10 Jul
Traveling With Kids and Other Things That’ll Make You Call Your Pharmacist

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I will be traveling at the end of the month with my two boys, ages 3.5 and 5.5. I have flown before with them, and it hasn’t been too terrible, but this trip includes a four-hour layover in Detroit. Our last flight included an hour layover and in that short amount of time they nearly knocked down a gaggle of old ladies, started a wrestling match during boarding, and almost got arrested by Homeland Security. What the hell am I going to do?


Traveling Terrors


Dear Traveling Terrors,

You came to the right place with this question, my friend, for I am also the mother of two boys and travel with them alone quite often. In fact, you may have seen us on the news last month—“Blonde Mom Locks Self In a Southwest Airlines 747 Cockpit: Tells Pilot She’ll ‘Do Anything Above the Waist’ To Escape Rampaging Offspring.” We were on the Today show right after the kid who swallowed twenty Beyblades and the family pet and now crusades for Christ. No? Missed it? I’ll send you the tape after I sort out my current legal mess.

Of course there are lots of tips and tricks to traveling with children, but in my opinion, a successful trip can really be boiled down to one word: Electronics.

iPods, iPads, DS, Playstations, Walkmen, Leapsters—if it has batteries and makes annoying beeps and squeaks, buy ten and shove them into your little guys’ hands as soon as you get through security. Just forget any of the usual rules or regulations you have about screen time and brain rot because a four-hour layover in Detroit is exactly why Angry Birds was invented. Also download their favorite TV shows or movies and be sure to bring along headphones and lots of extra batteries. Your goal is to have both kids sitting in a drooling nursing home stupor until your row is called for boarding or they turn 18 and you can jump on the first plane to Aruba.

A few other tips:

  • Give each boy a backpack and tell them to pack a few of their favorite things from home.  (Their favorite things will most likely be 200 Pokemon cards, dried out markers and a piece of your wedding china.) This’ll give them a taste of home while also helping them feel like they’re in charge of their activities.
  • Pack snacks, snacks and more snacks. Make most of them healthy choices, but never underestimate the bribing power of something made by that bitch Little Debbie, either.
  • The Family Restroom is your friend. Don’t even consider taking them into the regular ladies room unless you want 100 of your fellow passengers to hear you being asked why you don’t have a penis.
  • If you can swing it, consider paying for a one-day pass to an airport lounge. Delta has one in Detroit and I think their passes are $50 for the day. That may or may not include the children’s admittance, so you’ll have to look into it. But lounges usually have kid rooms that aren’t as chaotic as the general concourse. We love the American Airlines lounge at LAX.
  • Bring along a “Prize Pack.” This is basically just a bag full of little $1 toys, books, lollipops, etc. that you can use as leverage. “Behave for the next twenty minutes and you’ll get to grab something from the prize pack!” Cheap, yet effective tactic.
  • Do not go into the gift shop unless you want to hear them cry because you won’t buy them a $15.99 toy airplane. That’s just setting yourself up for trouble.
  • Walk around the entire airport at least once. I’m serious—take a long stroll that’ll tire them out. You’ll eventually find an empty area where they can run around like ferrets and burn off even more energy.

But my most important tip is for you to just take a deep breath and relax, mama. It’s only four hours (or two viewings of Magic Mike) and it’s really not going to be as bad as you think. And even if it is that bad and you find yourself hiding in an overhead bin while an air marshal looks for you, I wouldn’t freak out. Most airlines won’t follow through with their threats to sue you for letting your children open the Emergency Exit doors mid-flight.

At least that’s what my legal counsel tells me.

Good luck!

Wendi, TMH

10 Responses to “Traveling With Kids and Other Things That’ll Make You Call Your Pharmacist”


Comment by Sally.

Not the Delta lounge in Detroit! Noisy kids will not be happy there. There is nothing to do, no kids area and the TV’s are all tuned to financial news reports.

However, the A Concourse has a tram that runs the length of the terminal. That should be good for at least an hour of entertainment. Then head for the lowest gate numbers and the food court. And, if you run out of batteries, there are several places that have batteries.

I agree with TMH, electronics and suspension of all rules about healthy things. You can re-instated your rules about these things after you arrive. For now, just survive the trip.


Comment by Vicky.

My DH has really good airport lounge access as part of his job, but when we went on vacation and stayed in the airport lounge our kids were not well behaved. I wouldn’t suggest taking children to an airport lounge, because there isn’t enough to keep them entertained – or quiet!!


Comment by StephanieG.

I think you’re in luck. With the current airlines on-time records, I’m sure your layover will be almost cut in half because your originating flight will almost certainly land late. Of course, that just swaps your time in the airport for time in a plane!!

I’m all about the Prize Pack. Although we don’t travel by air, we spend a significant amount of time driving. When LittleG was the age of your kids, I went to Dollar Tree and stocked up on a ton of cheapie toys that I could dish out as needed.

One of her favorites turned out to be a photo cube, which I had filled with pictures of her grandparents, our dogs, and a family photo with the three of us.

She’s eight now and still remembers that trip, especially all the time we spent talking about/looking at the photo cube.

You could make your own picture book using a color printer. Little ones never seem to tire of seeing pictures of themselves and those they love.

Good luck and happy travels!!


Comment by Big ol' B with a capital B.

Great advice all the way around!


Comment by rojopaul.

What great advice, Wendi, and the rest of the commenters too! Did I see anyone mention earbuds? They are good for the electronic games or listening to music on cell phones if they don’t have ipods like my girls. I love the idea of riding the trams around. Sounds fun! Worst case scenario, if you are prepared and things don’t go so well, just tell yourself you’ll never see these people again. ha


Comment by Plano Mom.

If there’s the moving sidewalks there, have races where one kid walks on the people mover, and the other kid races him on the regular walk. Most people don’t mind moving over to the right for a laughing running boy.


Comment by MommyTime.

Detroit is my local airport. Here are my best suggestions:

In Councourse A, right in the center, there is a fountain that fascinates kids (adults too, though for less time). It has varieties of timed jets of water that make different patterns. Walk to that, hang out for 20 minutes or so, walking around it, counting how many jets there are, clapping in time to them, etc., Then go up the nearby stairs to the tram that runs the length of the terminal. Ride it to one end. Get off. Ride it all the way to the other end. Get off. Ride it to the middle. Get off, come down the stairs. LOOK! It’s a magic train that takes you back to the awesome fountain!! This should occupy you for at least an hour.

Then, snacks.

The tunnel that connects Terminal A to B&C has both moving sidewalks and a colorful (read: drug-induced and surreal) light-and-music display. The will also enjoy checking that out and riding the moving sidewalks back and forth.

There is also a small children’s play area somewhere in Terminal A, with a few soft things they can climb/tumble around on, if I’m remembering correctly.

Hopefully, this keeps you occupied. (Of course, it will all be a lot easier if you’ve packed strategically, checked one bag, and don’t have anything to carry except a backpack carry-on.) Good luck!


Comment by MommyTime.

Also: mini dry-erase boards and a small pack of colorful dry-erase pens are invaluable. They can draw, color, etc., to their hearts’ content, and you don’t have any pieces of paper to lug around.


Comment by Mexmom.

My bribe of choice is fast food, my son loves traveling because he always gets a hapy meal at the airport.
And there is some airports that have a little play area or arcade games, so look for something like that.


Comment by Ester.

Good advice, Mommytime! I forgot about the trippy tunnel – its so out of place! I always laugh in there, as in: ‘What the hell?’ that should entertain the kiddos for a bit. The fountain is great too!

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