Choosing Hawaii as your family vacation destination was your first step in pulling off that unforgettable family vacation. Follow these 7 tips to make it even better
- Include your kids in the planning. This one is so simple and so obvious but many people forget to seek their kids’ input while in the vacation planning stages. While planning a recent vacation, I asked my kids what they wanted to do. My daughter responded that she wanted to go horseback riding. This has always been one of her passions but for some reason, this activity hadn’t crossed my mind. But it was my daughter’s only input so we booked an afternoon of horseback riding. That turned out to be my daughters favorite activity on that trip and something she talks about often.
- Make sure your kids understand what to expect on the flights. When my son was young, he didn’t realize that there were bathrooms on airplanes. This lack of information didn’t hurt him until he tried to hold it in for a 5-hour flight across the Pacific. When we got to our destination, I realized that he had wet his pants. Further investigation turned up why he never said anything to anybody. He didn’t realize that he had options. There went my Father-of-the-year-award. Make sure your kids understand the location of airplane bathrooms and how they work. Let them know about snacks and meals. If you don’t have a nonstop flight, make sure they know what to expect with layovers.
- Don’t overbook your days. If you have an itinerary, don’t put too much emphasis on it. Depending on the age of your kids, you may be able to only tackle one or two big activities a day. Better than in itinerary would be a prioritized list of things you want to do. Start at the top and check them off as you accomplish them. When are kids were small, we found the best formula was to take on one big activity in the morning, come back to the hotel for lunch and some rest and then let the kids do what they wanted for the rest of the day. Pushing your kids too hard to take it all in results in meltdowns and vacations that aren’t as much fun as anticipated. You may need to lower your expectations a bit.
- Check Restaurant menus. If you kids are picky eaters, you can avoid some drama by checking menus before visiting a restaurant. Many restaurants will post their menus online. If on Kauai, check this guide out. It shows many menus of different eating places on Kauai and can also help you decide where to go to eat. Many restaurants post their menus outside their front door so you can double check before entering or even passing by earlier in the day.
- Remember the time shift. Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific ocean so most people have traveled many hundreds of miles to get there. Those voyages usually require the passing of several time zones. Our home time zone is off by 3 hours from Hawaii’s. If you live on the East coast in the U.S., your difference will be even bigger. If you are from the U.S., you days will start a little earlier in Hawaii and end a little earlier. Keep your kids’ routines in mind.
- Keep your kids informed as to what you plan to do from day to day. This is another thing that seems pretty simple but can pay off greatly. Each night, let your kids know what the plans are for the next day. They will plan accordingly and may bring along something important for them. It may be their underwater camera or something special they wanted to wear. You never know.
- Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen. A severe sunburn has ruined many vacations for many people and it is so easy to combat. Besides the early and often application of sunscreen, limit the amount of time in the sun and make sure everyone in the family is drinking plenty of water. Hawaii may be closer to the equator than you are used to and those powerful rays can burn faster than you think.
One final thought is to take plenty of pictures–even of seemingly mundane situations. That is what memories are made of. For each family vacation, my wife has made a photo album to summarize the trip. In this digital age, I am amazed at how much time my family and friends spend flipping through the pages of a hard bound scrapbook.
Photos help keep events fresh in our mind. Not only is it fun to go back and relive your vacations but it also keeps memories fresh in the minds of your kids so when you ask them what they want to do on your next vacation, they can remember those things they really enjoyed and can eliminate those items that weren’t nearly as much fun.