We love traveling with our double phil&teds and could not imagine being without it while exploring the world! We have used it a few different ways in airports. If you’re not checking it from the start, the stroller is a great way to get all the carry-on luggage to the gate with you. We sometimes have our older child walk or we carry our little one so as to free the doubles kit for back packs/computer bags/camera equipment, etc. When we use our stroller through the airport we check it at the gate. Unfortunately when gate checking, our stroller would frequently not come back to us at our arrival gate but would go to the main luggage carousel (despite being clearly marked as a gate checked item). Different airports handle things differently, especially when traveling internationally, just to add to the excitement of the day. We were lucky to not have our stroller damaged by a lot of gate checking. I have heard of many people whose strollers have been damaged or broken, so beware. (When gate checking I used to travel with a roll of plastic wrap in my diaper bag and we would wrap the stroller prior to gate checking to try and protect the fabric. I shared this tip with a friend who one upped me by padding the handle bar of their phil&teds with diapers and then plastic wrapping it, brilliant!)
After two years of phil&teds use we finally invested in the up&away travel bag to ensure the stroller is well packed and safe while we travel. We now prefer to pack the stroller at home prior to the trip and send it safety with our checked luggage. The bag does a great job of protecting our beloved buggy. How sad would that be to get to your destination stroller-less! Since the rear wheel guards need to come off to properly pack the stroller in the travel bag, make sure if you have one of the models where the guards go on with a screwdriver to pack a screwdriver too! It may take a couple of times to see how to pack the up&away bag so maybe try it at home and don’t leave figuring out how everything fits in the bag on the jet way! Also, if you have a Lazy Ted adapter which makes a great baby bouncer/travel chair from your doubles kit, the Lazy Ted also fits with the stroller in the up&away bag, hooray!! One easy thing while traveling!
If you need to travel with a full sized car seat, we have loved using a simple little strap that attaches the car seat to a roller bag which then can be used as a stroller through the airport. (Here is the link on amazon.com) The kids love it because it is a novel and fun way to ride and you get to kill two birds with one stone by transporting the car seat and keeping your child safe. The strap takes up almost no room and in my opinion is the best option out there and is less that $15! Bigger kids can hitch rides on roller bags too, just jump on and ride. Our son loved doing this from about age 3. Although on one trip home from Poland, we had to make sure he understood he was not to hop on our roller bag that was full to the gills with beautiful pottery.
To get kids excited and show them what to expect in airports, we have loved the Usborne First Experiences book “Going on a Plane”. We got our copy on a British Airways flight to Israel in 2007 (British Airways were very kid friendly, too bad they are not partners with the airline where we collect frequent flyer miles!) I know our kids do better with steps if we talk them through the process a few times. This little book helps your kids know what to anticipate at each step through the airport. It could be like fun scavenger hunt with older kids to find all the steps you have read about.
Finally relax! And I make this point mostly to remind myself to relax! I feel that kids sense the stress level of their parents very quickly, and traveling is stressful. It sure does not help that usually the night before we are up late packing and start the travel day sleep deprived. Regardless, soon enough you will be on the plane. If you survive the plane ride, you will be enjoying your new destination (that is if you can get your kids to eat new food and sleep in a new place!) Sorry if I sound cynical, I do find it very worthwhile to travel with kids! With a little preparation, you will do great!
Keep adapting and surviving!
Ann & the Stucki family