Traveling with twins used to mean one thing to me: double trouble! Packing for Abby and Izzy was a dizzying experience—mentally multiplying the number of onesies, diapers, packs of wipes, bibs, bottles, and binkies to make sure there were enough for the trip (pass the calculator, please). I congratulated myself every time I managed to fit everything into three suitcases and my filled-to-the-gills diaper bag. It was as if we were headed to Mars, not Grandma's house.
The Right Car
What saved us: Our Toyota Sienna. I never thought I'd want a minivan (does anyone ever lust after one?), but traveling by mom-mobile made life infinitely easier—it's comfy, like a living room on wheels, and there's plenty of room for stuff, and more stuff. Forget the heated seats; my favorite feature is the built-in DVD player. Sure, by toddlerhood the girls wanted to watch the same Dora the Explorer cartoons over and over again. But they were entertained, and the familiar videos helped lull them to sleep on longer rides. Although that Dora theme song is still on repeat in my head.
Their Own Seats
Flying with the girls, which didn't happen until they were two, presented a whole other set of challenges. We bought them their own seats, as much as we hated the expense. Although you can keep a child under 24 months on your lap, both the Federal Aviation Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics say it's safest for children to fly in car seats. (Heads up, the car seats needs to be FAA-approved; look for a sticker that says "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.")
I also learned to research flight schedules far in advance to find ideal routes. Layovers save you money, even better if there's one in an airport with a play areas like Dallas's DFW Airport. They're extra awesome because the girls run amuck and blow off energy before boarding our connecting flight. Booking seats in the back row has become a habit, too; you can't beat the proximity to the bathrooms. Oh, and then there's my secret fix for times when they're vegging out: mommy juice (aka white wine). One glass helps soothe my frayed nerves, and is well worth the investment.
Due to my husband's work schedule, I often have to travel alone with the twins; as a result, I've experienced the kindness of strangers. People have gladly lent a hand when they see me trying to wrangle unruly twins and our bags. Once, a pilot even sat next to us in the jump seat (therefore blocking the bathroom, but it was okay). He remained patient as Abby and Izzy peppered him with questions about flying, his family, and his uniform. He even colored with them and read them a story. I tried to bribe them to leave the poor guy alone, but he just smiled and said, "I have two at home myself. It's OK, really!" My eyes got wet and I buried them in a book while I relished a few rare moments of peace and quiet.
To Each Their Own
These days, when I'm packing to go away, I lay out all the clothes I want to bring and eyeball them, which helps me cut back. (And, truly, who cares if the girls' wear the same leggings two days in a row?) Abby and Izzy even pack their own backpacks now, although I put my foot down when they attempt to take every single doll they own. They may fight over the window seat but, hey, at least I'm no longer forking up fees for overstuffed suitcases.