Traveling With Toddlers: Kauai Recap

blog personal Jan 26, 2023

Earlier in January we went to Kauai for my husband's work. The tickets and hotel were paid for so obviously we went! Since we took our two kids with us, we heard things like “wow you’re so brave, how did you do it, how did it go?” as well as, "Your kids won't remember it, so why go?" Keep reading for my answer to that question, why we travel (and will continue to) with our kids, tips and things I've learned, and an overview of our trip!


Expectations + Why I Travel

Take expectations and what you know of traveling pre kids (or with less kids), and let them go a little bit. It is 100% different. Don’t expect them to be angel children or for things to be perfect. Everyone is going to be tired, so I just continually told myself to almost expect the worst… and if my kids scream for an hour, I’ll probably never see those people again and it’s only an hour, I can get through it. Staying calm and patient was huge because our kids can tell how we’re feeling. If we’re not calm, they won’t be. I’m not really a big germaphobe, but I didn’t love the idea of my kids crawling all over the floor or leaving snacks on the airport floor or seat. At one point I had to finally let go of that and just realize that if my child was happy and entertained, we were just going to have to go with that.

I've always loved traveling, and don't get me wrong I love traveling by myself. Getting myself Starbucks, reading a good book on the plane. I grew up doing a lot of national travel and road trips with my family (we never went internationally, or to Hawaii. This was my first time!). We learned to be such good travelers because we started out young. My parents never let their kids stop them from their dreams of traveling and exploring. So that’s what I’ve taken with me. We’re going to fly, drive long distances, or whatever to go visit family and adventure.

Sharing the world with our kids is something my husband and I both really value. We want to share different areas of the States and the world, and expose them to different cultures and places. We want to open up their minds to how other people live and what’s different for them. We can see God in creations wherever we go, so we want the kids to experience that. He’s made the Grand Canyon, the oceans and beaches, and it’s so cool to see the different things that God has done.

You can also learn a lot of history with traveling. I remember a trip from when I was growing up, in about 5th or 6th grade. We were studying Natives in the southwest United States so my parents went out of their way to show us their homes and caves actually built into the side of the rock. I actually recorded video, did a vlog basically. I took pictures and did my whole report while we were there! I found some arrowheads and things to take back with me as well. So it was such a fun learning experience my parents were able to share with me.


“But your kids won’t remember it”

I’ve heard this so much, the idea that “your kids won’t remember it so why do it.” My kids aren’t the only ones going on the trip… my husband and I are too. And WE will remember it! We’re going to be able to share that with our kids as they grow older. My daughter is now 3 and I’ve been traveling with her since she was about 8 weeks old. We’ve been to Florida, Colorado, Montana, and done lots of flying and driving. Our biggest driving trip was 16 hours, which was actually quite the adventure. Liam was about 2 months old and we decided to drive through the night. We left Florida around 7pm and thought the kids would sleep. Nope. My daughter stayed up until 5:30 AM! So that was a little rough... but I don't want to let that stop me from seeing the world and sharing that with my family.


Preparing for our Trip

We had 3 seats (Liam was on my lap). We checked two bags, and my husband and I each carried a backpack. One backpack was for snacks, water, all the essentials. Another backpack was extra toys, blankets, sweatshirts, and we made a makeshift bed on the seat for Leni for the longer flights. Each of the kids had their own little backpack with their main toys. The week before we left, I went out and got some little, “new” toys for the kids.

They had Valentines goodies were out so there were little “jelly” sticker things for the windows or trays, stickers, coloring books, crowns for Leni, Calico critters, etc. Liam didn’t have as much stuff because he’s only a year and a half but I just went through to look for what was small, cheap, and something he could have fun with. We got a phone with blinking lights which we don’t have a ton of battery toys at home. So that novelty was really fun for them. I packed extra books and snacks as well (pack as many snacks as you can). Gummy bears, Smart Sweets, pretzels, goldfish crackers, Larabars etc. I had about 5-6 different snacks for them which was so exciting. We did also take our iPad with some shows, which we didn’t end up using a lot.

We left at 6:30 in the morning, packed up and ready to go, and got through security pretty quickly. The kids didn’t sleep a ton then because they were so excited. We went from our airport to Dallas, then to Phoenix, then out to Lihue (the airport in Kauai). We almost missed it the last leg of our flight! They had to get rid of 31 people on the flight because of turbulence and flight balance. They were offering around $1,000 per seat to wait until another flight. We tried to keep them up most of the day so by the time we got on the last flight, we put away the toys and set the expectation that they were going to go to bed on the plane. Once we took off and the lights were off, they did pretty good. I did give Leni some kids melatonin because she’s old enough, which was amazing.


 Arriving in Kauai

After our last flight and once we arrived we got a rental car. We ended up renting carseats as well instead of bringing our own and having to carry them through the whole airport. It really wasn’t too expensive, they were clean and sanitized, and it saved us a ton of trouble. For shorter trips sometimes we’ve checked it, but I don’t love the idea of my carseat getting damaged. This trip we did bring a stroller to help through the airport, which we checked at the gate (you can check a carseat at the gate too). If I were to do it differently, I would have left the stroller home and used my Ergo carrier instead, even though Liam is a little older now.

We got checked into the resort that we were staying at and by the time we went to bet, it was about 26 hours after we left. We were exhausted. The kids slept on the plane, so once we were at the resort they slept for TWO HOURS and then woke up for the day. It was 3:30 Hawaii time and they were up for the day, so that was definitely the roughest part of the trip. But I told myself we’d get through it (thanks, coffee). We often get Airbnbs because there’s more space for kids to run around and a full kitchen. This time, since it was for Sam’s work, we were put up in a resort. With kids I do prefer the Airbnb so they have more space to play!

We explored Princeville, hung out at the resort and the pool, and had so much fun. Your expectations of what you’re going to be able to do look different for when you have kids. We definitely want to go back when our kids are older or just us two, because there’s so many hiking and outdoors things you can do which we love. We did have one day where we went on a 3 mile hike to a waterfall, and that was pushing it. Leni was pretty tired and as soon as I picked her up she went to sleep. But we still did it. At the beginning, I told my husband that if we got half a mile into it and the kids weren’t having it, we’d turn around. But our kids can do SO MUCH MORE than what we give them credit for.

The Nepali coast on the west side of Hawaii is so pretty. You can either do boat and dinner tours or helicopter tours. I was a little disappointed we couldn’t do that because the kids were too young, but I still enjoyed that we were THERE with our kids. And I’m looking forward to when we’ll go back someday.

We found an amazing, old, wood playground for the kids which was amazing. We spent a lot of time there. We also toured a coffee farm. Kauai Coffee is the largest plantation in the US, so that was really fun. We also saw a canyon and hiked around and explored the lookouts. We also went to Poipu Beach one day, and saw sea turtles which was SO cool. Leni is still talking about it. It was very busy, but still so fun to see. At the resort there was a kids pool so we stayed there a lot too. We really planned one “big” thing to do each day then stayed at the resort the rest of the time. We went with the flow and it worked.


The Trip Home

We left there at 3pm Hawaii time so we’d been up all day. We planned to do a red-eye which was interesting. Both the kids slept a lot through the night and we got to Dallas about 5am. At that point they were up for the day. In Dallas, the stroller actually saved us a little because I laid it back, put a sweatshirt over top of it and made a makeshift room for Liam to sleep in. It was blacked out, and he slept for probably 3 hours which was super nice.

Overall, the biggest thing is to view these as trips not vacations. You’re just doing regular life in a different place. When I think of vacations, I think of relaxing. With trips, you kind of need a vacation afterwards. This time actually wasn’t so bad. It did take about a day to adjust to the time difference though. And I really think Leni will remember this trip. She has told literally everyone that we went to Hawaii, saw turtles, and went on hikes. Seeing her excitement over experiencing and sharing the world with people has been so incredible. It’s something I cherish and don’t have the words for it!


Flying + Travel Tips

I use Hopper and Google maps. Hopper is an app that watches tickets for you. We have a trip we’re planning in August, and I’ll let you all know once we secure those tickets and if we’re for sure going. But it’s telling me that the prices will drop a little before February 5th, so I’m keeping an eye out on those every day. Again, Google flights is another great resource. You can usually find good deals on Airbnb, and we always check on offseason too. The trip we’re planning, we’re going towards the end of their busy tourism season. This is partially because of Sam’s work as a farmer, but also because things will be a little cheaper and less crowded.

Don’t let the cost hold you back from traveling if you want to. You can go to Europe for not too much money. Depending on where you go, you can actually spend more money some places in the States than taking a trip to certain parts of Europe! In August, we want to fly in and rent an RV to road trip around, sight see, visit national parks, etc. I’ll keep you posted on if we’re able to go. Again, there are so many ways to cut costs when you’re traveling so don't let that excuse hold you back.


Find me on Instagram and let me know where you’ve traveled, what destination is on your bucket list, and what tips you have for traveling with kids!