I got this urgent request for advice this morning from a mom who will be traveling with twins and her handicapped mother to India in the near future, and I’m hoping those of you with experience traveling with twins in this age range, or who have traveled with a baby or toddler to India, or with the gear mentioned below, will chime in with your own thoughts as well. I offer my advice below.
I am a mother of 15-month-old twin boys. I am from India and I want to take the kids home to meet their family. Have I signed myself a death sentence? What options do I have? I will be traveling with them and my mom who is a handicapped….can I even do it?
Specifically, we are considering how to take kids on the flight. We did get them their own seats, but I’m not sure if we really needed to?? How can they travel, realistically? We are looking at these three options:
1) The CARES harness – seems like a good convenient idea and light to carry also, but our kids are about 23 pounds and 15 months old – is this product going to contain them specially as it does not have a 5-point harness? We are reading mixed reviews about this product. Your advice
2) The Sit N Stroll car seat – seems like another good option, but we are increasing the number of items we have to take with us – also the reviews again are mixed and major concern is safety – also it is more expensive. Your advice?
3) Go kart seats we have used these before, but are too cumbersome to use and our Britax will not fit through the aisles as I am traveling without my hubbs I am not 100% confident that I will be able to handle this. Your advice?
Need your help SOS.
Before I get to the gear advice, I want to say your seats on the airplanes may greatly impact your sanity (and survival) on the long flight(s). While it is always tempting to book the bulkhead row to take advantage of infant sky cots (bassinets) when available, you need to be aware of two important things: there is usually a limit to how many young children may be seated on the entire bulkhead row, whether in their own seats and/or on laps. (Our family just had to sit on separate rows because of this ourselves.) And also, it can be very difficult to get children to sleep well in these areas of the airplane due to activity and distractions from the adjacent lavatories and galley.
Since you have purchased seats for the twins (hopefully with an infant seat discount — call the airline ASAP if not and ask), it might be best to request seats farther back in the aircraft where, with any luck, there will still be some additional seats open, giving you even more space as the children sleep and a quieter atmosphere. See if you can get a row in the center section of the aircraft all to yourselves, and start with the twins seated in the middle, an adult on each side to tend to each one, and the boys can share toys and snacks and help keep each other entertained while awake. Now for gear…
The Sit N Stroll - Yes, the Sit N Stroll offers the practical advantage of 5-point safety harness you can use in the airplane, which can be very helpful in keeping 15-month-old children in their seats, and also in a car—provided that the car has seatbelts for installing it as a car seat. However, in your case I think it would be too difficult to “drive” two different Sit N Stroll strollers through the airport by yourself, and of course you will need to be available to assist your mother… and I’d imagine carry-on baggage for all, which will be important on such long flights with your group! Also, once in India, you would probably not find the Sit N Stroll a desirable stroller option on the ground as it’s very delicate and would be very hot – not to mention it would be tough pushing two of them at a time! (More about the Sit N Stroll here.)
Twin Travel Stroller + CARES – If it were me, I would bring a Maclaren twin stroller to check at the gate(either the Twin Techno or even lighter weight Twin Triumph) for similar reasons as I described in this post (and you can read how it went for the mom in her reply), plus two CARES harnesses to use on the airplane. As I point out in my review of CARES, the harness partially uses the airplane lap belt which is easy for children to lift and open, but if you don’t make this obvious to your 15-month-olds, it may not be an issue. Also, you can twist the lap belt so that the buckle faces in toward the child and is not easily experimented with.
Car seats, as I’m sure you know, are quite rare in India, and many vehicles are simply not equipped for them or would be large enough for two plus an adult in the backseat. If you are sure you will be able to use car seats while in India, and will have a newer equipped vehicle for these, you could consider the Safety 1st portable Go Hybrid car seat / booster, which folds up in its own carrying case and is much safer to check through the airport’s baggage system than plastic-shell car seats, so you can simply check it on arrival. The Go Hybrid requires a top tether, however, so be sure you would have this in the vehicle(s). They are not cheap car seats, and cannot be used in airplanes, but you can use them from 22 lbs. up through school age when it converts to a backless booster, so they may help on trips to come as well as get use at home (more about the Go Hybrid in my review. Renting CARES for your trip (as opposed to buying) could help curb your costs for this investment.
Finally, by all means, contact the airline about your situation to make sure they’re fully aware and ready for you, and request airport assistance in getting your mother to the gate. Hopefully they will take your whole party together on an electric cart. It is a massive undertaking, and you are very brave to even consider it. I applaud you for honoring your extended family with this journey and sincerely wish you safe, smooth flights, and many helpful hands along the way. I am sending you a copy of each of my books in the hope that they may also help. Please let us know how it goes!
Related posts and pages:
Ask Shelly: Advice for flying to India with a 2-year-old?
Moms Around the World: Bangalore, India
Ask Shelly: Which twin stroller for travel to Europe?
Flying with twins on separate rows (and why you might want to)
Best twin or double strollers for travel
Tip #6: Flying with twins on laps
I know, there’s enough going on already this week! But if you’ll be traveling during the next couple of weeks, here are things you can do in the next couple of days that you’re sure to thank yourself for later.
2. Send an Amazon shipment of diapers, your child’s favorite snacks, and supplies to meet you at your relative’s home.
4. Decide what you and your child(ren) will wear during travel now.
6. Pack an extra nightlight and small flashlight now (still loving my Beam ‘N Read!) as they are too easily forgotten in the hubbub of last-minute laundry.
What happened to 8, 9, and 10? Like I said, I know there’s enough going on this week!
How about you?
What else will you be doing to prepare for holiday travel this year? Do you have a sanity-saving holiday travel tip to share?
Although I’ve had some amazing Thanksgiving dinners in my life, including the one my mother whipped up for us a couple of weeks before the holiday proper this year (thanks, Mom!), I’ll always remember this year’s official Turkey Day—without turkey—with an extra twinkle in my eye.
Tim and I toasted the American holiday with San Miguel beer and Rioja wine, then dove headfirst into this delicious paella, cooked beachside in the Andalucían town of Nerja, Spain. It’s almost as much fun to watch the giant batches like this cooking up at the outdoor restaurants as it is to eat the end product.
We’re back! Our poor, worn suitcases are spilling out all over the entryway, but before I get to the laundry or any of the details of our amazing overseas escape, I wanted to follow-up regarding the new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) debate and share our recent experiences traveling with the little ones–and I’d love to hear back from any of you who recently cleared security with kids.
Our first surprise was at San Francisco International, where we were very happily directed into the much shorter line at the green Family Lane. The enormous AIT booth loomed large in front of the security lines, and as we approached, I asked the TSO if it was backscatter or millimeter wave imaging. He grinned, happy to hear from a traveler who knew there was a difference between the two, and assured me it was the millimeter wave model. Knowing that this is the case at SFO—and not at Oakland or San Jose—makes SFO my preferred Bay Area airport, how about you?
He also explained that no, the children did NOT have to walk through it, nor did they have to be physically “frisked” by anyone—and guess what? As their parent-escorts neither did we! We presented our liquids and gels, removed the shoes, and walked through the metal detector as usual. On the other side, a TSO even grabbed our travel stroller without prompting and had it unfolded for me in a flash.
Neither of the airports we passed through in Europe had AIT booths, including Heathrow—which came as a surprise to me. However, as I passed through security at Terminal 3, surprised that I not only got to wear my baby and my shoes through the metal detector, a cheerful little beeping ensued. Guess what? We were the randomly selected travelers—baby and me—who got to be pulled aside and physically searched!
No kidding. Thankfully, it was a very sweet woman who was so friendly and kind that my daughters felt compelled to hang out at my feet as I held out the baby for his diaper-patting and squeezes (which he thought were just more friendly greetings) and got a less-invasive frisking than I’d feared. It was fine. We all laughed and were quickly on our way.
On our way back through Heathrow, at Terminal 5, we were cordially invited to go ahead and preboard when we were ready. So as we stepped up to do so and gave the family surname, we got another surprise. Our government had randomly selected us to receive pre-flight massages—by British airport security. Again, the officers were all very cordial and we had some good laughs, even as they directed us to go downstairs to a more private area…(What?!) Fortunately, this applied only to the adults in our party, and not the kids who were able to sit to the side and look on as we smiled. So we chuckled as they searched through our toy- and snack-stuffed carry-ons. But when the lead officer began to put on the rubber gloves, I admit my stomach rose into my throat.
The rubber gloves, thank goodness, were just a formality. The frisking was once again much less invasive than I’d feared it would be.
How about you?
Have you encountered AIT at the airport recently? How did the TSO’s handle your family’s passage through airport security? And would you choose a different airport based on AIT practices or equipment?
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