If life's about the journey, does it matter how many bathroom breaks you take along the way?

I love traveling with my children, especially now that they can schlep my bags. But there was a time when I actually had to haul them around the airport, and that kind of sucked.

Nothing ruins a brand new pedicure like a toddler who’s broken free of his LoJack-inspired five point harness stroller restraints and is stomping on your airport-inappropriate footwear in an impromptu game of “Slam My Sister’s Face Into The Moving Sidewalk” to pass away the painful minutes of a four hour flight delay due to a malfunctioning windshield wiper.

Trust me on that.

These toes are traveling sans-children. Image via Stacie Chadwick, who, by the way, is traveling without children this weekend.

As I stood solo* in the security line this morning en route to L.A. with a cold latte in one hand, a People magazine under my arm, and my iPhone camera balanced on top of my fingertips in an effort to find out if the plane was gonna crash through some kind of free palm reading app called “Lose Those Lines On Your Face, But Use The Ones On Your Hand!” I came across something I found incredibly disturbing.

Palm Reading: “My apologies, but the clairvoyant Madame McBouvier cannot predict your future at this time because she can’t see through those nasty spider veins popping out of the top of your hand. Please try again after visiting your friendly, neighborhood plastic surgeon for a quick tune-up, preferably with a sandblaster.” Image via Stacie Chadwick.

To the naked, un-potty trained eye, the picture below captures the look of a happy, self-reliant two year-old, and that’s where I have a problem. When I traveled with children back in the Mesozoic Era, there was no such thing as a happy, self-reliant two year-old. Not even close.

Why isn’t this kid screaming for her pacifier at the top of her lungs while simultaneously upchucking organic acai berry juice all over her mother’s airport-inappropriate footwear and demanding her parents sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in two-part harmony while a steady lava-like flow of snot erupts from her left nostril?”

Problem #1: The Ride

This genius contraption actually has a collapsible handle and is designed so that the toddler-in-transit is positioned backwards. Perfectly placed, she requires no face-to-face human interaction and can be rocked to sleep while her parents use three unencumbered hands to enjoy unlimited Mai Tais and plot their upcoming vacation using the free palm reading app their two year-old downloaded on the way to the airport.

Problem #2: The Portfolio

This cherubic child is holding an iPhone, probably a 5. As her parents wait patiently at the gate three Mai Tais down, she’s killing it trading oil futures. While they get tanked, she’s getting rich, lining mom’s and dad’s IRAs as she doubles down against the Fed.

Problem #3: The Luggage Tag

Notice that this kid is pre-approved as a carry-on. This means her parents get to send her down the jetway with the strollers, and stow her under the bulkhead area of the plane with all of the tiny, kenneled rat-dogs while they suck down even more Mai Tais, use the palm reading app to predict coastal surf conditions, buy a vacation home in Cabo with all their extra cash, and power nap.

I left my baby in baggage claim!

Why do I have a problem with all of this? Because it’s not me. Not even close. But it could be you. If you’re wondering whether or not to have a child in this uncertain economy, I say go for it. Things have changed. While I bask in the glow of a child-free trip to California funded entirely by American Express, you’ll be catching waves in Mexico, drinking Mai Tais on your lanai, and wondering what took you so long.

*Solo: verb /ˈsōlō/ Perform something unaccompanied.

Notice the bold, italicized letters in the text. This refers not to some mind-crushing revelation that will change your life. It’s about a mind-crushing revelation that changed mine: travel without children.

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51 thoughts on “How To Check Your Kid As A Carry-On And Get Rich At The Same Time

  1. aparnauteur says:

    Touché to your travel without children policy! But, if you do choose to, this nifty thing is genius! What would make it closer to the baby-free experience is if it had some breathable sound-proof capsule around it. Coz nothing says kids like a ear-shattering wail!

    1. Soundproofing. That’s genius. You’d better right that down somewhere before someone in airport-inappropriate footwear tries to steal it from you. =) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Although I can’t complain–my kids were always great travelers–there is not much more liberating than taking a solo trip. Nobody to mess up the hotel room, no one’s teeth but your own to worry about. Have fun!

    1. My kids were great travelers too but I like to give them a hard time as part of my “Life 101” plan for them to never attempt to live in our creepy basement. Ever.

      Thanks for the comment, Carrie. Hope you’re well and working through your next novel. My outlining starts in earnest on Monday, but I think I said the exact same thing to you a few weeks ago. Or it’s deja vu. Or we’re from the same light family. Or it’s late. Or something. =)

      1. Carrie Rubin says:

        Well, I’ve been saying the same thing about my outline, so don’t feel bad.

  3. I didn’t really have to worry about this…I could never afford to travel..avec or sans kids. My worst adventure with them though would have to be an 11 hour bus trip, 7 months pregnant with an 18 month old. Longest 11 hours of my life.

      1. Sorry….that last post was for another comment I made containing a typo…jesus Im tired.

      2. I get it. I’m usually long past gone by now, but traveling an hour west has me all messed up. =p

    1. Yikes. I feel for you Wendy. Mine were all 22 months apart (by “all” I mean three), and there were a couple of years when anything outside of walking to the park was a huge headache. Thanks for stopping by…how are you?

      1. Better now, thanks for asking Stacie. I’ll be going back to work on Wednesday.. 🙂

  4. I especially love that awesome one-sentence second paragraph. Also the caption of photo #3. Comic genius.

    1. Awww, thanks for the lovely comment. I kept messing with that sentence/paragraph, and finally realized it worked best as a complete run-on. My high school English teachers are rolling in their graves, but they’re dead anyway, so who cares? =)

  5. See, when my kids were that age, we were too damn poor to go anywhere so I never had that kind of problems. There.

    1. Good point SSG. Due to the overwhelming abundance of divorced parents in both my husband’s and my families, we’re forced to spend any and all potential savings getting from point A to point B, sometimes all at the same time. Thanks for the visit…I hope you’re doing well!

  6. bronxboy55 says:

    Here’s yet another tribute to your writing skills, Stacie. I loved this sentence — “While they get tanked, she’s getting rich, lining mom’s and dad’s IRAs as she doubles down against the Fed” — and I don’t even know what it means. I hope your trip is as great as this post. Greater, even.

    1. Thanks, Charles. It’s fun to try and flex my voice a little. It’s also fun to be in L.A. enjoying a little downtime. Thanks for stopping by. You always make me smile. =)

  7. I travel, a lot. In fact so much I am a million miler on two airlines. I spend my time in airports scanning the waiting area on the lookout for ill mannered infants and ill prepared parents. I pray to the airport gods these banes of travelers existence will not be seated within 15 rows of me. If those snot nosed children appear to be ready to scream, I pray their parents are uninitiated to travel and have arrived two hours early for their flight, thus are actually waiting for the next flight.

    Flying with children does get better once said children are older. When mine hit pre-teen and above they sat in coach and I sat in First. When asked why I simply pointed out the size of their butts compared to mine and the waste it would be to sit them in First, they didn’t need free drinks, larger seats or a meal.

    Kudos on a wonderful post. Have a great trip.

    1. Valentine, you always have insightful, funny things to say. I love hearing from you, and as much as I love my kids, am enjoying the solitude. =)

  8. All of a sudden, I’m thirsty and very, very jealous!

    1. Me too. Thanks for the comment. =)

  9. While waiting for my plane to board, I always scan the area for crying kids and gum snappers and hope they don’t sit beside me…or behind me…or across from me.

    1. You’d think I’d be sympathetic to crying children, and I usually am. Unless I’m traveling alone. Then it’s a WHOLE other story. So nice to see you here!

  10. WSW says:

    Small children do come in handy occasionally while traveling. During one particularly hideous, airline-induced delay (New Year’s Day in San Juan — I think I need say no more), my then three year-old daughter began to sob uncontrollably when the airline staff member informed me that the only way to get to New York was in five hours on a flight that connected in Boston with a four hour layover at Logan. As if by magic, a big load of snuffling and the words “I don’t want to go to Boston, I want to go HOME” caused three seats to open up on the next direct flight out. The handful of meal vouchers was just gravy at that point.

    Another excellent post, Stacie.

    1. I love how the magic seating genies respond to distressed children. I hop you bought her a pony when you got home. =)

  11. bharatwrites says:

    Now I remember why mom would mutter under her breath while chauffeuring my sister and me through security.
    BTW I got this idea of checking kids in when a 2-hour flight was blighted by a 4-year old’s yelling.

    1. You’re very prescient, Bharat. Rest assured that by the time you have kids, you’ll be able to. =)

  12. I think parents who travel with kids are brave. Even if your kids are well-behaved, other people just HATE seeing you coming. The extra luggage, getting on board first, and the threat of crying the whole flight. It takes guts, seriously.

    Glad you got a little alone time!

    1. Spoken like someone who would make a great mom, or at least, a lot better mom than me. =)

      Love seeing you here Jen!

  13. Laura says:

    Have a fun trip, whatever it’s for! Yes, the pleasure of traveling sans kids is rivaled only by the pleasure of week long sleep-away camp!! Especially when you’ve got a new boyfriend! Then you can stay home OR travel and they won’t even know about it, effectively eliminating the need for “thanks for being a good girl while I was gone” presents. A fine pleasure, that.

    1. Sounds like someone I know has a new boyfriend! Maybe it will inspire a new twist in the subject matter of your posts. =)

      I went to L.A. to visit a dear friend from college who adopted a little boy from Ethiopia. Absolutely beautiful child, inside and out.

      Great to see you here Laura!

  14. Bondseye says:

    That’s funny. You should be getting paid for this, by a magazine or something!

    1. Awww, thanks for the sweet compliment. I’d be happy to be paid just to be a mom. =)

  15. Loved this! “Screaming for her pacifier at the top of her lungs while simultaneously upchucking organic acai berry juice all over her mother’s airport-inappropriate footwear and demanding her parents sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in two-part harmony while a steady lava-like flow of snot erupts from her left nostril” pretty much describes the state of my children every time I traveled with them.
    I’m torn between the outrage that these niceties weren’t available when my kids were smaller and the outrage that you’re in LA and I don’t have the information necessary to successfully stalk you on my home turf. After all, stalking is the sincerest form of flattery.

    1. How did I not know that you live in L.A.? Is it because you guard your privacy so closely that I didn’t know your name for six months, while I, on the other hand, paint my children’s social security numbers across my “about” section on a regular basis?

      Don’t worry, I’ll be back, and it will be me who will track YOU down. I think Sweet Mother is out there too, so we can all do high tea or something. Better yet, something. Like drink. =)

      1. There’s nothing I like more than drinking in the name of professional networking…well except the musical sound of my children’s laughter (did I sell that statement?).
        I hadn’t realized that I was guarding my identity. Apparently I have a future as a super hero or CIA agent. How exciting.
        Next time.

      2. You and Hubs were meant to be. I’ll get in touch before the next trip and we can stalk Sweet Mother together.

    2. sweetmother says:

      fatheads!!! you are in la? i thought you were in sf? cocktails, when? your move…

      1. Well you said the magic word. I’m always ready for a cocktail or really any beverage.

      2. sweetmother says:

        very, very cool. let’s take this off line, shall we? do i have your email, fats? mine is — i feel like we’ve emailed, but i’m not sure. regardless, let’s do it. xo, sm

      3. I’m totally jealous, but I’ll be back, so get ready you two. Something about the glitzy glam glut LA vibe just speaks to me.

        As for Cristy? I think she’s herding goats in some ashram in India. Hopefully she’ll be back soon. =p

      4. sweetmother says:

        oooooooohhhh,that makes so much more sense now. lool. next time you are here, i need to purchase several cocktails for both of us. i’m not kidding, let’s do this. and you summarized la perfectly. it’s like a homeless person with a chanel coat. and it makes me happy-angry. lool. xo, sm

      5. The image of a homeless person with a Chanel coat is now seared into my brain, SM. Cocktails for sure.

      6. sweetmother says:

        i look forward to it!

  16. sweetmother says:

    ok, i’m going to completely ignore the fact that you’re in goddermned la and didn’t email me so we could have a frickin’ cocktail in person. i’m going to ignore this fact, just like i’m ignoring the fact that obama fecked up the last debate. it didn’t happen and you are not here. sigh. do i seem unavailable? it that it? it my ranty persona a chadwick repellent? inquiring minds want to know. and also where in the bloggy feck is cristy? xoxo, sm

  17. “Steady lava flow of snot” ! Ha! That would be my child. I can’t even remember what it’s like to travel solo. I can dream about it though. Great post, Stacie.

    1. Stacie Chadwick says:

      The only thing that horrifies me more than one of my children crying on a plane is flying alone, next to someone else’s child crying on a plane.

      Thanks for the visit Darla!

  18. Okay, here are the things wrong with this picture:
    1) You wore THOSE shoes to walk in the airport? Are you a super hero? Were the balls of your feet injected with Dr. Scholls gel?
    2) Our hands are exactly alike. I am certain that this is why we are Besties.
    3) How many Mai Tais did you have at the airport? I’m thinking you passed…and you clearly regretted that decision all the way through your post. Please tell me you scored some vodka and cranberry on the plane.
    4) That plane should have been headed to Florida. Just sayin’!

    1. 1) Yes. I am a superhero.

      2) See? We were separated at birth and have the next 50+ years to bond, Golden Girls-style.

      3) See answer to point #1.

      4) Touche bestie!

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