When my best friend moved to the USA in 2013 it was clear that from now on I would spend my holidays in America. And so I landed in Hawaii for the first time in 2015 for 5 weeks. After two weeks on O’ahu, my best friend joined us and we flew on to Maui and Big Island. It was wonderful and quickly it became clear to me, I must come again because there was simply so much to see.
Parental leave is simply so ideal for traveling because the little ones can usually be carried everywhere without problems and you rarely have so much time together.
However, there are some things to consider before deciding on a destination.
> Is there good medical care in case of an emergency?
> Do I get baby utensils (pre-milk, baby nappies, porridge etc) on site without any problems?
> Is there a good way to get there
> Does it fit into the budget
Since Hawaii is part of the USA, we were not so worried about medical care and baby utensils. But the long flight deterred us a bit, so we thought about South Africa as an alternative. Hawaii is also not a cheap destination. For a little nicer accommodations, you can quickly spend about $200 per night. In South Africa or Thailand, you get out with much less money. And yet, precisely because Hawaii is so far away, we wanted to use parental leave for a goal, which may soon no longer be so easy to travel. And since we could also visit my best friend in San Francisco, the decision for Hawaii was made quickly.
Choosing Hawaii was easy for us, but which islands did we want to visit? How many stops did we want to have with a baby in our luggage and wanted to get to know something new, or rather where I already knew it was beautiful…?
A total of 137 islands and atolls with a total area of 16,625 km² belong to Hawaii, but most of them are uninhabited or no longer inhabited. The eight largest islands are Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui and Hawai’i (also called Big Island so as not to be confused with the whole group of islands of the same name).
Due to the capital Honolulu and its Waikiki beaches, O’ahu is probably the most famous island. But if you stay away from Honolulu and the hustle and bustle in Waikiki, O’ahu is and remains one of the most beautiful destinations for me. Admittedly, the adventure feeling here is smaller than on the other islands, but there are some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. I love O’ahu, so it was clear that we would spend part of our time in Kailua, a little tourist area with a wonderful beach northeast of the island.
Big Island is wonderful for hiking and fascinating by its active volcanoes. But it has fewer sandy beaches and is not as green as the other islands. In short, for a trip with baby, Big Island is not the best island.
But since we wanted to travel to another island, which should be worth the long journey, our final choice was between Maui and Kaua’i. Maui has a very touristic side and a beautiful hinterland, which is characterized by surfers, yogis and hippies. The Road to Hana is still one of the most beautiful road trips you can make in Hawaii. But since I just knew Maui, we finally decided on the garden island Kaua’i as our second stop. And that was our trip. Hamburg, San Francisco, Kaua’i, O’ahu, San Francisco, Hamburg. Altogether 6 weeks, of which we spent 3 days each on the way there and back with our friends in San Francisco. By the way, this stopover turned out to be the absolutely right decision because of the jet lag.
The best connections to Hawaii are either via Los Angeles or San Francisco. The flight time to LA and San Francisco is usually 13 hours and from there it is another 6 hours to Hawaii. I would always plan a stopover of several days in one of the two cities. Especially if you travel with small children, a stopover is worth its weight in gold. Both cities have a lot to offer, so that a stopover can become a nice trip. We flew the long distance with Lufthansa and then flew from Oakland with Alaska Airline, on to Kaua’i. Oakland is an insider tip for flights in and from the Bay Area anyway. It is only 30 minutes away from San Francisco by Bart (a kind of S-Bahn) and often has the cheaper connections.
From Kaua’i it went with Hawaiian Airlines in 40 minutes to Honolulu on O’ahu. Island flights cost around $100 depending on the season. From O’ahu back to San Francisco we flew with Delta.
Every airline has slightly different policies when it comes to traveling with children. Here it is worth reading before once completely exactly. As a rule, you can check in two special items of luggage (pram and car seat) and take one additional piece of hand luggage with you. We are all together with 2 large suitcases, two hand luggage suitcases, a changing bag, the pram (we had an extra pram bag) and the Maxicosi. It felt as if we were emigrating.
IMPORTANT: remember to pre-order the cot for the long-distance flight. Unfortunately, even then you have no guarantee. Luckily we got a little bed, but our neighbours had to hold your baby in their arms the whole flight. That’s really hard. If you are lucky, you can ask at check-in if the machine is fully booked and if not, if you can have space next to you. Americans are usually incredibly accommodating when traveling with children. Germany, actually the whole of Europe, can really set an example here. On all domestic flights, we were lucky and could comfortably place the Maxicosi in the open space. That worked out a lot better than the cot. When taking off and landing you have to take the baby on your lap, but during the flight, everyone turned a blind eye and let us use the Maxicosi even without the NHTSA certificate, which is actually needed for the USA.
There must be people who manage to travel even with a child with light luggage. I’m afraid we’re not one of them. We wanted to be on the safe side and have enough food and diapers for the days in San Francisco and the first days in Hawaii. For us this has been absolutely granted, because you can arrive in peace and you don’t have to go shopping right away. One less stress factor.
Almost all airlines allow you to take a pram and a child seat for free, plus extra hand luggage. We simply put the diapers in the pram bag. Actually, you can’t, but nobody said anything.
The guidelines for taking baby food for children under 2 years of age are very relaxed. You may take along as much food and liquids as is necessary to care for your child for the duration of the flight. However, this is understood very generously, as unforeseen delays can sometimes occur on flights. You have to unpack everything and open it when in doubt. But we were even allowed to take baby water and warm water in the thermos jug without any problems. Lufthansa also always has a few hippie glasses on board. Just ask.
In San Francisco you can easily get by public transport if you want to stay in the city. The steep streets of San Francisco make pushing the stroller a real workout.
Renting a car is an absolute necessity in Hawaii. Special attention must be paid to the necessary child seat. Only seats that meet the requirements of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are approved in the USA. However, this is a different standard from the ECE test mark commonly used in this country. That means our seats there are strictly not allowed. Their use for holiday purposes is tolerated, but it is not clear what the consequences would be in the event of an accident. At worst, there could be difficulties with insurance if a non-U.S. registered seat has been used and the child has suffered injuries. The second aspect is the strains to which your own seat is subjected when you take it with you. Luggage is not handled very carefully during transport at airports. There is a risk of damage to the child seat.
Child seats can usually be rented as an optional extra to the car. If you stay six weeks like us, it’s worth buying one.
Since our baby was only 5 months old at the time of the trip, he could not yet sit in the normal car seats. We simply took our Maxicosi with us and didn’t have any problems despite an inadmissible standard. But in the end, everyone has to decide for himself.
Good accommodations in Hawaii are not cheap. Under 100 euros a night it will be really hard to find something beautiful. But like everywhere, it depends a little bit on what you want and how important it is to you where you live. Whether it has to be close to the beach and what the equipment should be like. We knew that we would spend a lot of time with baby in our apartment and therefore a nice equipment was important to us as well as a nice outdoor area. In Hawaii, real hotels may only be built in certain places. This means that most of the accommodations on the island are apartments or private apartments. I think that’s wonderful, because if you stay away from the package holiday resorts and the big US hotel bunker chains, you live like a local in Hawaii. In Kailua, for example, there is not a single hotel. But there are a lot of Air BnB accommodations.
Travel utensils that were indispensable
A foreign health insurance (especially in the USA, because otherwise, it can be really expensive. We had to pay $600 for a visit to the doctor for conjunctivitis.
> UV cloth and sunscreen
> baby carrier
> Maxicosi (Actually you need special child seats with NHTSA certificate for the USA. But we simply ignored this and took the Maxicosi with us and traveled with it without any problems)
> Trolley (if necessary a bag for the pram)
> Pre-milk and glasses for the flights and the first days
> Nose drops so that the ears do not hurt so much during pressure equalization
> Diapers for the first days
First-aid travel kit
> febrile suppositories
> Belladonna globolis against fever
> Osanite, dental globolis
> Otriven baby nasal drops for the flight
> nasal aspirator
> Pari, NACI o.9 saltwater drops for nose and eyes
> Microlax against constipation
Traveling with a baby means more planning and foresight in every respect. But it is absolutely feasible. We enjoyed every day of our journey as a family. And even though Charly will probably never consciously remember his first journey in life, I hope that he was somehow unconsciously allowed to experience early in his life how diverse and wonderful this world is. And maybe I could help you with the planning for your first family trip.
More travel tips for O’ahu and Kaua’i I will put together for you next.