This is realistic guide for all mums and dads who are bravely going where many parents have gone before, and instantly regretted it … on holidays with an infant baby! So strap yourself in, and let’s trundle through my messy success story of travelling with my 7 month old baby to Waikiki, Hawaii!
What to Pack: “Don’t overpack” are my famous last words, usually said only moments before overpacking. So in order to really try and keep to my goal of not over packing, I did something very few women have done before … I decided we were taking ONE suitcase. Yes, you read that correctly, ONE suitcase, for 2 adults and 1 baby. And ladies and gentle, I am pleased to announce, that with all my stubborness and lots of sitting on the case to shut it, I DID IT!!!
- Carry-on Bags – being a 9 hour flight, I packed portioned formula for 6 bottles (encase of delays), 3 sterilized bottles, nappies, hand sanitizer, a toy, a small blanket, spare change of clothes for baby, his favourite pouch of solids, and baby Nurofen and a dummy. All of which got through security with no problems. The dummy and Nurofen really helped with his sore ears from cabin pressure.TIP: Airplane bathrooms use recycled water, which is no good for washing babies bottles. So I recommend taking as many sterilized or clean bottles as you think necessary.
- Pram – there are two options with it comes to prams, either you can hire one once you get to Hawaii OR you can take a compact fold up pram with you on board the plane. We choose the latter option, and purchased a cheap Stealcraft folding pram for the trip. This made having baby at the airport so much easier. We deliberately chose one that reclined, so the Edward could nap in the pram also. Check with your airline what restrictions or allowances you have when travelling with baby.
- Formula – if baby is not breastfed, then you will most likely need this. Some will argue that you could just buy it over there. However I could not find the particular brand we use in any of the convenience stores in Waikiki. We took one tin, which lasted the 7 days exactly.
- Solids – This of course depends where you baby is up to with solids; Eddie is currently having purees three times a day. Although we found that difficult to keep up whilst on holidays, I did pack a few of his favorite puree pouches.
- Sippy Cup – keeping fluids up in a hot climate is important. I found plenty of low sugar juice options at the local convenience stores, which I watered down for those hot days.
- Sunscreen – this might sound simple enough, but I highly recommend picking up a high 50+ UPF rating kids sunscreen and packing this in your suitcase. Just encase you can’t find a high rated sunscreen in the convenience stores.
- Swimmers – again, sounds simple enough. But we invested in a high UPF swimsuit from Rashhoodz Swimwear Australia.
- Nappies – yes, you can buy nappies in Waikiki. However, I could not find my prefered brand, Huggies, in any of the local convenience stores in Waikiki (I have been told some Chemist’s stock them, which I couldn’t find). I found the main brand available, Pampers, were nowhere near as absorbent as Huggies. I also packed the Huggies Swimmer nappies, which worked great for our pool and beach days. Don’t forget those nappy bags to help dispose of the poo explosions whilst in the run!
- Baby Toiletries – I packed a little bag with some baby essentials. Band-aids, baby Panadol, sudocrem, baby cotton buds (to clean out those ears post beach and pool), bath wash, bottle wash and scrubbing brush, baby lotion, antiseptic cream, nasal aspirator (for those runny nose days), tweezers, and an emergency dummy (because we all know those suckers run away!). You can get most of these items in small travel friendly sizes.
- Clothing – keep this simple, as the temperature is usually quite warm, and baby will most likely spend allot of time sans-clothing and wearing just a fashionable nappy. We packed a few Bonds onesies, wondersuits (mostly for the flight or when in air conditioning), and his Love to Dream SleepSuit for night times.
Getting Around With Baby: After doing some research, I found you can travel with a baby unrestrained (on your lap) on all public transport (taxi’s, shuttles etc.). However, I didn’t want Edward to be unrestrained, so I found a fantastic and affordable transfer company called Hawaii 23. Not only were the transfers super easy to book and private (no sharing with anyone!), they provided an infant capsule free of charge. The driver picked us up right outside of immigration at Honolulu Airport. Our return trip was just as easy. Cost was $USD30.00 one way (not including tip) for 2 adults and 1 infant.
We also hired a car via Turo – a ride sharing app which allows you to hire private vehicles for much less than major car hire companies. We hired a very spacious Cadillac which came with an optional infant car seat. Turo is great because you can choose a level of insurance coverage which suits your needs (we got the premium), as well as select your prefered pick-up or drop off locations, and there are hundreds of very cool cars to choose from. We did a few day trips with the car, to Kona Brewery and North Shore, and baby was very comfortable in his air conditioned, full leather interior Caddy!
Where to Stay: On a previous trip to Waikiki (sans-baby), we stayed to the Moana Surfrider (5 Star). This property does suit families to a degree, and is a spectacular establishment. However it has a only one, very small, pool, and limited child friendly activities.
If you are on a budget, I recommend the Aston Circle (2 – 3 Star). Although this property has no pool, it is directly across from the beach, and offers oceanfront views, and double beds (baby can have one and you the other). Cots are also available free of charge. The staff can also arrange beach toys for the kids.
For a family friendly mid-range property, I recommend the Hyatt Place (3.5 – 4 Star). The property is a short walk to Waikiki beach. They provide an ample continental breakfast, and the rooms are very large and well maintained.
For a high-end option, I recommend either the Hilton Hawaiian Village (5 Star), or The Sheraton Waikiki (5 Star). The Hilton Hawaiian Village is a slight walk from the centre of Waikiki, but offers the most family friendly in-resort facilities out of all the accomodation options in Waikiki. These include a large lagoon with watercraft hire, large pools with kid friendly slides and direct beach access. Their kids club, Camp Penguin, is also well renowned and available for ages 5 and up. There are also several room categories to choose from to suit your budget.
The Sheraton Waikiki is where we stayed this trip, and offers the only other in-resort kid friendly pool on Waikiki beach. The kids pool is quite large, and has a slide, waterfall and small pool area for the tiny tots. The resort has optional day-care from 3 months of age up. We unfortunately didn’t get an opportunity to utilize this service, as it was booked out in advance. The rooms at the Sheraton Waikiki were quite large, and we could comfortably fit the provided cot with lots of room to spare. There is no direct beach access, however it is only a short walk from the pool areas.
TIP: Most resorts and hotels have in-house coin operated laundromats. We all know how much laundry baby can create, and this is a simple and affordable way to keep on top of it during your trip.
Baby Friendly Activities: Sadly baby can’t sit at the bar with you and drink Mai Tai’s (well at least not all the time), so how does one keep bub occupied in Waikiki?
Firstly, we hired some baby friendly toys, to help keep Edward occupied whilst we were in our room or by the pool. After a bit of research, I found a hire company which didn’t have minimum spend requirement. Paradise Baby Co. offer hire options for almost everything you would require for baby, including sleeping aids, feeding options, travel accessories and lots of toys! We hired a play mat, floaty for the pool and a bumbo (so we could feed Edward his solids whilst we were in the room). They drop off the items to your hotel, and pick them up upon your departure. Super simple and so much to choose from to help making travelling with baby that bit easier.
We also took a day trip to North Shore, which was easy and relaxing with baby. As mentioned, we hired our own car, and drove 60 minutes north to the small historic town of Haleiwa. There is pram access to most restaurants and shops, and most walking paths are sealed. From there, we travelled along the coast line back to Waikiki, stopping at Pipeline Surf Beach (Banzai Pipeline), as well as Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, for the world renowned garlic shrimp! It does take a full day, depending on how many stops you make, but by having our own car, we could do it on babies time.
Diamond Head Luau is a great family friendly night out. It doesn’t run super late into the night (concluding at 7.30pm), and offers plenty of kid friendly cultural activities prior to the show. The activities start at sunset, so it’s not too hot for baby, and offers a spectacular view of Waikiki beach at sunset. The venue is pram friendly, and kids under 3 are free. The show is a little loud, so I wouldn’t expect bub to sleep through it without headphones. But all in all, it’s a baby and kid friendly night out.
What Worked: The flight was a success! I was so nervous that Eddie would cry the whole time, or get sore ears from the cabin pressure. We took everyone’s advice, and gave him a bottle on take off and landing. I took a dummy on board with us (which he never usually takes), and he sucked on it most of the trip. We flew Hawaiian Airlines, and requested a bassinet. Although Eddie only just fit, he slept and napped fairly well in it, and this meant we didn’t have to hold him the entire time.
The reclining pram was a saviour! As we were out and about allot, when he became fussy or tired, I could lay the pram back, give him his dummy and bunny, and he could nap anywhere, anytime. If you can hire or take a reclining pram with you, do it!
Another success was the infant floaty. Sounds simple enough, but the floaty made pool and beach time so easy. Eddie was super comfortable floating the water, and if it was too sunny or hot, we could just attach the shade cloth.
Plus Hawaii is just kid friendly in general. All the of the restaurants we went to were more than accommodating for both the pram and baby. Getting around the streets is fairly easy, and the night life is extremely low key. The weather is not as hot and humid as South East Asia or Bali, and waikiki beach is very swimmable, even for little ones.
What Didn’t Work: To start with, the sleeping arrangements! Edward sleeps in his own cot at home, so we requested one from our resort, confidently thinking he would sleep fine. Not the case! The cot provided was an old-school, metal bar cot, with no-bumpers. So Eddie was getting his legs and arms stuck every other minute, and waking up crying. So we did what every single parent ends up doing on holidays, having him co-sleep with us! I take my hat off to parents that co-sleep. It is beyond mathematical and scientific reasoning as to how a small baby can take up an entire king size bed, and snore louder then daddy after a few beers. So restful sleep was NOT ticked off our holiday bucket list. If I had my time again, I would have hired a better suited porta-cot.
Along with crappy sleep, Eddie lost his appetite, making for painful feeding times. I did take a few pouches of his favourite solids, however he straight up refused most solid food, and took a less of his bottle then usual. I put this down to lots of distraction around him, and being out of routine. I had to accept that our feeding routine was just not going to be as on-point as it is at home. Routine went out the window, but hey, you’re on holidays! His appetite returned as soon as we got home, as did his sleep routine.
Another issue we faced was lack of availability for day-care or nannies. I understand this is not for everyone, however as we were in Hawaii for a wedding, I was hoping to hire a nanny for the day/night. We did find that most services were booked out way in advance. Even so, through all my research I found the best rated and most highly recommended services were through Aloha Sitters. If you are wanting a nanny or daycare for baby, I recommend booking in advance
And lastly, but most importantly, the dreaded hangover. Yes, this mother of the year had my older Sister babysit one night, and ended up drinking one too many Mai Tai’s, whilst making up for the last 12 months of no social life. Bad…idea. Not only do hangovers suck in general, they suck 1000 times more when you have an active 7 month old baby, who’s body clock is telling him to wake up every hour for a night feed, and wants to play pick-a-boo at 5am in the morning. Safe to say that i’m turned off Mai Tai’s ever (tragic), and i’ve learnt the valuable lesson all new mum’s eventually learn…you can’t party like you used to.
To Conclude: If I can pass on anything after travelling with baby, it’s do your research, and make sure your expectations for sleep and down-time are LOW. I recommend having plenty of little activities to keep baby entertained on the run, and making your itineraries as flexible as possible. Expect to spend a little more time in your room then your usual baby-less holidays, so baby can nap in the air con or have some quiet time. Try and avoid a hangover if possible… who am I kidding, aren’t they the reason we drink? Happy holidays!!!