Saturday, April 28, 2018

How we Hawaii with kids

I had a couple people ask me how we traveled with 3 kids to Hawaii recently. Before 3, we have taken quite a few flights with Andie and Nolan, and before that we traveled a lot with Andie (we got in as many flights as possible while she was free before 2). We have learned a few things about what works and what doesn't, and each vacation with kids will be different based on what your plans are while there. For example, what makes Hawaii great is that we stayed at our resort most of the time - the ocean and pool were at our doorstep, and we could walk almost anywhere else we wanted to go. That makes it super easy as opposed to a vacation where you are constantly on the go and needing to travel everywhere while there.

How do you fly there with 3? Well, for this trip, Cody was a lap child and Andie and Nolan both had their own seats on the plane. I packed hefty carry-on backpacks for them with all sorts of activities (which really helped Andie especially) and we loaded an iPad for them to watch and keep them occupied. We have a direct flight that lands in Maui with no layovers, so that also makes it super convenient. Side note: Alaska Airlines is fantastic. We have something called the Companion Fares through their credit card. Basically you pay full price for one flight and then bring a second person for $99 (+ taxes & the annual fee which brings it to about $200 total roundtrip). Tim and I both have a credit card and we book one of us with one kid and it significantly saves us! Click here to read more about it - but especially if you are planning on annual air travel to Hawaii, it is absolutely worth it. Anyway - both flights this year with 3 were smooth and the kids were great. The more traveling you do, the more they get used to it. If you get to choose your seats - Tim and Nolan sat in one row and Andie, Cody and I sat in front or behind them.

Do any of your kids ride in a carseat on the plane? This was the first trip Andie didn't have a 5 point harness carseat on the plane, only Nolan. My dad actually purchased a carseat by Diono that can fit into a backpack carrier, which makes it compact enough to carry on the plane. Any carseat you bring on the plane must be approved by TSA (there is a small airplane emblem on the back of this carseat so it makes it obvious for flight attendants). It's not light, but that's why I married a pack mule, I mean man who doesn't mind lugging it on to the plane. Tip... use your umbrella stroller through security/airport and push the carseat on that so you're not carrying it around - then you only have to carry the actual carseat once you gate check the stroller before stepping on the plane. If you have an older child who sits in a booster, bring that along on the airplane. Then both of those can be transferred to a rental car once you land. There is actually a really cool booster that inflates to bring along - I haven't purchased it, but we probably will for our next trip for both Andie and Nolan. Cody's carseat was put into a travel bag and we checked that for free when we got to the airport.

How do you get everything packed and ready for the trip? Ha, this is actually comical when you realize how much crap you have, but remember, it takes a village. Because we had 4 tickets (if you have an Alaska Airlines card each person gets one free checked bag), I packed everything into 4 suitcases. We also had 2 umbrella strollers (which we gate checked in their travel bags), Cody's carseat (checks for free), 4 backpacks (one for each of us), and then Nolan's carseat. For babies, everyone is different about what they pack, but I do pack diapers and wipes to bring along, then it frees up space in your luggage in case you purchase anything. We also had a washer and dryer where we stayed, so I purposely packed less pajamas, etc and did some laundry while there. Because it's Hawaii, I also packed their floaty wings (they're hard to find there), a blow up duck from Target to put Cody in on the beach, bath bombs (the kids love them and it's an incentive to get them in from the pool and they took baths everyday), sunscreen (cheaper than buying there), and all of the regular packing essentials. I had one suitcase for me, Tim had one for him, Andie had hers (which I also packed my breast pump in because I knew I would need it), and then Nolan and Cody shared a large suitcase. Because their clothes are so small, that is where I also packed the floaty wings and extras I named above.

As for getting to the airport, we drove. Tim dropped me, the kids, and allllll of our stuff off at the check in area and I began the process of getting us checked in. My parents and their friends were on our same flight this time, so they were there to help me with the chaos, but in the past when they haven't been, the airline has been super helpful about helping me manage everything. I always make sure we are there early so if I just have to stand there and wait for Tim to park the car in the long term area it won't make us late for our flight. I wore Cody in a carrier and both kids had their umbrella strollers (we open the carseat so we don't have to carry it and sit it on one of the strollers so they can ride, but they usually just run beside the strollers). With the kids, early is key - and make sure everyone goes potty before getting on the plane! Also, plan on taking trips back and forth to the curb when you arrive and get ALL your luggage off the belt - there's definitely some sweat equity and hustle involved.

Hawaii is super kid-friendly - at least where we stay. We stay at the Westin Villas in Kaanapali and it is a wonderful place for families. No one looks at you funny if you breastfeed, your kids can run around everywhere, they have activities and awesome pools (& waterslides), and the beaches are beautiful and easy for swimming. There are also several places to stay on Maui (& other islands, too) that you can find good deals on if you pay attention.

If you have been contemplating taking a trip there but are nervous because your kids are young... don't let the fear of it all stop you from taking the leap. Vacations are different with young kids, obviously, and it's not everyone's cup of tea. But we have really enjoyed seeing them experience it all and it makes for lots of special memories. It can be expensive, but if you stay somewhere with a kitchen you can alleviate some of the cost by stopping by Target or Costco and eating in (which we did for half of the nights), but we personally feel like the best money we spend is for memories with our family. We don't typically buy physical presents for each other, we spend that money on memories. We have also figured out a ton of tips and tricks for traveling there for less money - pay attention to flight deals, travel off-season (if you're willing to take kids out of school), check costco for rental car deals, and plan ahead to know what you need to save up.

I can't think of any other tips for traveling with kids, but we kind of just have a little system now. I do get some anxiety before we fly because I always worry about the kids being good and not disturbing others - but we have been so lucky and they've been great travelers... don't expect to sit back, watch movies and drink mai tais the whole time (unless your kids take 5 hour long naps). I was up, holding Cody, coloring with Andie, busy with them to keep them quiet and satisfied. But it was all worth it and all 3 kids were good! Do you have anything you do that really helps? I am always up for learning more about what works for people. XO


1 comment:

Leslee said...

Great post Tracy! Although I don't travel all the time with my littles, it had some great ideas that I can pass along to my grandbabies parents!!