I had A LOT of questions DM’d to me on Instagram while we were away on our winter vacation to Hawaii this year. The majority of them were associated with travelling with children so I figured instead of just sharing some pictures of our trip on the blog I would open this post up on Instagram to a Q&A from you guys. I’ve rounded up the 10 most common questions that I was asked and combined some of the similar ones together to make things a bit easier.
Here they are!
1. How did you survive the drastic time change with two little ones? The time change between Winnipeg and Hawaii this time of year is 4 hours, with Winnipeg being 4 hours ahead of Hawaii. We flew out early in the morning from Winnipeg at 6:00 am and arrived in Hawaii at 2:00 pm local time, which meant it was actually 6:00 pm Winnipeg time. By the time we got our luggage and rental vehicle, and drove the almost hour to the area we were staying, it was definitely past the kid’s bedtimes. Our son fell asleep on the car ride to the hotel but our daughter managed to stay awake, likely due to all her excitement! When she’s focused on something, like getting to the hotel, it’s much easier to push her to stay awake. We all ended up going to bed around 7:30 pm local time, which meant it was 11:30 pm Winnipeg time. Our son does better overall in terms of lack of sleep and his one hour cat nap in the car seemed to help him stay in positive spirits. He never fussed that evening, but did pass out the minute his head was placed down in the crib. Seeing him fall asleep that night was the cutest thing ever! During the first night out there, he did wake up at 4:00 am which is 8:00 am Winnipeg time and his usual time of waking when we are at home. When he woke, I went into his room and soothed him by laying him back down and singing to him until he fell asleep about twenty minutes later, which I never do at home! I followed my sleep training mentality and didn’t pick him up to soothe him as I know he connects being picked up with getting up for the day. Our daughter had no issues with waking in the night while on our trip. Our thought was, if we can get the kids to stay up on the first day while everyone’s excited, it would start to push them towards their new routine. On the second day, we put them to nap a little earlier and also got them to bed earlier, around 6:30 pm Hawaii time. Slowly we pushed the bedtime each night by about half an hour until we got to 8:00 pm Hawaii time. The kids did so well!
We didn’t eat out the first few nights as that’s something we learned the hard way after travelling with our daughter to Hawaii at 20 months. Those first couple of nights eating out dinners were awful, as she couldn’t keep herself together as she adjusted to the new time zone. So this time, we ate in the first few nights and let the kids run around and do their thing.
When we got home, the adjustment back was a bit harder. It took the kids about four days to adjust back to their old Winnipeg routine. Our daughter woke up the first night but since she’s older she understood she needed to go back to bed. It took her a while but she patiently waited it out in her bed. Our son woke up the second night back at home, very similar to what he did in Hawaii, so once again I sang to him to soothe him. It was definitely a bit harder to get him to fall back asleep and he was up about an hour in total but eventually he fell back asleep. Other than one night each, we didn’t have any other issues once we got back home. Luckily, we had planned it out so we came back on a Friday ensuring we had two days at home with the kids to help them adjust before we had to go back to work on Monday.
2. How was the long flight with two kids? How did you occupy them? The long flight was a long fight, I won’t sugar coat it! But we suck it up because we know how amazing the reward is once we are in Hawaii! Last time we went to Maui with our daughter we stayed overnight in a hotel, both on the way down and on the way home. This time we stayed overnight in Vancouver on the way home but I felt on the way down, it wasn’t necessary. We took an early morning flight out of Winnipeg, as I previously mentioned with a very short layover. Just enough time to grab food, do a potty break and get to our next flight. Our son is a busy guy and is at the age where he likes to explore and move about freely. Once we were on the airplane, I made sure not to let him walk on his own because I knew if I gave him a taste of freedom, it would have been harder to stop him from wandering the next time he wanted to, but couldn’t. We occupied him on our laps with his sister’s toys and games. We also had A LOT of snacks. I always overpack snacks for the kids to keep them happy and give them options to prevent any unnecessary meltdowns from occurring. For my daughter, I did what I have done in the past. I packed some of the travel/restaurant toys I shared here including the Magna Doodle and Moana stuck-on window toys. I also packed her little carry on suitcase with a bunch of new dollar store items that she had never seen before. I switched them out when she got bored on the airplane, but was careful not to show her the other toys I had hiding or the impact would have been lost. Instead, I gave her one new toy at a time until she became bored of it and then I would trade it out for a new one. I’ve done this twice before on airplanes and it’s always worked! I also purchased a new Play-Doh kit (a Little Mermaid one) which occupied her for quite some time on the plane. It makes a bit of a mess, but who cares! We brought along our iPad as well and she watched maybe an hour and a half in total between the two flights on the way down. Unless it’s YouTube (which we heavily restrict) she doesn’t care for the iPad that much. On the way home she was a much more tired and used the iPad a bit more.
3. Do you recommend the DockATot over a Pack and Play? I think they serve different purposes, at least for me. We don’t co-sleep so I did not use the DockATot for anything other than my son’s outdoor naps which I talked about in this post. This was actually our first trip that we didn’t bring our own Pack and Play (we typically bring our Nuna Sena everywhere) as we ended up requesting a hotel crib for our son in order to minimize the amount of baby items we had to bring with. If you don’t want to use the hotel crib and don’t co-sleep then I think bringing a Pack and Play at the age my son is at would be necessary.
4. What did you do for food for your children? Where did you eat out? Food was a HUGE problem the last time we went to Hawaii with our daughter and I vowed after that trip that when we went back, I would do things differently. The reason it was a huge problem last time is that we wasted so much food on her when we ate out. She’s like most kids, slightly on the pickier side and independent, meaning she didn’t want to share our meals. During our last trip, at each restaurant I would end up ordering a kid’s plate and sometimes a milk or chocolate milk as a treat, only to see her drink half the beverage (which they charge separate for out there) and barely touch her food. I’d pack up the leftovers and sometimes she’d eat a bit of it for lunch the next day, but not always. It made me sick how much we were spending in Canadian dollars on these meals, which I was essentially throwing away. Towards the end of the first trip I smartened up and started to bring cut up fruit with us, which usually was enough for her at that time. This trip, I did that again for both kids. I brought my own foods to restaurants such as fruit and veggies, Love Child granola bars, Love Ducks, crackers and pouches (as our son still enjoys them). And instead of paying 4 USD for milk I started to fill up my daughter’s thermos at the hotel with whatever beverage she wanted that night and not one person at any restaurant blinked an eye at us. I still ended up ordering kid’s meals often during this trip, mostly at dinner, because we now have two kids (who eat the same amount, haha) so the amount of waste was much less. Not ordering beverages though definitely helped reduce the costs.
Some places we recommend for dinner’s out that are more kid friendly:
Monkey Pod – they give free noodles for kids, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Duke’s (on the property we stayed at), Hula Grill and Hula Grill’s Barefoot Beach Bar. Honestly though, we never stopped ourselves from going anywhere we wanted to go for dinner. Instead, we just looked at the menu ahead of time and planned accordingly. The only thing we did different as I mentioned before, was avoid restaurants for the first 2-3 days when we arrived while the kids adjusted to the time change. After that, we always made reservations online ahead of time which helped in terms of not having to wait for our table. The kids did great overall, but we do eat out a fair amount at home so restaurant life is quite normal for them.
5. Did you bring your daughter’s car seat onto the airplane or did you check it? We did not bring our daughter’s car seat onto the airplane. I considered it, but my husband didn’t want to lug it onto the plane. Our daughter is super good at following the rules when we set them out at the beginning and we stick to them. But, if we give her an inch, she’ll take a mile and fight us. So we told her on the first flight that she had to wear her seatbelt whenever she was in her seat and the seatbelt sign was on and she followed that. She did however, refuse to nap on the way down and I wonder if she was in her car seat if she would have fallen asleep as she always does in our car. Either way, her being in a regular seat wasn’t a problem for us, despite not having her usual nap as she was excited about the trip and remained happy the whole flight!
6. How did you book your hotel? We booked our hotel through the hotel. We did not use AirBNB or HomeAway as people have asked. I like booking through the hotel because then we can charge things to the room, which is easier for us throughout the day when we are by the pool, etc. It also allows us to access all the amenities through the hotel rather than have to deal with an additional company. However, if the price had been much less with a rental company then we would have definitely been open to booking through them.
7. How did the kid’s bedtime and nap routine work being on vacation and with the time change? I discussed this a bit already in my vacation nap time post and in question #1, but mostly it didn’t change all that much. We pushed both kids the first day to stay up with us and match Maui time. Then we had our naps/bedtime a bit earlier than usual the first two days but by the third day they were on a Maui schedule. Naps were around 1:00 pm each day (and we stuck to it) and bedtime was around 8:00 pm, just like they it would have been at home. We didn’t wake our daughter up during her naps out there as we do at home (otherwise her bedtime is affected at home) because she was obviously more exhausted out there and needed the rest. She was also getting a little less sleep out there then she would have at home, as we were all getting up earlier in the mornings.
8. What must haves did you pack for the kids and yourself? And was there anything you would leave out next time? I don’t feel like we really overpacked anything for this trip, in fact we only took one large suitcase and two small carry on suitcases for the four of us in terms of clothing and belongings. We don’t usually pack things like diapers (except for what we need for about two days), swim diapers or sun tan lotions for ourselves as we can buy all that stuff when we get down there. We tend to use a lot of it up and only take home what’s left which reduces the weight of the suitcase on the way down. We passed on our Nuna Sena this time, as I previously mentioned and swapped it out for the DockATot instead. We brought our own car seats as well as our double stroller. We also brought along a travel booster seat, which I realize could have all been rented out there but I would rather use our own stuff and save some money in that area. The travel booster seat we brought was a great fit for our son and was a must have to bring along for the age our son is at. For both kids, I packed sand toys, which we haven’t done before. In the past, we have bought a new set while out there and then passed them onto another kid at the resort before we left. Since I know what my daughter likes out of our stuff and the pieces were fairly small, I brought our own this time. I actually was able to stuff them inside of the travel booster seat which was super easy and also helped prevent getting sand all over our clothes! I’ve linked the booster seat we brought here for anyone curious. Another must have to bring along was my daughter’s swim vest so she could be independent in the pool. We packed along our swan float for my son but probably could have left it behind as he didn’t want to use it all that much this trip, being that he is more independent at this age. My daughter was never really a fan of the floats but my son at 6 months really enjoyed it, so you just never really know! For myself, the only must have is my own pillow. I always bring it with me because if I am not getting a good night’s sleep, then you won’t want to be around me, haha! I actually checked it this time in the DockATot Transport bag which was great. We also brought along a little cooler bag, two ice packs, kid’s cutlery and Tupperware which were handy for the kid’s lunches and snacks by the pool as well as when we went out for dinners. We brought our own Swell bottles and Thermos containers for water/drinks which we always do on hot vacations. We packed two sound machines, our daughter’s Gro Clock and one baby monitor for our son’s naps. Because our daughter was so excited about the trip she would have definitely been waking earlier in the mornings if it wasn’t for the Gro Clock keeping her in bed longer. Our kids both use sound machines at home and we definitely needed them out there as well. All these items took up a lot of space but they were all worth it in terms of making sure our kids got a good night’s rest so we could all be happy together in the daytime!
9. Do you have any baby friendly sunscreen suggestions that you use? My friend bought me Coola before our last vacation to Phoenix and I absolutely LOVED it, especially for the kids. The spray bottle was so easy to use on our son when he was a baby. It protected the kids while not leaving stains or white residue on bathing suits like other brands have.
10. What area did you stay in in Maui and what was the name of your hotel? Have you stayed at that hotel before? And is there any other place you’d recommend to stay in Maui with kids? We have always stayed in the Kaanapali area in Maui. It’s definitely our favourite! We love that Front Street is close by and that there are MANY restaurants to choose from in the area, both inside the hotels and not. Our favourite place to stay is right on Kaanapali Beach so we can access the boardwalk in front of all the hotels to walk along in the mornings/evenings as well to have easy access to restaurants. I love being able to put the kids in the stroller for dinner and walk rather than load them up into the car. Being outside is what Hawaii is all about! We also love going to Whaler’s Village for dinners, shopping and music/events. It’s also in walking distance from all the hotels we have stayed at and is right on Kaanapali Beach. I am interested in staying in the Wailea area one day, but for right now Kaanapali feels like home to us and we love our routines in that area!
The hotel we stayed at this last time was called Honua Kai. We have stayed there twice before but not with children. It’s a hotel but all the rooms are suites with full kitchens and laundry. It’s further down the Kaanapali Beach strip but is still in walking distance to Whaler’s Village and all the other hotels. We loved this hotel for life with little kids because of the conveniences. Being able to cook the majority of our own breakfasts and lunches made life easier and allowed us to spend more time at the pool (instead of packing up the kids to go out to eat) and we obviously saved money too. We have done a condo in the Kaanapali area before but I love the amenities associated with a hotel. I like the resort style feel but as I said before, I also like the fact that we can order food and beverages by the pool, eat onsite and access a little store in the lobby if we need anything (like Tylenol when both children got sick :() We have stayed at the Hyatt Maui on the Kaanapali Beach strip with just our daughter before and our favourite part about it was the kid’s pool. The kid’s pool at Honua Kai is great but isn’t as big as the Hyatt Maui and doesn’t have a little kid’s water slide, but it’s definitely a close second, hence why we chose it. A lot of the other resorts have nice areas for older kids but not as great for little ones. We checked out the Westin Nanea right next door to Honua Kai (it was just recently built) and they have an awesome little kid’s area which might even be better than the Hyatt, but it’s definitely more expensive. The problem with the Hyatt for us was that it only offers standard hotel rooms, not suites, which isn’t ideal when the kids are going to bed earlier. But even despite that, I especially couldn’t get past not having laundry or a full kitchen when travelling with two little kids. For the price, location and amenities, Honua Kai was a perfect fit for our Hawaiian family vacation!