Sometimes it feels like half of parenting is waiting for your kid to go to sleep, and the other half is staring saucer-eyed at the ceiling in a panic over how you’re going to manage the next time you have to travel with your kid. How will you get to your seats? Will there be changing tables in every bathroom, or just one in the back of the plane? What toys under $10 will give you the most number of uninterrupted minutes for your buck? I’m panicking already. But one mother on Reddit has some advice about traveling with kids: Bring a bag of balloons.

Over on Reddit’s Parenting forum, a user named orchid_breeder submitted a Life Pro Tip about bringing balloons along on trips to keep kids entertained.

LPT: travelling with kids? Bring some balloons with you. They take up no space, and are great for airports, especially on the way home when the kids are sick of all the toys they brought,” she wrote. “Many times I have been saved travelling with balloons. We’ve played with them in a hotel room when the kid need to get energy out. And when I had a plane that was delayed at O’hare I was able to whip out a balloon that was in my carry on & blow it up. We found a gate that was empty and play volleyball over the seats for 90 minutes before the plane boarded. There’s almost infinite games you can invent with a balloon, and they work as well for 15 year olds as they do for 2 year olds. All hail the great balloon.

PS. its fun for me too.”

That’s a pretty good idea! Balloons do fit down in the bottom of your bag, and you can toss them to a kid with no trouble. I’m skeptical about them working as well for 15-year-olds as for 2-year-olds, because if my mother had tried to give me a balloon when our flight was delayed when I was 15, I would have given her the mother of all surly teen eye rolls. But a 2-year-old will do anything for a balloon, and a 15-year-old can just be told to read a book and deal with the delay like a grown-up, so we don’t have to worry about them.

Other parents pointed out that balloons pop quite easily, and questioned the logic of bringing one on the plane.

“A popping balloon on an airplane or in an airport sounds like a bad experience waiting to happen.”

“Yeah, a loud bang followed by screaming and crying, hmmm.”

Orchid_breeder clarified that she did not mean for anybody to bring the balloons on the plane, just for them to be used in the terminal while waiting for a flight. Kids are not very good at waiting, and getting them to run around a bit before the plane could hopefully help keep them quieter on the flight. A lot of airlines don’t allow balloons on flights because the changing air pressure can make them pop.

Other parents offered variations on the theme. One woman carries around latex gloves and when the kids are acting rowdy she asks if they want a special “doctor balloon,” in which case she blows up the glove like a balloon, and the kids think that’s hilarious.

Another woman going by ally-saurus offered her own take on the original tip, which is that inflatable beach balls work the same way, but are far less poppable and less of a choking hazard than balloons. She recommended using the ball for games at an empty terminal to get the kids to run off some energy, then squishing the ball flat again before getting on the plane.

Inflatable toys are a pretty good travel hack. And if they fail, you can always toss them your phone.

What do you think of balloons at airports? Let us know in the comments.

H/T CafeMom

(Image: iStockPhoto / ulkas)