Nine months after my twins were born, my husband and I decided to spend a week on Vancouver Island visiting family. This was our first “road trip” with the babies and involved traveling by car and ferry. Compared to getting on an airplane, this was a fairly simple trip. We booked a mid afternoon ferry in order to avoid feeding time on the ferry. The twins cat napped on the ferry and then slept in the car during the one hour drive to the Cowichan Valley. Here are some of the approaches we used to make traveling with twin babies run smoother.
Borrow what you can
Packing for twin babies is somewhat of a challenge. In order to avoid taking too much luggage, we asked for assistance at the other end and were able to borrow one Pack ‘n Play for a crib. We brought another Pack ‘n Play and made it a priority to pack the double stroller in our car.
Keep your hands free
While on the ferry we had to resort to carrying the heaviest twin and toting the other one around in an infant seat because we couldn’t unpack the stroller. This wasn’t the best plan. On the trip over to the island we admired a small umbrella stroller that had a basket and tray. Before our return trip we purchased one of these strollers at Walmart and we were given another umbrella stroller. It was such an improvement to be able to whisk the children around. We could even go outside to show them the view.
Accept the inconvenient
On both ferry rides we booked out tickets in advanced. Reservations are always a good idea if you are traveling with babies. Unfortunately this meant that we were on the upper car deck and ended up in the narrowest section hemmed in between a yellow fence wall and the side wall. It was almost impossible to remove the babies from the seats.
Book your time carefully
We chose a travel time in between meal times when the children should be napping. They were able to nap in the car on the way to the ferry and during the one hour trip to the Cowichan Valley after we disembarked. Trying to feed them on the ferry (other than feeding snacks and milk) would have been stressful.
On the ferry we used two bottles of measured hot water and two bottles full of formula powder. By the time the babies are ready for a drink the water is warm and ready to be mixed with the powder. If you are also breast feeding your child, make sure you have a good nursing cover. Ferries are open concept and there are many conservative Canadians who would not be comfortable seeing nursing without a cover. On the other hand don’t feel obliged to head for a dark corner (you won’t find one anyway) or, even worse, the bathroom! The first day that we arrived we brought baby food with us as we knew that the meal time would be rushed. In the days that followed our arrival we were able to continue our practice of cooking baby food from scratch. Grandpa pitched in with some of his home made meatballs and purchased fruit and vegetables for the baby. If you keep your recipes simple, you can still cook for your babies while you are on the road.
Ease up on your routine
As much as possible it is nice to maintain the nap times and routines that you have established for your baby. The challenge is that when you are in a new place and visiting family, events and visits will come up that interfere with nap time. Eventually, if you are away long enough, you will be able to get back into the routine.
We spread out a carpet, added a thick comforter and placed pillows around the perimeter against various pieces of furniture in order to create a large play space for the babies to crawl. For a bath tub we used a medium sized rubber maid storage tub with a thick towel on top. The babies loved splashing about inside for their bath time. An umbrella stroller stood in as a feeding chair.
Don’t travel too light
It was worth the effort to bring the double stroller and the children’s favourite toys – including a Fisher Price aquarium that soothes them to sleep. Our car was packed full, but we didn’t have to rush around at the other end trying to make do for a week when we would have been missing these key pieces.
But “pack smart”
The usual advice to roll clothing items applies. If each baby has his/her own bag, it is easier to find clothes. We used PGA/LPGA tour carry ons to pack their clothes. They were purchased for $1.50 at a local discount store. When you buy linens and clothing you sometimes find they are packed in stiffer plastic bags that have zips or snaps. Keep these bags and use them to group similar items in the baby’s bags. For example, the bags can hold wipe cloths or toiletries. Type out a list of everything you can imagine needing and use it carefully while packing and repacking. Choosing clothes from one colour group means that you won’t have to bring too many clothes with you and you can create different outfits.
When visiting your family take advantage of the opportunity to invite others to feed the baby, spend time visiting/holding a baby or bathing the baby. Trying to look after twin babies, adapt to a new environment and have some kind of rest and relaxation requires delegation of tasks.
With grandparents on hand, nap times were the ideal opportunity for mum and dad to dash off for a quick tour of the area. Take advantage of these babysitting opportunities. At a time when families live far from each other, they can be all too rare.
The Daily Dish is a space where I can document life in Vancouver as a mother, educator and every day citizen. There certainly is much to talk about in this vibrant urban centre, so you’re invited to return for the daily dish on what’s what in this BC family.
Pamela Chan/Editor, BCfamily.ca