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Hawaii Vacation- Joys of Traveling Lite

September 16, 2009 Family Travel 1 Comment

The Smart Mom’s Guide to Air Travel with Kids

It’s simple. Go carry-on. It works on so many levels. It saves you strained muscles and tons of time waiting at the porter and baggage claim. Your stuff will never go to Montreal while you go to Maui and best of all–you save big bucks in checked luggage fees. If I can go carry-on with a family of 5 on a two week vacation in a condo, so can you. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself! I’m confident you will find all the hidden joys of leaving the 50lb. suitcase behind and opting for my favorite carry-on travel bags for yourself and the kiddo’s.

Below is a list of items I packed.


  • Maui Revealed: Ultimate Guidebook
  • favorite cooler
  • 2 laptops
  • 4 iPods and 2 Nintendos
  • a hammock (camping version-at Wal-Mart for $10)
  • a waterproof blanket/tablecloth called a Neat Sheet
  • snorkel gear and fins for 5 people (or buy at Costco in Hawaii or rent there)
  • clothes
  • a beach towel
  • books and magazines (dump them as you read them)
  • about 10 feet of aluminum foil
  • lots of Ziploc gallon and sandwich size baggies
  • spices in small amounts
  • granola bars, oatmeal packets, and snack size trail mix, other “dry” food
  • 5 cameras
  • bathing suits 4 each
  • 3-4 shorts/ 4-5 tops
  • athletic shoes 1 pair each
  • DVDs
  • backpack
  • hats and sunglasses for everyone
  • one dressier outfit (sundresses with fancier sandals for the girls)
  • flip-flops
  • games, cards, toys, art supplies (kid-chosen)
  • sweater 1 each (good for higher elevations)
  • first aid kit
  • toiletries, including Motrin

Here is what I did not bring:

  • liquids like shampoo and sunscreen. Most things are pricey in Hawaii.  Shampoo, like Suave, is as cheap as home. I buy sunscreen at Costco by the airport. We will use it all.
  • beach umbrella. I call ahead and find out what the property already has. Usually there are umbrellas, beach chairs, sand toys, and boogie boards available. The wind is so strong that umbrellas really take a beating. I usually buy one at Costco. It is cheaper than one checked bag and makes the relentless sun comfortable.
  • Pants, except the ones we wear on the plane. It’s too hot. They will go unworn.
  • Underwear. Just kidding! But you don’t need much. The girls and I wear bikinis under our board shorts and tank tops and we are ready for adventure–whether it’s at a waterfall or the mall. Plus, it will invariably rain. Bathing suits dry quickly.
  • jewelry, blow dryers, flat irons, lots of make-up. I buy myself some nice earrings when I get there.

How do I manage it?  I’ve got a few simple tricks. First, I give the kids a list of items they need. They gather it up and I pack it. I do not expand the carry-on or pack much in the side pockets. I roll up everything as tight as possible, using every nook and cranny.

We each take a rolling carry-on, including the littlest kid. Then we each get a small purse/tote-size carry-on. We each have one except the person carrying the cooler which is packed with clothes. Expect to be asked if there is food or ice in there. We carry the laptops in the totes, as well as books, Nintendos, iPods, magazines, snacks/sandwiches, tickets. The hammock fits diagonally in one of the carry-ons. It all fits–really!

I always call to see what the unit or property already supplies. At our place laundry is free and beach towels are supplied. The kitchen has a dishwasher and is fully stocked with utensils, etc but the kitchen cupboards are bare except for salt and pepper. We usually grill every night rather than go out, so a few feet of packed aluminum foil means less to buy and waste.

Somehow I always have room for souvenirs when coming home. That’s because I toss some of the older kids’ clothes that won’t make it to next summer anyway. Again, we wear our heavy clothes on the airplane, jeans, tennis shoes, a sweater wrapped around our waists. We buy a loaf of local banana bread for the flight home and it’s aloha Hawaii.

Signed,

Mom Living Out Loud

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Denise Blair says:

    Awesome! Thanks for all the handy tips.

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