Planning the Adventure
It's great if you have some significant lead time to plan and organize your trip. You'll be a lot less stressed if you have plenty of time to make additional arrangements, prepare the kids for the big trip, and pack. Planning time is also a great way to get the kids excited and make them especially cooperative! Tell them about the fun beaches, the activities, and what a great time you'll all be having. Discuss the options, and ask what they might like to see and do.
School-age kids can sometime provide a dilemma. Some parents are reluctant to take their children on vacation during the school year, and some schools frown on it. On the other hand, travel is always a great educational opportunity, and it sure beats sitting in the same old classroom day after day. If you choose to bring the children during the school year, see what can be arranged with their homework. A little homework can be a great way to spend time while traveling on the plane. It also requires a little discipline to make sure the work gets done among the many wonderful distractions in Hawaii! Perhaps the kids can share their learning experience with their classmates by giving a little presentation upon their return.
Getting ready for a trip can even serve as an educational opportunity. You can tell your kids about various aspects of your destination or have them read for themselves if they're old enough. (It's a nice idea to do this during the trip as well!) Get a map out, and show them where you're all going.
The Right Flight for You
Unless you're on a cruise ship leaving the mainland, in which case you're basically in a floating hotel and recreation center, a minimum five hours of flight is necessary, and that's if you're leaving from the West Coast. If you're coming from the east, you might be looking at ten hours or more to get to the islands. Depending on the age and temperament of your kids, this might be a time of peace and tranquility as the little infant sleeps, or it might be a seemingly endless period of aggravation for you and those around you as your toddler demands constant attention and entertainment. The scenario is unpredictable.
To promote the best possible outcome, it's probably wise to minimize travel time as much as possible by finding a direct flight to Hawaii. This will help eliminate some of the stress involved in catching connecting flights and long waits in between. Nonstop flights are great if you can manage them or are lucky enough to live close enough to a city with such service.
When making your reservations, make sure you specify that children are flying. Some airlines provide reduced fares for children (12 and under), and youngsters under two can usually fly for free if they sit on a parent's lap. You'll also want to inquire about children's eals on your flight. Some airlines offer some pretty good alternatives to the usual “adult” fare.
Having kids along should influence your seat selection. You'll want adjacent seats for the whole family and certainly an adult sitting next to the younger ones. The aisle seats make it easier for kids to get out and go to the lavatory, but keep in mind that it's possible for little dangling arms and legs to get hit by the heavy food and drink carts coming down the aisle. It might be best to keep the small kids in the middle seat or next to the window, where they can entertain themselves with the view.
Sitting in a bulkhead row (facing a wall or divider) provides extra legroom where toddlers can play. Some aircraft have bassinets for infants that attach to the bulkhead. Keep in mind, though, that there's no underseat storage in such rows, so all of your carry-on bags will have to go in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing.
Some say that a hotel is a hotel, and if it meets some basic price requirements, it will be just fine. Younger kids in general probably aren't too picky about where they happen to stay, but it might be worth the effort to investigate the possibilities to find a choice that might be just right for your family.
The information provided in this book will allow you to investigate and contact candidates for your home away from home. Consider amenities like swimming pools, proximity to the beach and activities, or any other requirements that you think might be desirable. Some hotel chains, such as Aston, Outrigger, and Four Seasons are especially child-friendly and typically have activity programs or activity discounts.
Renting a Car
When renting a car, plan ahead. Car seats, strollers, and assorted luggage that might accompany a family take up more room than you think. There's also the possibility that you might be returning from a car trip with more stuff than you arrived with, and it all needs to fit somewhere.
Many teenagers like to drive, but they probably won't get to drive your rental car. Most car rental agencies require that drivers be at least twenty-one years old and preferably twenty-five.