Monday, August 27, 2012

Traveling with Twins Tips # 4 & 5: Travel Toys and Baby Equipment

4..     Dollar store toys can be a great tool to occupy the kids, especially when unpacking at your destination.  We take one or two trips to Niagara Falls each year, and we buy each child a small toy from the dollar store to give to them upon arrival.  For plane trips, we buy “travel toys” that they can use on the plane and in the airport.  For example, on a trip to Disney World, we got our son a magnetic airport scene builder, and for our daughter we purchased a “Where’s Waldo” card game.  These games have been used a few times since on other trips.

5,      If you plan to do a lot of road trips, for example to visit family out-of-town, choose a vehicle accordingly.  In other words, keep cargo space in mind when you make your selection if you will probably be hauling lots of baby equipment.  Especially when your twins are very young, try to figure out what you will need and whether it can be accommodated in your vehicle..  We have a large vehicle that has a lot of cargo space.  Our first couple of years that we rented a cottage or travelled to Niagara Falls, we were able to bring our large double stroller, an indoor safety fence, and two pack-and-play cribs to sleep in, along with our suitcases.  Packing the car was very difficult and for the cottage we packed up their toys in a rooftop cargo holder that we purchased for such trips.  If we had not had the ability to stuff all the equipment in the car, we would have had to make some choices and left some items behind.  However, sometimes it isn’t necessary to bring things.  Many hotels have cribs available and also bed rails too.  I will deal with strollers specifically in my next tip.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Traveling with Twins Tips # 2 & 3: Consider Space and Plan Ahead

2.      Consider space when selecting accommodations.  When we travel as a family we try to stay in suites, so that we have a room for the parents and one for the kids.  An excellent chain for this type of accommodation is the Embassy Suites. There are other chains and individual properties that do have a similar set up.  Even room size can make a big difference.  When our family travelled to Walt Disney World, we chose not to stay in a Disney owned moderate or value priced hotel because we understood that the rooms were very small.  Instead, we stayed at a hotel in the Downtown Disney Resort Area and the room had two queen beds and a lot more space.  Cottage resorts or just renting a cottage is another excellent option and a great way to spend a family vacation.  Cottages are naturally spacious compared to other accommodations and usually include full kitchens and even barbecues.

3.      Plan ahead!  This applies to both longer road trips and plane trips.  Be aware of things such as your children’s nap (if applicable) and bed times and try to plan travel around these as much as possible.  If you are driving, think of where you might stop to eat and/or for washroom breaks.  Smart phones and tablets have apps that can find the nearest restaurant or gas station.  My personal favourite is “Timmy’s Me” which finds me the nearest Tim Horton’s location and can even narrow them down to the drive thrus only.  Don’t hesitate to bring snacks in the car or on the plane.  Most food that isn’t a liquid or a gel is allowed through security.  My wife and I always pack and bring such healthy snacks as granola bars and fruit bites and bars to quell the kids’ hungry moments. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Traveling with Twins Tip #1: Saving Money

My wife and I were eating dinner in a restaurant one evening and were discussing an upcoming excursion with our twin children.  An older gentleman sitting with his wife at the next table chimed in.  He told us that when he and his wife went away with their now grown up children, they called it a trip.  It was only a vacation if they went away by themselves.  I think almost all parents can relate to this but particularly those of twins or multiples.  So here is the first of ten tips to turn your trips into events that resemble vacations.
There are several ways to save your family money when planning such a trip with twins.  The Entertainment Book offers discounts on restaurants, hotels, attractions, and even car rentals.  Over the years we have saved hundreds of dollars using it on vacations.  You can buy books for most North American cities for about 25 or 30 dollars each annually. 

If you live in Canada, flying out of nearby US airports can save you a fortune.  For example, my wife and I saved over $1000 on a recent flight to Baltimore by flying out of Buffalo instead of Toronto.  The taxes are most of the savings.  Sure you have to weigh the drive to the airport, and weather is certainly a consideration too.  You may not wish to risk driving through a winter snow storm to catch a flight.  But when you consider the ease of going through the border by car, you actually aren’t losing much time.  I have also flown out of Seattle instead of Vancouver, when I lived there.  Most of the time you should book directly through the hotel or airline to get the best deal.  Many of the hotel chains and airlines will even guarantee this and beat a rate or fare found on an outside website.  Keep in mind that may generic travel websites make you pay ahead of time with no chance of cancellation, which is always risky when booking with children. won’t save you money directly, but it will give you an idea of whether you are getting good value.  Trip Advisor ranks hotels and restaurants based on user reviews.  Reviewers rate the property on value and often comment on this.  You can even read only the reviews written about family travel to narrow your focus.

More tips for travelling with twins in future blogs.