Kiwi’s are known for their love of international travel, so who better to talk with about travelling long-haul with multiples than New Zealander Kelsey Waters. She shares some tips with us about travelling on long-haul flights with multiples in tow.
As an expat living in New Zealand, it’s important to me that my girls grow up as true Kiwi kids, but also with an understanding of their heritage beyond these shores.
Which is why my partner, our three year old daughter, our 16-month twin girls and I travelled to the other side of the world to enjoy the British summer. It was a month long affair and there were a lot of lessons we learned along the way.
Here’s some you may find useful if you’re planning taking to the skies for hours upon hours with your multiples.
1. Research how kid-friendly each airline is. From Hong Kong to London, I was particularly impressed with Cathay Pacific who gave each of the girls a kids’ pack (stickers, colouring books and crayons) as well as giving the infants a meal too (some jars of baby food). This wasn’t the case with Air NZ who provided a child’s meal only – no entertainment for any of the kids and no food for the infants (although to be fair when I asked if they had any leftover child’s meals, they managed to find a spare for us.
2. Check out what the airlines’ luggage allowances are for their youngest passengers, as well as what additional luggage you can take per child ie car seats, portacots, strollers…free of charge.
3. Arm yourself with a couple of front packs and leave the stroller at home. We brought an umbrella stroller with us and ended up leaving it behind as we just had so much stuff. We found the front packs a lot easier as we had hands free to carry all our crap, and the babies were cosy so would nap or just enjoy looking around. This obviously only worked well as our girls are small for their age and so fit comfortably in a front pack.
4. Or if you can’t ditch the stroller, most airlines we traveled with had the option of wheeling it all the way up to the plane, at which point they’d then take it down to the hold for us, then bring it back to us upon disembarking.
5. Check the airline’s rules around bassinets, and if possible, book/reserve yours in advance. Some airlines gladly reserve the bassinet row for you free of charge (Cathay Pacific), others may request it for you but can’t guarantee it’s yours (KLM), whilst others allow you to pay in advance to secure it (Air New Zealand).
6. Take advantage of the extra attention your multiples get. Airport staff may usher you to the front of queues, whilst airline staff may be a extra helpful too!
7. Carry hard copies of all your tickets/booking confirmations etc. Three out of the four long-haul flights we traveled on didn’t have either of the twins recorded as having a ticket. I was even asked if I was sure I booked them onto the flight (my baby brain isn’t THAT bad!). Apparently it was something to do with the system not understanding that two passengers on the same ticket could have the same birth date…bizarre, as I’m pretty sure my girls aren’t the first twins to fly in an airplane! Having the printed tickets handy stopped a lot of stress and waiting around.
8. I preferred night flights as the girls hunkered down to sleep for most of the flight. When we flew through the day they were a bit more restless and harder to keep happy.
9. If you can, invest in an airport lounge pass. You won’t have trouble finding a collection of seats to accommodate your tribe, you’ll be away from the busy crowds, plus all you can eat food and drink is included in the cost of the pass. They’re a bit on the pricey side, some lounges are much much better than other (Hong Kong’s was amazing, while LA’s was so bad!) but it saved my sanity a few times!
10. Don’t try and pack everything in to one trip. We moved around fairly quickly and the girls were troopers, but by the end of the holiday we were all getting frustrated with the endless packing, unpacking and sleeping in different beds. Next time, I’d spend more time at less destinations, rather then trying to fit in visits to everyone and everywhere.
And remember to HAVE FUN… you are on holiday after all!