Traveling with 2-Year Olds

I've done a few travel posts over the past two years as traveling with kids changes depending on the age. Well, it's tough at all ages, but the gear changes, the flexibility changes and the attitudes or overall behavior certainly does at each different phase.

I was expecting traveling at age 2 to be just as tough, but it's been nice that they can communicate so much and definitely helpful that they're so interested in shows. Overall the travel went well.

SLEEP: We took the red-eye to Cincinnati as it's the only direct flight there from SF. We were nervous about this -- didn't know how that day would play out and let's face it, the red eye can either be amazing (if they sleep and you don't need to entertain them for 4 hours) or it can be awful (crying kid for 4 hours). Our experience was somewhere in the middle, leaning towards the sleeping side. We checked the stroller and instead put the carseats on these wheeled cart things. That worked pretty well (well, one did, the other was a different brand -- we borrowed both from a friend -- and couldn't figure out how to get it to work so it was pretty bad) and allowed us to bring the car seats on board. We weren't sure how they'd do but after talking to many other moms about it, decided to take the chance as it meant we wouldn't have to hold them for 4 hours.

They ended up falling asleep maybe 15 minutes after take off and I'd say maybe slept for 45 minutes or so in the carseat. Then they woke up (not necessary at the same time, but the schedule was similar for each) and we ended up holding them for the remainder of the flight. It was hard to get comfortable, there were a few quick cries here and there, but overall, not too bad. I was so worried as we had a great day before the flight, but I put them down a little later than normal and William would not fall asleep. It had been almost an hour and a half when he finally did, only to wake up 45 minutes later. Luckily Jessica held him and he went back to sleep for another hour. G did much better and we let him sleep until 5:30pm, but overall it wasn't as seamless as I had planned.

Overall, the red-eye worked well enough that we'd probably do it again but Dave and I didn't get much, if any, sleep, and the boys didn't get much either, which makes for a tough next day.  Even though we knew they were tired (at least I knew we were!), it was still tough to get them down for a nap that next day.

Sleep during the trip was up and down. The best sleep was the night we were away at the hotel (which is definitely a good thing!). Overall they did well most nights, sleeping through the night. I think there was just one or two wake ups here or there. Going to sleep at night wasn't great -- one terrible night when we were trying to go with the flow a bit too much and we had to deal with crying for over an hour. They did sleep in late most mornings, getting a full 11 hours of sleep. And naps were generally pretty good too, once we got past that first day. It still took them a while to fall asleep, but once they did, they were sleeping for a solid 3 hours which was nice.

That's the hard thing with twins, a schedule is such a huge benefit with two the same age, but it leaves little room to be flexible. Though I feel like they're finally getting to the age where we can play around with timing a bit more, I've still been proven that deviating from the schedule often leads to a TON more work for us.

POTTY:  Traveling with potty-trained kids is great! Linda still had little potties at her house for us, which was nice and they definitely used, but they're getting much better about going on the big potty. They did well when we were out, even telling us when they needed to poop at various public places. They each had one accident the whole trip -- both on 4th of July after their nap when they were playing at home. I put them in diapers on the plane, under their underwear, though they were dry and both had no problem going on the plane, even #2.

PLAY: I brought tons of games and toys for them on the plane. The first 45 minutes on the return flight was a dream. I turned on a Nicholas Sparks movie (why do I do this every time? I know I'm going to be bawling by the end!!) while George sat happily watching the screen in front of him. I thought, this is going to be easy. Well, 45 minutes was about the max of that before he started getting antsy. We then cycled through everything in the backpack, ate plenty of snacks and traded off seats with who was sitting next to Mom and Dad. Luckily we each got a row to ourselves; having an extra seat is always so nice. They did really well on the flight. The last 30-45 minutes was getting a little hard as they were over everything we brought and when sitting together, they were just pushing each other to get crazier. It's just a long time for them to be sitting without getting any energy out so I can't blame them. Neither slept, which we didn't expect them to since our flight left at 9:30am. Of course about 10 minutes from home in the car, both were falling asleep and getting so mad when I was keeping them awake. We made it, then they got a second wind, of course, at home with Dedee but were asleep close enough to their SF schedule nap time that they got back on track to this time zone nicely.

New travel tips learned:
  • Save a 'packing list' so you don't have to reinvent the wheel for each trip. It makes it so easy not to forget anything. I even have their toiletry list written out on a post-it and sealed on their toiletry bag so it's easy for Jessica to collect everything.
  • If you're able, like we were on this trip, do laundry before you come home. It was so easy to unpack clean clothes and put them away as opposed to doing multiple loads of laundry and then dealing with it.
  • Have help lined up for as soon as you get home. It was a lifesaver to have my mom there so when we walked in the door, she could take over the kids and Dave and I could unload the uber, get everything unpacked and then relax for a few minutes.
  • We also had Jessica stay until we got into the uber to the airport. This was SO helpful. Not stressed, running around trying to get everything together with them running around.This was especially key since we didn't leave the house until an hour after their bedtime so we needed to keep them engaged without getting them all riled up.
  • This one isn't new but I stick by it -- bring what you need even if you feel like you're bringing too much. The boys' backpacks were stuffed to the brim with toys, games, books and snacks. And they used just about everything in there.
  • Decide if you really need to bring the stroller. We used it twice the whole trip and are debating whether or not we'll bring it with us to Florida in December. At that point they'll be over 2.5 and we can rent a stroller at Disneyworld and possibly get by without one elsewhere.
  • Staying with family is the way to go -- Linda made sure the boys had what they needed to make things easy (little booster seats, little potties, cribs, etc.), she has tons of toys and between shopping for us, cooking, cleaning and general planning, not to mention watching the boys, this trip did feel like a bit of a vacation :) A HUGE thank you for all the work that went into it. I'm sure she's the one who will need a vacation after we left!
  • The backpack is definitely the way to go, both for day trips and for the plane.

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