Top 4 family travel vacation tips & how I applied them in Hawaii

Aug 6, 2015

When it comes to plotting, preparing, arranging, and scheduling family travel for our party of 3 (Tweeny, the husband and I), I am the main instigator. With the basics covered of choosing a destination, where to stay, how to get there and a general overview of available attractions, natural wonders and activities, I start discussing possibilities with Tweeny and the husband, so we can all think about the type of vacation experience we want. No matter where we travel though, we stick to our 4 family vacation tips and recently applied them on our trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.

1. Relax and let go of schedules 

Watching the sunset over Diamond Head

My day to day life is pretty planned out, between the 3 of us we have calendar alerts buzzing every hour for an appointment or a looming due date so after doing the initial research and selecting a destination, booking flights and accommodation I let go of the schedules and planning and leave ourselves open to local recommendations, spontaneity and the weather. Sure we all have an idea of particular activities in the back of our minds, but we don’t schedule them in. When in Honolulu, I was very keen to visit Diamond Head, but on the most convenient afternoon, it would have meant dragging Tweeny away from the perfectly lovely afternoon we were having on Waikiki Beach. So instead we ate dessert on the beach while watching the sunset over Diamond Head. It was a pretty spectacular way to end our day!

2. Try something new 

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

 Trying something new means different things for different people. I am not a thrill seeker, so for me and the family it means trying something not readily available at home or something we haven’t had time to do before. In the home of surfing, Tweeny really wanted to try a water sport, so we settled on stand up paddle boarding. Renting a board and paddle on Waikiki Beach, we each took turns paddling and cheering on one another. As it turns out, Tweeny was a total natural (the husband and I, not so much) and she wants to continue with it at home. Now I love the idea that whenever she goes out for a paddle she will think about the first time we all tried it together on vacation.

3. Eat local 

Big Island Honey French Toast with carmelised pineapple

 At home and on vacation I like to eat local where possible. For me that means eating seasonal produce grown on regional farms wherever I am. That way the food is fresh and I get to support the local economy and usually when food is in season it is also in abundance and a great price. Eating local while on vacation also gets you a taste of the region and trying food perhaps unavailable at home. In Honolulu, we discovered a quirky diner that became our go to breakfast joint, with a laid back surf décor, delicious food and a great food ethic – organic where possible but always local. Just off the main Waikiki Beach strip on Ala Moana Blvd, Goofy Café & Dine has a traceability map printed on the front of their menus, indicating which farms the produce came from.

A local Hawaiian dish made with local Hawaiian ingredients - the Big Island Beef Loco Moco

4. Be Nice

Bring souvenirs from home as a way to say thank you to those locals, taxi drivers, tour guides, waitresses who have either gone above and beyond in providing great service or advice (or if you are trying to charm the hotel into that early check in or room upgrade!).

For our trip to Honolulu, we took a packet of little toy Koalas with us. Immediately identifiable with Australia, this humble little koala souvenir put a big smile on the faces of all its recipients and was a great conversation starter.  As a side benefit we earned so much good will from the gesture that on the trip it had gotten us early and late check in at the hotel, seating at fully booked out restaurants, free dessert, stickers, seashells, hugs and high fives!

Souvenirs from home

*I wrote this post as part of my entry to the Virgin Australia competition. The winners of the competition will win amongst other fabulous things 250,000 Velocity points - that’s enough for quite a few family vacations!