Traveling with children is tough. Traveling with twin infants or twin toddlers can be uniquely challenging. From beginning to end, the journey can be fraught with stress. Packing light is essential, for financial and logistical reasons. We only have two hands. It's tough to figure out how to pack so that those two hands can cart all of your belongings and your loved ones from point-a to point-b without incident. Remember to place identification both inside and outside of every item.
The luggage can go on a cart, which needs to be pushed, usually with two hands. Rolling luggage is convenient because other bags can be stacked on them and only one hand is required to pull it along, but there are space limits. A stroller is so helpful, but usually requires two hands to push it - and recently, American Airlines announced that they will no longer allow strollers over 20 pounds to be checked at the gate, which pretty much means you cannot use your double stroller.
If stroller is required, try something lightweight, easy to fold, and easy to carry like the Jeep Wrangler Twin Sport. I'm partial to the Combi Twin Sport, though I suspect if I weighed mine, it would be over the 20 pound limit. If you're able to go without a stroller on your journey, or will be checking your stroller either willingly or under duress, there are some products that can help you convert your child's car seat into a stroller.
The Travelmate or Infant Cruiser from GoGo Babyz are a great way to convert your car seats into something like a wheelie bag. You attach the car seat to the device, then pull your baby on the car seat behind you. This breaks it down to one hand per baby. The GoGo Babyz devices cost between $70 and $90 for the Travelmate, and $150 to $180 for the Infant Cruiser. They can be challenging to set up to the car seat when under pressure to get out of the way of other passengers. When we used it, we dropped one of the screws and it shattered on the metal floor on the jetway. We were able to replace it from their website, but it took months because they were out of stock every time we checked.
Another option is the Traveling Toddler strap. The strap attaches your car seat to your wheelie luggage, and your baby can ride in the car seat while you push or pull your luggage, your car seat, and your child all together. One hand gets a lot more accomplished with this method, though it can also be tricky to set up (some car seats must be configured for forward-facing for the strap to reach, and your luggage should be strong enough to accommodate the weight). The straps are about $15 each.
Baby carriers are fantastic, but it can be challenging to deal with everything else while keeping in mind your extra size, either in front or in back, so you don't accidentally bump the poor kid's head into anything or anyone. We've been considering a Melissa & Doug Trunki, though the ones we saw in the store were already losing pieces, and the reviews on Amazon say they come apart easily. They still look like a lot of fun, and I have also heard many raves about them.
Car seats can either be checked with your luggage or brought on board with you to use on the plane. If your children are lap-riders, you may still bring your seats on board with you. Check with the agent when checking into your flight if the flight is full. If the flight is not full and you want to bring your seats, you may always gate-check them when you board if you change your mind or if the airline personnel inform you that there is no room for them. If you check them with your luggage, remember that they do not count toward your luggage allowance, and you shouldn't be charged for them - the same rule applies to strollers in most cases. Also, while many airlines provide clear plastic bags for them for free, many do not, and your car seat may be damaged if you check it without some protection. Large clear plastic bags are sold in most hardware stores with varying prices, or you can buy a case for your seats for about $25 to $50.
Getting through security doesn't have to be obscene. Try to get through the initial metal detector screening without setting off the alarm and you should be able to bypass additional screening unless you're randomly selected. If you set off the initial walk through metal detector, try to cooperate with additional screening the best you can so that you can be on your way. The security policies are actually quite similar to many European countries. In many cases, our security is easier. The screeners are just people trying to do their jobs, and most of them can be quite helpful if you allow them to be. It's a hard job. I know. I've done it.
When going through security, ask the Ticket Checker to direct you to the best line for your family, one that may allow you extra time and perhaps some assistance. If someone offers to help, don't be afraid to accept the help. They can be very helpful if you let them. They can help divest your items, collapse your stroller, and offer advice, but they cannot hold a baby for you.
Get several buckets and line them up on the tables prior to placing them on the belt for the x-ray. Divest your shoes and any loose clothing, such as hats, scarves, and jackets. Place smaller bags in the bins and put your larger bags through on their own. Laptops need to be run separately, out of the bag unless it's approved for airport x-ray, and don't place anything on top of it or underneath it. Send your laptop and most valuable items as if they are the middle of a sandwich - with one bag or bin in front of it and one behind it, so that you will remember to pick it up on the other side.
Try to envision your items as they might be seen in an x-ray and try to not stack your items much to make it easier for the x-ray screener to see things clearly. Do not place jewelry on its own in a bin or a bowl. If you insist on removing jewelry, place the small items into a ziploc bag and then into one of your larger bags. Place your ziploc bag of liquid toiletries separately, too, in a bin with your other items. Place any liquid items for your children in a separate bin, including food items such as yogurt, apple sauce, and baby food. Alert the screener of these items you have for the children so that they can expedite the screening process for them.
After you've divested your own items, then divest your children's items last. Just like with yourself, remove shoes, hats, and anything that is loose. Everything must be screened, including baby carriers, blankets, stuffed animals and toys, which should go through the x-ray. If your stroller is too big to go through the x-ray, or too difficult to collapse, ask the screener if they can manually screen it for you.
Count all of your items as they go into the x-ray machine, and don't go through the metal detector until you see all of your items go on the x-ray belt, even if the screener is beconning you to come through. They'll understand you waiting if you tell them you still have items on that side.
Unless your child is a confident walker, and confident enough to walk through alone, carry your small child or baby through the metal detector. Do not touch the sides, do not let your child touch the sides, just walk through briskly and normally. Hopefully that will be the end of it and you can collect your items. Count them as you collect them, too, to ensure you don't leave anything behind.
Put your children's shoes on first and get them back in their seats or stroller so that it's easier to collect the rest of your items. When you get to your flight, ask where the family boarding is, and ask for assistance with boarding. Family boarding is no longer the first priority group with most airlines, and it really does take a lot of extra time and energy to get on board when you have little ones with you. The airline personnel might even be able to assist you by holding a baby while you get your things situated.
Once you reach your destination, picking up your items is a breeze compared to getting everything there. If anything is lost, remember your rights. Most airlines will deliver your baggage to you when it is retrieved, and 98% of the time it is returned. The airline will also reimburse you, up to a certain amount for any necessary items you need to purchase until you get your luggage back. When ours was lost in Salt Lake city, Delta Airlines reimbursed us for our lost diapers, baby food, formula, bottles, and a few other items we couldn't go a night without. We got our suitcase the next morning.