Posts Tagged ‘family vacation’

Hawaii is for Families

Hawaii has always has always been one of those places you go on your honeymoon or something you save up for after your kids are out of the house. When planning a family vacation destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean or maybe Florida come to find before Hawaii does. Perhaps it’s because I’m on the east coast, or closer to the east coast, so getting to a sunny destination that is quick to get to makes sense.

But in January we decided to try something different. We had a little more time on our hands and thought of going somewhere that took a little more travel time, like Hawaii.

You may think that traveling with 3 young kids on a 12 to 15 hour plane ride is crazy, and I’ll admit I was a little worried, but it went rather smoothly. I was annoyed at first about being bumped and having to take 3 planes versus 2 planes but I actually think the breaks were good for the kids, especially since they weren’t that long. And coming back, with the longer flight, the kids slept most of the way since we were flying over night, so that worked our great too. With the entertainment on the plane plus our own entertainment (electronics, snacks and colouring supplies) the kids were more then content to sit quietly on the plane. I think flying from a border city helped also (I much prefer going through customs in a car versus at the airport and would recommend it to anyone who has it as an option.

Unlike visiting Mexico or the Caribbean, Hawaii is still a US state so you don’t have worries about currency or medical are or water safety or any of those issues that come up with visiting foreign resorts. Yet it still has a very tropical feel. Of course it helped that our hotel, Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, offered a spectacular location and service. I even wrote how this trip was one of our best vacations to date. But that was my feelings; what about the kds? When I asked my kids where they wanted to go for their next vacation, Disney World or Hawaii, it was Hawaii all around. That says a lot since our family is a Disney family.

You can read all the reviews I posted on our Hawaiian trip over within EverythingMom‘s Family Travel section: from our stay at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach to visiting Pearl Harbor and a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center and more.

Below are a few photo highlights. Makes me wish I was back there now.

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The Best Vacation and Why

The memories of our recent visit to Hawaii still linger in my mind (excluding the disappointing start with United Airlines). I’m sure most people would agree that any vacation is a good vacation but a good vacation isn’t necessarily the best. As a family we’ve taken quite a few vacations but my husband and I both agree that this last trip was by far our best.

But what makes this trip so much better than our last trips? What should we plan next time to ensure we have one of the best family vacations? Here’s what worked for us:

Time and Timing
We were away on vacation for about 10 days, much longer than our regular vacations. I know with school schedules and work demands, taking an extended vacation can be difficult but if you can swing it, do. Flying to Hawaii took us 15-hours, 3 planes and a 5-hour timezone change. It took the family almost 2 days to really get settled into vacation mode, including adjusting from jet lag and loosing all the stresses of work and home behind. And you know prior to a vacation ending your mind will already start thinking ahead to what has to be accomplished when you get home. An extended vacation ensures you still get quality vacation time after these adjustment days. There’s nothing worse than going away for a week and just getting settled in when you have to head home.

We also like to travel on non-peak times. This usually means during school time but it also means less crowds (and usually less heat). Visiting Hawaii at the end of January, also their winter, is a low season but the weather was perfect, sunny yet not too hot. It can also be their rainy season but we were fortunate and didn’t get hit with one bad weather day; that’s saying a lot for a 10 day trip.

Location, Location, Location
Well you can’t go wrong with visiting Hawaii in general I’m assuming. We had never been before so we just stumbled upon the Island of O’ahu, Waikiki specifically. Most people commented on how we should have planned our trip to the Island of Maui, that Waikiki was a little too touristy. But for a first time visitor I think Waikiki is perfect; it offered a nice transition from the big city to a taste of paradise. Perhaps another time will get a chance to visit Maui but I don’t regret our Waikiki visit at all.

Our hotel, the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, offered both great access to Waikiki Beach as well as the bustling atmosphere of Waikiki itself. The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is located right on Waikiki Beach. We could walk off the elevator right out to the sand. And out the front door of the hotel was Waikiki’s main street, with restaurants and shops and entertaining street life. It was wonderful.

The People
Of course the people in our hotel were amazing, from the front desk to the cleaning and maintenance staff. They always had a smile on their face and a pleasant greeting. Matt, the gentleman who taught the cultural activities at the hotel, remember my kids and was so helpful and friendly; Ryan, our server at Hula Grill, remembered what the kids ordered and always made sure we were happy. But it wasn’t just the hotel staff; cab drivers, police offers walking the streets, shop keepers, everyone seemed very pleasant and happy to be there.

This was our first trip to Hawaii but I think after our amazing experience it won’t be our last. Be sure to visit the Family Travel section on EverythingMom over the next few days as I will be sharing more detailed reviews on the hotel, some of the restaurants we enjoyed as well as activities while visiting O’ahu.

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Things I Plan To Do In Disney World

In case you missed my exuberant tweets yesterday, I just booked our family summer holiday. We’re off to Disney World! This isn’t our first trip to Disney World but even with that said there are a number of things I have yet to do. Perfect for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday post (a meme started by Oh Amanda, here are the 10 things I plan to do in Disney World this summer:

  1. Enjoy a pineapple drink (or two). We’re staying at the Polynesian for the first time but we’ve eaten there before at O’Hana‘s. They have these amazing cocktails that are served in a large hollowed out pineapple. What can I say, I’m a sucker for kitsch.
  2. Enjoy the hotel pool. Every one of the Disney World hotels we’ve stayed at have had great swimming pools but usually we’re so busy running around that we never use them. This trip I want to make sure to enjoy some down time at the pool.
  3. Eat the Kitchen Sink. No I’m not trying to go for a Guinness record or make-up for an iron deficiency by eating a sink. No, I’m talking about a huge ice-cream sundae with sauce 8 scoops of ice-cream, a whole can of whipped cream, cake, cookies, sprinkles and more served in a small sink. You have to see this video to really appreciate it in all it’s glory. I’ve talked about having one every time we’ve gone but have never made it out to the Beaches and Cream Ice Cream Parlour. Hopefully this year will be different.
  4. Go on Splash Mountain. I think we’ve been on every ride at Magic Kingdom at least once. Every ride but one. We’ve never been on Splash Mountain. I’m not sure why really. Maybe the kids didn’t want to get wet. Perhaps it wasn’t that warm out. Maybe the line was too long. Whatever the reason, I think this year we need to hit this ride at least once.
  5. Stay up to watch the fireworks. There are some amazing fireworks shows at Disney World, so I’ve been told. But as is the nature of fireworks, the shows need to run at night. And with 3 young kids who are used to going to bed at 8p.m. without adding all the walking and excitement of a theme park, staying up late has been difficult. If we can’t make it over to the park, perhaps we’ll be able to watch them from the hotel (I think you can see them from the Polynesian).
  6. Eat a Dole Whip (or two). There are many great places to eat at Disney World, besides the restaurants. I love picking up a turkey leg at the cart vendors and fresh fruit is always nice but my favourite snack in Magic Kingdom is the Dole Whip. I am disappointed they’ve altered it with pineapple ice-cream. The original vanilla ice-cream with pineapple sauce was the best. These things are big enough to share too, so my kids have told me every time I’ve bought one.
  7. Try not to push the kids. We’re only down in Disney World for a week. That sounds like a lot of time but considering the amount of things you can do, the week really does go by quickly. In the past we’ve tried to fill our day to the brim with stuff. The only time we were at the hotel would be to change or sleep. I found by the end of the week the kids would be cranky as would I. This year I want to enjoy the parks, but I also want to hang out at the pool or linger over dinner or walk around Downtown Disney or even just hang out in the room and watch some wonderful cable TV. This year I want to add a little relaxing into our vacation. Maybe it will make our week feel longer too.
  8. Eat at a restaurant I haven’t been too before (at least once). After I booked the hotel, making our dinner reservations was the next thing on my list. We have a few favourites that we wanted to secure right away so as to not be disappointed, like O’Hana‘s and dinner with Cinderella. But there are so many other great restaurants Disney World has to offer and we as a family love food. This year I wanted to try at least one new restaurant. I tried to get into Le Cellier but I couldn’t get a dinner spot for the entire week. I guess it is as good as they say. So this year we’re trying Edo in Epcot. My kids love all sorts of food, including Japanese. And when I discovered they cook right in front of you, I thought the kids would really enjoy that too. I still have lunches to fill so maybe I’ll find something new to try then too.
  9. Have a spa treatment. I’m not big on going to the spa but when I have gone for a message or something I really enjoy it and think to myself that I should do that more often. I never do of course. So what a perfect time to treat myself. Maybe a little mud and feather bath a-la Donald Duck or perhaps a cheese rub a-la Mickey or maybe just a good old fashion message.
  10. Get at least a few (good) pictures of me on vacation. I love taking pictures. I don’t go anywhere without my camera and love to capture my kids during holidays, special events or just being kids. But being the picture taker has it’s draw backs, like not being in any of the pictures. If I look back at our past trips there are very few pictures of me. When my kids are grown and looking back at childhood photos, they’re going to wonder if I was ever there. I think I’ll make a consorted effort to turn my camera over to someone else to take a few pictures, be that my husband, the waitress, a stranger or Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers.

Our trip is months away; my list will probably grow and change up to that moment. I’ll keep you posted if I actually achieve everything on my list.

If you were going to Disney World, what would be on your list to do?