Saturday, April 26, 2014

Plane travel with 6 month old triplets

The most important thing to know is that we survived.  It can be done!  Although I HIGHLY recommend having a 1:1 adult to child ratio if at all possible.  Even better if you can somehow arrange to have more adults than kiddos!  We were VERY thankful that Hope, our PT nanny, was able to rearrange her schedule to make the trip with us.  We were also fortunate that for 3/4 of our long flights we were traveling with Kate, Claude, & Abigail which meant our adult to child ratio was 5:4 for those flights.

Honestly, the babies were very good travelers overall.  They were not the babies you loathe sitting by on the plane who cry endlessly.  Sure, there was some crying and fussing, but there was also a lot of sleeping and quiet time.  When I first thought about flying with the babies I pictured all of us sitting in one section of three seats, passing babies around at will, helping each other as needed.  Sadly, that pretty little picture isn't possible because there aren't 6 oxygen masks in one row.  So only one person with a lap child can be in each set of three seats.  An exception seems to be the tiny planes that fly to/from State College where they have a few rows with extra oxygen masks because we were allowed to sit by each other on those flights as long as we were in the right row.  So the best plan for seats is to have two people in aisle seats across from each other and the third directly in front or behind.  We had to learn that lesson the hard way and pay for it (literally) on the way home.  Our flight from O'Hare to LAX was packed and since we booked last minute we were stuck with two middle seats and one window.  This is NOT good when you have babies because you are essentially trapped.  That was by far the worst flight of the trip.  Luckily, Claude had an aisle seat and was willing to carry, bounce, & walk the fussy baby up and down the aisle.  He'd settle one down and pass the baby back to us just in time for another baby to get handed to him!  It was MUCH easier when we were all on the aisle like we were for the rest of the long flights.  Sometimes the babies just needed us to stand up & bounce or rock them for a minute or two to get them back to sleep and that was much easier to do with an aisle seat.

On our first flight.  Isn't that carrier Michelle's
wearing cute?  We borrowed two Tula carriers
from a friend & they're so cute (also too
expensive for us to justify buying!)

Before the trip I packed a mini diaper bag for each of to have with us so we'd have quick access to key things.  In each bag I packed disposable diapers, an extra cloth diaper cover, wipes, a burp cloth, a wet bag (for dirty/wet clothes), two plastic grocery bags (for dirty/wet diapers), a pacifier, an extra sleeper, and snacks.  I carried the big backpack diaper bag and had extra extras of all of those things plus a cooler section with bottles and food in it.  And when I say food, I mean small tubs of guacamole and hummus that we were able to take through security because I told them it was baby food.  (Hey, I wasn't lying...the babies ate both of those things!  They did share with the adults though!)  One thing I didn't really think about until we were in flight was just how hard it would be to access anything in the bag with a baby on my lap!  It is hard enough to get to things in your bag under the seat in front of you when you're by yourself, but when you've got a baby on your lap or in a carrier on your chest, it's next to impossible!  So many of our snacks did not get eaten because it was so hard to get to them and not worth risking waking a sleeping baby! 

As you know, we are cloth diaper fanatics here so it was weird for us to use disposable diapers for this entire trip, but was certainly simpler.  We have hated disposables thus far in life, mostly because almost without fail, every time we use them we seem to have poop blowouts.  So in an attempt to avoid having to deal with this on the airplane we decided to have the kiddos all in disposables with a cloth diaper cover on top to contain any blowouts.  And it worked like a charm! 

We briefly debated bringing a stroller, but quickly decided against it because we knew my mom had strollers in Hawaii and because we rarely use strollers anyway, opting for babywearing instead.  And we figured that would just make getting on/off flights more difficult.  Post trip, I think that was a very wise decision as was checking their car seats and all of our luggage.  All we had to deal with on the flights was one baby in a carrier and one backpack each.  This made it so we didn't feel the need to pre-board (not that United pre-boards kids anymore anyway! Can you believe that?!) and could wait til the end of the boarding process minimizing our time on each plane.  The thing I was worried about was whether the babies would sleep, or even be somewhat content, in the carriers because at home they often fuss if we try to sit or even stop moving, but on the planes they did pretty well for the most part. The other nice thing about the carriers is that you can wear the babies through security which just made that whole process smoother for us.  In fact, when we were on our way to Hawaii we had a 4 hour layover at O'Hare and were able to leave our backpacks with Hope and take the babies out of security for a short visit with Michelle's mom Denise! 
Happy Grandma, happy babies!

How we went through security!  The TSA agent
looked at me funny when I handed her 3 boarding passes
because she didn't notice the baby on my back! =)

We borrowed a very large bag from a friend and Hope has a big USA rugby suitcase and we were able to pack for all six of us in those two bags which cut down on our check bag fees.  We also borrowed two car seat luggage bags from another friend and were able to fit all three seats in those two bags.  Not that it mattered since they check car seats for free.  But, did you know that if something happens to your car seat or stroller when it's checked the airline isn't responsible for fixing it?!  I know this because one of the car seat bags was damaged on the way home and when I went to file the claim the person told me that they would repair or replace the bag, but she had to check on it since she knew car seats & strollers weren't covered, just bags!

We were thankful for the layovers in the airports as they gave us all a little time to stretch and move our bodies.  It also gave us time to cool off because wearing babies can make you pretty hot!  Oh, that's one tip I missed, if you're wearing a baby, I recommend short sleeves with a zip uo hoodie you can put on over the carrier if you get chilly.  Anyway, back to the layovers.  As we do pretty much anywhere we go, we made quite the spectacle when we had all three babies laying down on the floor in the airport!  Actually, that was really the only time we were a spectacle during the trip though, because with three women all carrying babies people tended to assume that we were all just moms carrying our own baby so we flew under the radar a lot.  During our long layover at LAX on the way out Kate & I moved a row of benches to cordon off a nice little area where we all camped out for a while. 

our LAX daycare =)

 All in all I think the trip was a huge success and I'm so so glad that we decided to bring everyone.  It will be interesting to see how things are different when we make this journey again with three almost 10 month olds this summer!

1 comment:

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