Monday, August 6, 2012

Have Kids, Will Travel

Front St. in Lahaina


A couple of weeks ago my husband and I loaded up our family and headed to Maui, Hawaii for an 8 day trip. I plan on writing a couple blogs about our experiences and this blog is going to be about the nitty gritty of planning and executing a trip of this magnitude with children in tow.

We began planning our trip way back in the dead of winter in January of 2012. We planned on taking Kevin’s two kids-18 year old Kyle and 14 year old Kaelie-and our 2 year old son, Atticus (he was 29 months old at time of travel).

Of course I did massive amounts of research and Expedia was my best friend (still is actually!). I used Expedia to set up several different trip scenarios so I would have a realistic idea of what to expect as far as costs were concerned.  I wanted to know if renting 2 regular hotel rooms with double beds would be more cost effective than renting a 1 or 2 bedroom room.  I also was considering the cost of eating out every meal as opposed to cooking some in our own kitchen and needless to say the latter won out.

To Book Or Not To Book

Because this was the first trip I had taken with children (and the last time I flew in an airplane was pre-9/11) I wanted some help so I went to my local AAA and had one of their travel agents book it for me. Do you want to know how amazing this is? You don’t even have to be a AAA member to use their travel services! And it cost me nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I have to say that Sarah, our travel agent, made the whole process smooth and answered all of my questions (either in office or over email) in a timely manner. *We did end up getting a AAA membership however. We needed a car seat while in Maui and with a AAA card it is free. To rent one for 8 days would have been more expensive then the cost of the AAA card so check it out!*

The trip we ended up booking with AAA was extremely close in cost to the trip I had found on Expedia. I would recommend taking your print-out from a travel site if you found a good deal just in case a comparable deal doesn’t come up with your travel agent. If you show your research to your travel agent they should be willing and able to help you find a similar one.

We not only booked a condo and airfare with AAA, we also booked a rental car. I had read the only reliable way to get around Maui is to rent a car. We rented a minivan and it worked out great for us.

I also wanted a crib and high chair while in Maui. Sarah was able to call the condo for me to find out if they were available. Alas, they were not so Pleasant Holidays (AAA goes through them) was able to give me two companies that rent those items (and more) to you. I went through Easy TravelHawaii and got a crib and high chair for 8 days for $59.38. They even had the crib and high chair already set up by the time we got to our condo and when we left they were going to just come pick it up from our room. How convenient is that?

Master bedroom at the condo with the crib already set up when we arrived.
What To Pack

I read a lot about what to take to Maui. I watched videos on fitting 10 days of clothes in a standard carry-on luggage. I read about what to take vs. what to just buy in Maui. I felt really prepared. We checked one piece of luggage (and it was big!) and everyone-except my husband-had a carry-on bag. Even my 2 year old had his own small Thomas the Train carry-on. Plus we had 2 back packs and I had my own bag that held my Kindle Fire, phone, diapers, and Ipod-as well as all of our travel documents and maps of the island that I had printed out.

When we got dropped off at LAX by my sister Katie, I was appalled at the mountain of luggage we were taking with us. It seemed like so much! The reality? We probably should have taken more. I found myself changing 2 or more times a day. I would dress one way to go to the beach and we would snorkel and by the time we would get home, my shorts would be wet and dirty so I would put another outfit on. Then if we went out to dinner, I would change again. Thankfully our condo had a washer and dryer but we had a wee bit of problems with it which I will explain later.

On our way home from Maui, I had bought so many souvenirs that we had to buy another suitcase. Thankfully, we are not the only ones with this problem as many, many vendors sell luggage in all sizes all over Lahaina. We bought a cute hibiscus flower covered large suitcase for $65.00. It is a nice one too so we can use it for future trips. I’m not sure how you would avoid this unless you just bought less or had your souvenirs shipped over. Maybe next time I will look into that! Let me know if any of you have had stuff shipped home while on vacation.

Airport and Airplane Stuffs

We flew out of LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). Our flight left at 9 am so we had to be at the airport by 7 which meant that we had to leave our house at 5 so we had to wake up at 4 am. Whew. Everything went really smoothly and we got to the airport in plenty of time (thanks again to my sister Katie and brother-in-law Ryan) and we took advantage of the Porters outside the entrance to the airport to check our bag so we could just head off to security. I had checked us in and printed boarding passes at home.

Mr. Atticus with his own bag at LAX
Kaelie, Kyle, Kevin, and Atticus on the plane

We brought our umbrella stroller with us and decided to gate check it so we could use it in the airport if we needed to. Remember it was really early and in fact, we left Atticus in his Snoopy pajamas while on the plane. He would get tired and it was nice to have the stroller with us while waiting for our flight. It doesn’t cost anything to gate check an umbrella stroller and you don’t even need to make reservations to do it, you just show up with it.

What would I do differently? I would not book such an early flight with a 2 year old. He was grouchy! He didn’t want to stay buckled in his seat and threw a couple of tantrums. Thankfully we were able to calm him down both times and the few people who turned our way to “see” what the commotion was were sympathetic. We did get Atticus to sleep for about an hour but on a 5 hour flight we had to keep him busy .

Atticus at Kahului, Hawaii.
As I mentioned earlier, we brought a carry on for Atticus. We packed it with crayons, coloring books, a reading book (even though he can’t read he loves looking at books), a couple small trains and a hot wheels car. I also brought my Kindle Fire and a pair of headphones for him to use. I had downloaded his favorite shows-Super Why!, Pocoyo, and Yo Gabba Gabba. He loved watching them . I also packed snacks for him as you can take dry food on the plane from home. So I had crackers and gummy bears and fruit leather for him to munch on.  I guess I can’t really complain-he DID do good for a 2 year old. The key is just keeping him from getting bored.

When we left Maui for California, our flight left at 1 pm. I thought Atticus did much better on this flight because it was closer to his normal nap time so he slept for a good two hours on the plane. It was a much quieter flight and my nerves were much better as well.

Now to the good stuff.

Where To Stay

We stayed in Lahaina which is the old capital of Hawaii and an old whaling port on the leeward side of the island of Maui. Lahaina is a busy town by Maui standards and most tourists do not stay there-they stay north in Ka’anapali or in the south in Kihei or Wailea-but during the day they all come to Lahaina to shop and eat. I was a little concerned about staying in town and not beach front but the condo we found was too good to pass up.

We booked the Outrigger Aina Nalu. It is located right on the corner of Dickenson and Wainee with the main highway running just west (or behind) of the property. So it’s conveniently located. We got a 2 bedroom 2 bath garden condo (this simply means it’s on the first floor). One tool I like to use is Google Maps. So by the time we go to Lahaina, I knew exactly how to get to our hotel because I had virtually ‘walked’ those streets before.

Our condo had a stackable washer and dryer. How convenient is that? The downside? Our dryer worked horribly! It would take about 4 hours to dry a medium sized load. And towels? Forget about it. That took twice as long. On the third day we were there our washer stopped working as well. Completely. So I called the front desk and they sent someone over to fix it. He was in and out and we were up and running in less than 30 minutes. The dryer? He said to maybe use smaller loads and shrugged his shoulders. So not much help there. I’m not normally a complainer so maybe if I was we could have got that fixed but we let it go.

Our condos even had solar panels on the roof. Isn't that view of the mountains breathtaking?
More pictures of the Outrigger Aina Nalu
Parking Lot at the Outrigger Aina Nalu
These condos were so beautiful! Plus, our back door opened up to the pool area so were literally 50 feet or so from the gorgeous salt water pool. I feel like this place is a hidden gem. It made us feel like we were at a home away from home. Everyone was super nice and the grounds are to die for. Seriously, plants that I've never seen before and behind the condo grounds are beautiful mountains that I had to take a picture of every morning. It was an experience needless to say. If I ever return to Maui, I will be staying at this same place. We loved it that much!

Another shot of the mountains behind our condo. There is my husband Kevin.
Saltwater pool at the Outrigger Aina Nalu.
Outdoor lounge area.
The back door to our condo led right to the pool area. Atticus really loved it.
Want to know what we did while in Maui and learn more about historic Lahaina? Stay tuned for my next blog about our adventures on the island.



  1. I have a tip for getting an extra suit case to the islands for souvenirs. Are you ready??? lol. On all of our trips we each packed a whole suit case full of snack foods that were non perishable. It kills two birds with one stone. You have food on hand so you can save money on buying these items as the are more expensive on the island as opposed to the main land and you end up with a suitcase full of nothing at the end of your trip. :)

  2. Hey that's a pretty good idea! I think I was afraid of having too much luggage but it's kind of unavoidable when traveling with 3 children! And buying this one extra piece of luggage was no problem but imagine if I had to do that on every trip! What a nightmare! I like the idea of just bringing an extra suitcase. And I can't wait for the next trip also! When we get more serious about it, I can contact my travel agent and see if she can figure anything out for us. :)