, comfortable, but I swear if I have big bows in their hair and something embroidered on their dresses, everyone oohs and ahhs and somehow doesn't mind the mid-flight squeals when Peppa Pig comes on the ipad AND they get to enjoy Annie's Bunny Snacks at the same time! #2. Keep the monsters...I mean Toddlers... apart! Emery flew with Grant and a few rows back, I flew with Grace. Having two adults meant we could keep them apart so they weren't fighting over who-was-watching-what-on-which-ipad or snacks or touching in general. They both got our indivdiual attention for 6 straight hours which is heaven to a 2 year old, and we each only had to manage the needs of one kiddo - it was great! When I fly solo with the girls, I usually put Grace (let's be honest, she is way better behaved at this stage) across the aisle from me. After A/B testing the method at least two dozen times, apart is way better than together!
Grant is now off at Ryan's Bachelor party in Maryland while the girls and I enjoy the beach (okay it is rainy but...) and catching up with extended family and having two of my best girlfriends come for a visit before we head on to Switzerland this coming Monday! Stay tuned, the #SwissFamilyAllen Adventure is about to takeoff for year #2!