Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How to Plan a Hawaii Vacation: 6 Things to Know Before You Book

Sunset in Hawaii; worth the trip
With unrest in Europe and hurricane season in the Caribbean, the appeal of a Hawaiian vacation is growing. Add in the fact that you don’t need a passport or a Zika concern, and Hawaii is even more tempting.

1. Get ready for a lo-o-o-o-ng flight
One of the benefits to Hawaii - its uniqueness - is also a drawback. It is remote. Even if you live on the west coast, you are facing a five to six hour flight, and if you are on the other side of the country? It’s like two back to back trips from NYC to LAX. Plus there’s the huge time difference.

If you are taking little kids, or anyone who frequently gets ants in her pants, your best bet is to tucker them out before you get on the plane. This could mean not pre-boarding; once you get on the plane, kids pretty much have to stay buckled in while every other zone boards. So you might not be able to claim overhead space. My husband and I would divide and conquer before a long flight when our three kids were little - one of us would board early with, say a diaper bag or stroller, just to look legit during that family boarding time, while the other would stay in the airport, running circles around the gate.

2. What is there to do on board?
Let kids watch movies on a long flight. Credit: Jana Seitzer
If you are one of those parents who like to limit screen time, great! But loosen the rules on the flight. If your kid loves the movie Frozen and can watch it a coupe of times in a row, that is hours of stress free flying time.

Long books are great on the flight, as well as workbooks. My kids loved filling those out, and if we gave them pencils, they invariably broke the point. Then we could go through a whole ritual of sharpening the pencil, which eats up more time; this is one of those cases where more is more. Hard to open, individually wrapped string cheese takes longer to eat than a slice of American cheese, so it's a better bet for a long flight.

3. Where to go in Hawaii? Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island?
This is easy - whatever is easiest to get to. That romantic resort where you honeymooned, that required a boat trip, or a short second flight to another island? Out. I say go to whatever island has a nonstop from your home airport, or the least amount of travel time. If you are lucky enough to have a vacation of over a week, you can venture away from the main islands, but for a family vacation with little kids, stick to the most convenient areas. It’s all still paradise.

4. When should you go to Hawaii?
If you are taking school age, even preschool children, you might want to take your Hawaiian vacation over the December holidays, spring break or summer. Any time is fine, just make sure to book well in advance. 

5. What should you do with kids in Hawaii?
This is easy, too - there are so many kids friendly activities, from spending long days at the beach to taking hikes to waterfalls, to learning about Hawaiian culture. 

Cherimoya, one of the exotic fruits you can find in Hawaii
A big part of our travel always involves food and in Hawaii, kids can sample an enormous variety of exotic fruit. Be warned that they can develop an affinity for expensive tropical fruit. My youngest daughter was addicted to star fruit for awhile and we indulged her passion since she wasn’t a huge fruit eater. In addition to the expected pineapple and papaya, you find cherimoya, guava, passion fruit and lichees.

Westin Villas in Hawaii. Credit: Vacatia
This is one of the advantages of having a kitchen when you travel to Hawaii; you can pick up loads of exotic fruit and make fruit salad in your condo (see below). For our vegetarian family, a kitchen means we can prepare food if we can't find enough vegetarian-friendly restaurant food.

6. Hotel or condo: which is better?
Hotel aficionados prefer staying in hotels for all the services; vacationers who like condos point to all the space they get in a condo. Staying in a resort residence offers the best of both worlds: hotel services like daily maid cleaning along with the extras of a condo like a full kitchen and a living room.

If you are booking in Maui, you have a pool and the Hawaiian beaches nearby.

Note: This post is sponsored by Vacatia. Opinions expressed are my own.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! I went to Hawaii as a kid and have always wanted to go back. Now that I have to plan the trip myself, it seems daunting. These tips make it so much easier!