Is travelling from the mid west to Hawaii worth it w/ kids

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by jmhuth, Jan 7, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    I'm going back and forth on this.... Looking to book a fun family trip w/ the family in November 2014. We are a family of 5. The kids will be 11, 8 & 6. I like Hawaii because we don't need passports, I have points for flights for all of us. Still deciding on whether a vrbo rental or hotel (w/ points) will work best for us. My only concern is the kids jetlag when we return home. They will only have 1 day before they need to go back to school. Looking to have a night in California at the beginning and end of the trip & 7 or 8 nights in Hawaii. I've heard so many people say the trip isn't worth it unless you are staying at least 10 nights.

    Our other thought was to book a place in the Caribbean. Same time zone and pretty close in comparison to Hawaii for us. The issue w/ this is, the award tix cost a lot more due to the taxes, we will have to all get passports. I'm thinking we would rather spend the $ on fun stuff. I don't have any other overseas travel plans, so not sure if I want to spend the extra $ on passports when there are other great places we can travel.

    I would love to hear from others who have made this trip w/ young kids.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Most of the Caribbean is not in the Central Time Zone; lots of Central America is. And you certainly don't need to go for 10 nights or stop various along the way for it to be worthwhile. I'd go so far as to say that a week in any one place in Hawaii isn't great. I'd want to see at least two places on that trip. And I'd likely avoid hotels there as I think they're overpriced and not family-friendly relative to VRBO or similar.

    Also, kids are pretty resilient; wake 'em up for school and feed 'em breakfast and send 'em on their way.
     
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  3. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

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    If you want to do Hawaii, do Hawaii. I took my then 3.5 year old last summer with a stop in Cali for the night each way (though that wasn't my choice entirely, partly due to schedule changes). We only had 3 nights in Hawaii, and she did just fine overall. She was pretty tired coming back and did wake up early there (as does everyone the first couple days), but it was nothing that was anywhere near bad enough for us to not go to Hawaii. In fact, we are already booked to return next summer at her request.

    So, don't let the kids schedule concerns stop you, just factor that in as you schedule things on the trip and when you return home. I think with 3 kids you may be better served by a VRBO type situation, but I will add that a couple of nights at a resort like the Grand Hyatt Kauai can also be super fun in terms of the pools and on-site amenities. Certainly not something you need for your whole stay, but could be a fun add-on for the beginning or end of the trip, especially if you have the points to make it happen.
     
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  4. Desidivo

    Desidivo Silver Member

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    We are going in April. I have booked a courtyard for now but I am also looking for VRBO. Please send me info if you find a good one.

    We have a 10 and 6 year old. We are going for 7 days and will be back 1 day after their school starts. If they are not tired, I will drop them off. After a week in Hawaii, they should not take more then a day to adjust. :)
     
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  5. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Silver Member

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    Hawai`i is different than almost any spot in the Caribbean - that is not good, nor bad, it's just different.

    While I do not travel with children, we have many friends, who do. Though not in the Midwest (USA), we fly from Phoenix, so that is but a few hours shorter, than what you are planning.

    We have flown to Hawai`i for almost 30 years now, and there has never been any jet-lag, like we feel going PHX to LHR. I think that the kids will feel less, than you might imagine. We have also flown several airlines, with different schedules, and here are some comments on those.

    Flying to HNL, we often will do PHX - SFO (or LAX) in the late afternoon, overnight in a Hilton near the airport, then take an early morning flight (~ 9:20AM) the next day. That does two things for us - we do not have to take a 5:45AM flight from PHX, and we also arrive at HNL with an entire afternoon ahead of us. The alternatives: extremely early flight from PHX, or arriving late to HNL, are by-passed. With kids, it might be tougher to get a good night's sleep, at the Mainland departure airport - sort of like getting them asleep on nights, like Christmas Eve. However, I doubt that anyone in the family will even feel the ~ 5 hr. flight between the Mainland, and HNL.

    Heading home: a couple of thoughts here. I like the late evening flights (say 10:30PM) from HNL, to either SFO, or LAX. The flights are very quiet, and most pax get some good sleep. The arrival on the Mainland is early, but if then catching a return flight, it's usually pretty quick, and everyone can catch a bit of sleep, from SFO, or LAX, home. With one day before school, I doubt that the kids will even notice. They seem to be more resilient, than adults.

    Now, if you DO decide on a vacation to Hawai`i (I feel that Oct, or early Nov are the best months there), I would stop by the TripAdvisor Hawai`i Forum, as there are several "Destination Experts" there, who can answer almost any questions for you - that is the Forum, and not the reviews.

    One tip, and especially if you have not been to Hawai`i before, is to not try to cram too much in - whether Islands (each side, of each Island is quite different - like a different world), or even excursions on one Island. An Hawai`ian vacation should be, at least partially, about relaxation. There is more than one could possibly do, even staying on one side, of one Island, in a week.

    Most of all, enjoy.
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Agree with everything but the bolded part. For instance, a week on the Big Island can easily be spent with activities, especially if "doing nothing at the beach" is counted as an activity :)

    I would not bother visiting more than one island and wasting time (and money) in transit.

    PS: a week in Waikiki would be a hardship for me, I'll grant you that. :D
     
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    I wholeheartedly agree with Bill Hunt's and HaveMilesWillTravel's observations. If you want to go to Hawaii with your family, just do it! You'll be glad that you did! The Caribbean is a poor substitute. We East Coasters have been to most all the Caribbean islands, and now head back almost every year to Hawaii. This coming summer's trip will be ~our 12th visit there.

    We've stayed on Oahu, Maui, "Big Island" (Hawaii), and Kauai. You can handily spend a week on each island and not see/do everything on that single island, with the possible exception of Maui. If you and your family love the ocean, sand, sun and surf, to say nothing of the freshest possible fish/seafood meals, it's paradise! And yes, just concentrate on one island per vacation is wisdom in spades! There's most certainly enough to do on Oahu to keep a family entertained for at least a couple of weeks!

    In your planning kit, include a copy of the most recent "Oahu Revealed/Maui Revealed/Big Island/Kauai Revealed" (depending on which island you're headed to). See: http://www.hawaiirevealed.com/
    You'll be glad that you did! ;)
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Second the book suggestion. They are excellent, I have used every one of them for many years.
     
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  9. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I have to go along with the Hawaii suggestion. We did HNL with our toddler and it was awesome. As long as you find the right property with enough amenities you'll have lots of fun.

    It only took him a good day or so to get used to the time difference as well, more on the return than once we got there, but it wasn't all that bad.

    The other advantage is that you're basically in the US. You have a lot of US stores and chains, fast food restaurants and all the conveniences of home.
     
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  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Actually you really are in the US. ;)

    And I'd day those are more drawbacks than benefits but wh'ev.
     
  11. kellio
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    kellio Gold Member

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    You'll be fine with kids that age. They are the perfect age to go and kids are much more resiliant at that age then you think. Usually better than adults :)

    Agree with the VRBO and look for a condo. The kitchen will come in handy and you'll probably use it more than you think.

    Having familiar food/fast food choices can help if you have any picky eaters so the fact it is in the US is actually a benefit to you.
     
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  12. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    I feel like you all are saying do it, do it, do it! Lol. So which island? I hear maui the most, but there are things on each island that sound great. I don't want to overschedule/plan after all it is vacation :). Sounds like I need to check our the hawaii revealed series! Thanks all!!
     
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  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Big Island. What kid doesn't want to see an active volcano?
     
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  14. kellio
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    kellio Gold Member

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    What do your kids like to do? Do they swim, do they like big cities? Happy just kicking back? Will they hike? Girls or boys?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
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  15. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Definitely go. Make sure you plan properly - picking one or more spots which offer activities which will meet your family's interests (be it going out and about to see nature, hanging out by the beach/pool, or whatever suits your fancy), and doing it in a way that is in-line with your budget (so you're not fretting every last nickel) - then Hawaii is an ideal location.

    Despite the 3,000 mile disadvantage over the Caribbean for me, I'd pick Hawaii over the Caribbean any day. I've found the service and food to be consistently disappointing in the Caribbean, even at the Ritz and St. Regis-level properties. I've been to each of Hawaii and the Caribbean over five times...and I'm batting 1.000 in Hawaii and 0.000 in the Caribbean.

    We went to Hawaii with the kids in 2011 (8 and 5 at the time) and had an absolutely wonderful time. We just came back from Australia this Christmas and we overflew Hawaii in the way going there, and my son saw it on the map in the plane and asked when we could go again, because "it is [his] favorite."

    Here is a report from my trip in 2011. http://upgrd.com/sitinfirst/christmas-in-hawaii-introduction.html When I next go to Hawaii (being discussed for Christmas 2014), I won't leave the Big Island (except if @bobsgt invites me to OGG for coffee).

    Our kids are extremely resilient when it comes to jet lag. Many of our neighbors are also frequent international travelers, and I don't recall any of them lamenting jet lag for the kids.

    Why? Unless you have a particular interest to see sights or people in CA, just get to your destination and be done with it. Breaking up the trip will just make things worse...instead of two trips to the airport/security/etc, now it is four!

    While it is a non-trivial journey and I wouldn't go for just a day, a ten day minimum seems like a silly thing to hold yourself to. Recognizing I do "day trips" to London on business from time to time, certainly a week would be more than enough to justify the time spent on the journey, likely less.

    Book your flights today.
     
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  16. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    My kids like to do it all really but sitting and relaxing really isn't really something they enjoy. I envision hiking, beach days (would prefer a beach w waves to body surf), surfing lesson, luau. Seeing the active volcano sounds cool, but not sure I want to spend 5+ hours driving.

    I only plan to stop in ca due to the fact that I can book the trip 25,000 round trip w avios from the west coast. There are no airports close that fly direct to hawaii so I would need to fly to JFK or Chicago either way. Maybe we won't stay the night though and just fly out the same day in order to avoid the hassle of going thru security again etc.

    Need to pick an island then I am going to take the plunge and book the flights ASAP :)
     
  17. bobsgt
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    bobsgt Gold Member

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    corrected
     
  18. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I'd vote for VRBO or condo with 3 kids. You'll like it better and it might save money. Hawaii is like Europe to me. It's a place you want to go and there is really no substitute. As much as I love the Caribbean its just different.

    Later when you plan the Caribbean trip don't forget P.R. or the US V.I. no passports, etc. I'm also a cruising fan so a cruise is a little easier on the passport front typically. It's also cheaper than many hotels depending on the ship and it's doesn't cost as many miles to get to the port. Some ports may be within a long drive for you as well. My suggestion there would be either SW credit card or BA Avios card signup that would get you most of the miles you need for the family on AA to the port.
     
  19. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Silver Member

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    For us (remember, no kids in our case), our options are an extremely early flight from PHX to LAX, or SFO, to get to HNL in time to do much. Or, we fly out at a "regular" time, but arrive much later. With a bazillion HHonors points, it's a no-brainer for us - fly late - arrive for an overnight stay - catch a 9:00AM flight to HNL. Now, we have done PHX - HNL on HA, which is non-stop, but I cannot upgrade, as I can on UA, with various certificates, miles or even via "complimentary upgrades" on our 1K accounts. Also, that HA flight, HNL to PHX arrives at about Midnight (this time of the year, think it's 11:00PM), so we basically loose a day anyway, though in our own bed. We like those overnight flights from HNL, as we sleep on the plane, then have time for coffee at the UA Club at either LAX, or SFO, and get home about 9:00AM to PHX. Just how we like to do things.

    As for the choice of Island(s), THAT will be important. Each Island, and really each "side" of each Island, offers various activities. We're not "beach people," but do enjoy having one near-by, just for walking along the ocean, and photographing. Others would prefer a bunch of white sand, and lots of sun, just for hanging out. Being golfers, we often choose a location, based on availability of lovely courses to play. Almost everyone, and every family, will have different desires and reasons. Defining your now, will be very useful.

    Travel safely, and enjoy!

    Hunt
     
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  20. bez7
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    bez7 Gold Member

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    We hit Maui a few years ago and are nearly booked for another trip next month. UA awards are easy to grab and are decently priced at 40k miles each in coach. Maui is great, lots to do, our week last time still had us missing a few things that we'll hit this trip. Other piece of advice is to rent a convertible, don't waste time with a Jeep. If you can handle the remoteness (Mrs Bez didn't love it) of a night or two in Hana you'll have Hamoa Beach all to yourself in the morning, it's a piece of heaven. We spent 3 hours there and saw three other people the whole time.
     
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  21. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Agreed.

    We were set on a "true beach resort" vacation when we flew into Hawaii with our toddler, but we also wanted to experience the buzz around Waikiki and downtown. I'm glad we stayed on the west coast for the trailing part of our vacation as it was definitely a more "beach resort" vacation than downtown.

    We spent 2 nights downtown and quite frankly I'm happy that's all we did. We walked around, did some shopping, visited the sights then got out of town. Drove up the coast to the Polynesian Cultural Center and some macadamia nut farms, the works.

    I think when we go back we'll skip Oahu altogether and probably do one of the other islands to get further away from the big city feeling, but as you said to each their own.
     
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  22. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    As others have said -- go for it! We've traveled to most parts of HI and each has its charms. If you want what many think of as "going to Hawaii," IMHO one of the best family places is Kailua on Oahu. We have rented a number of properties there over the years with our kids in tow. Pat's Cottages http://www.patskailua.com have some great family friendly ones that back to the beach park (you literally just walk through the park to get to one of the best parts of this beach and it's a jaw dropper). I've also had some great ones through VRBO. If you want specifics, PM me and I'll see if I can find the last couple from VRBO we used.
    We've taken our kids to Kailua at ages 4 & 7, 6 & 9, 11 & 15. We are based out of DEN and often it's been a 7-8 day trip and I agree with NYBanker, no real issue.
    It's over the pali from Honolulu, so a car helps, but you definitely get the feeling of being at the beach and not the big city feel.
    Loved Maui and Kauai too and our last trip with the kids was the Big Island. It's hard to go wrong.
     
  23. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Agree with you there. Did this now that my kids are older, but I would minimize the time in the car driving around with kids at your's age. With that, I'd still go Kailua, second choice would be Maui. But that's me (see -- you all have me dreaming of heading to Hawaii now!!). :)
     
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  24. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    (emphasis mine) And I'd say that's the mistake you're making.

    I've had a mixed bag of experiences in both regions but, IME, the ultra-premium options always end up more disappointing.
     
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  25. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Same here... I think you set your expectations too high -- or at mainland US levels -- when you travel to the islands, and you end up with disappointment.

    I've purposely stayed away from hotel chains in the Caribbean and found out that this is often the best option. You can do small boutique hotels or beach resorts when you're in the islands and end up having a great time, and pleasantly surprised that you got such awesome service and value for your buck.

    I think the only exceptions to that -- at least in my experience -- have been the Radisson folks, which consistently deliver a top notch experience in the islands.
     

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