October 18 2008 by Amy Graff
Rule #3: Always travel with a superhero.
Before we ran out the door to catch our flight to Philadelphia, Dante said, "I want my cape."
"Your what?" I asked.
"What are you talking about?" My brain doesn't function well at 4:30 a.m.
Dante walked me to his bedroom and pointed to the silky, red superhero cape hanging on a hook. "Sure. Whatever," I thought, snapping the cape around his neck.
At the airport, my superhero and I received friendly service and lots of attention. When we went to check in, the ticket agent directed us to the shorter business class line. "He's just so cute! We can't let Superman wait in line." At security, people helped us feed all of our stuff through the X-ray machine. "Oh, Superman let me help you. You need to save your strength." And as we walked to our gate, nearly every other person stopped to say something: "Can I borrow that?"; "I feel so much safer now that I know Superman is at the airport"; "It's a bird! It's a plane..." Dante confidently marched through the airport as if he were a celebrity.
On the plane, the special treatment continued: "Superman, you need to meet the captain of the plane after we land"; "Superman, you need an extra package of pretzels so you have energy to save people"; "Superman, would you like another glass of apple juice?"
When we arrived in Atlanta (a stopover en route to Philly), the landing was bumpy and the plane dipped and dived. I nervously gripped my armrests. "It's OK Mommy. I can save us," Dante reassured me. That's when I realized that I'm always traveling with a superhero.
Rule #4: Never pass up an airport playground.
After a delay in Atlanta, we finally arrived in Philadelphia at 7 p.m.--and Dante was exploding with energy. As we were walking to baggage claim, he spotted a play area for kids. "I want to go there!" Dante squealed. I was eager to get into town but how could I deny my son who endured 10 hours of traveling a chance to play.
Dante got all his ya-yas out at the Aviation Play Station in Terminal D at Philadelphia International Airport. He zipped down the slide, played pilot in a mini jet, and refueled a plane at a pint-size gas pump (pictured above).
To find more airport play areas check out the Kids' Guide to Airport Amusements at CheapFlights. Do you have a favorite airport play area?
Rule #5: Stay at hotels with friendly front-desk staff.
It's not every front-desk clerk who offers advice on footwear. "Make sure to wear sensible shoes," said Chris Lesnewski, who mans the desk at the Best Western Independence Park Hotel in old town Philadelphia. "When they laid the cobblestone roads in Philadelphia high heels didn't exist."
Lesnewski is just the sort of guy you want greeting you when you check in to a hotel. He's quirky, charming, and funny and knows everything there is to know about Philly. "You'll probably want to visit Independence Hall. You need tickets for that--you can get them for free at the visitor center," he told us, pulling out a map of the city.
When I asked for a restaurant recommendation, Lesnewski's eyes lit up. "What are you in the mood for?" he inquired. "Do you want Japanese, Indian, Belgian, American, Afghani...?" I mentioned Monk's Cafe, which a friend recommended. "They serve an amazing trout," he said.
Right before we hopped into the elevator to go to our room, Lesnewski added, "You need to take the little one to the Franklin Museum. It's a hands-on museum, where he can touch everything. He'll love it."