Who: Gabriele Sarais, 30; his wife, Laura D’Andrea, 32; and their 14-month-old son, Francesco, natives of Italy now living in London
Where: Hawaii, specifically the Big Island
Why: To experience an island that offers both mountains and beaches
When: Late April, early May for about nine nights
Budget: $4,000, excluding international flight
“We are after an exotic destination in a place that is not too wild so that, if there is an emergency, we have good hospitals, etc. I love mountains and my wife loves beaches. We want to go to non-touristy places and climb a volcano.”
Gabriele Sarais and his wife, Laura D’Andrea, are Italians living in London who want to take a trip to Hawaii with their 14-month-old son. Now that’s what I call adventurous. Not because of the ruggedness of their destination, but because spending at least 18 hours each way on a plane with a toddler will be a true test of nerves.
Sarais says that his son had no trouble coping with a 10-hour flight to California when he was 4 months old. But that was before he was walking and talking.
Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, who runs Momaboard.com, a Web site for parents traveling with young children, came up with several tips for making the long plane trip manageable.
Getting the right seat on the aircraft is critical, she said in an e-mail. “Fourteen months is that tricky age,” she said. While airlines won’t require a separate seat, some people “may think that on a journey as long as this one, it may be worth the cost.” If they don’t purchase a third seat, Bhojwani-Dhawan said, the couple should try to get a sympathetic ticket agent on the phone for seat assignments and then arrive early at the airport for the best chance of getting that coveted row with the empty middle seat.
To keep a toddler entertained, “it’s best to carry a few new or recently recovered toys and to introduce them at intervals through the journey,” Bhojwani-Dhawan advised. “Snacking is also a great form of entertainment. Things they can retrieve from bags or boxes will buy you 15 or 20 minutes each, which is great, given their attention spans.”
Plan in advance the quickest, most efficient way to get to the destination hotel, Bhojwani-Dhawan said. “After such a long journey, you want to make sure you head straight to your destination with no hiccups.”
To combat jet lag, “try to keep yourself in sync with the baby so that you are all on the same sleep schedule,” she said. Daytime naps for everyone may be in order for the first couple of days.
Still brave enough to go forward? Then here’s the way to do it:
Fly as directly as possible. The shortest flights go to Honolulu and will take about 19 hours, including an 11-hour nonstop from London to Los Angeles, a two-hour layover, and a six-hour connecting flight to Honolulu. Most flights land at night, so plan to spend a night at a hotel near the airport: Ohana Honolulu Airport Hotel (www.outrigger.com) is half a mile from the airport, offers a free shuttle and costs about $125 a night.
The next morning, it’s off to the Big Island, which is less touristy than Oahu and offers both beaches and volcanoes. The island sustained some damage during the March 11 tsunami, but the few resorts and attractions that closed are now mostly reopened, and tourism officials are urging travelers to continue with their plans.
The island has two large airports on opposite sides of the island. A shuttle flight on a discount carrier, such as go! (www.iflygo.com), will cost about $77 each way to either Hilo or Kona. Fly into Hilo, which is close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (www.nps.gov/havo). Rent a car that can be dropped off at Kona airport (weekly rental will run about $440) and stay at a lodge located close to the park, such as Crater Rim Cabin (www.craterrimcabin.com), with rates of about $180 a night.
The national park has hiking trails ranging from easy to expert. Having a 14-month-old along, even if he’s in a backpack, will probably limit the family to day hikes. The Kilauea Iki Trail is a likely candidate: The four-mile loop starts in the rain forest on the crater’s rim and descends into the still-steaming crater floor. Trails and roads frequently close for eruptions, so stop at the Kilauea Visitors Center for information. The drive to the 14,000-foot summit of Mauna Kea is a top attraction, but children under age 16 are not advised to go past the visitors center at 9,300 feet (www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis).
After two or three days of staying near the park, head to the beach. Along the way to the Kona area, take a couple of hours to detour to South Point (Ka Lae), the southernmost point in the United States, and its green sand beach.
On the Kona-Kohala Coast, upscale resorts dominate many of the best beaches. The Luana Inn (www.luanainn.com) in Captain Cook, with rates ranging from $155 to $195 a night, offers ocean views and is within walking distance of Kealakekua Bay, which is rocky but offers great snorkeling. The family-friendly inn (the owners have a toddler and an infant) is also a short drive from two small sandy beaches. Nearby attractions include Hula Daddy Coffee Plantation (www.hula
daddy.com), which offers free tours, and Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (www.nps.gov/puho), a national historic park (a portion of the park remained closed after the tsunami, so check before visiting).
Take the shuttle flight from Kona back to Honolulu. Before heading home, spend a day and night exploring this more populated island’s beaches and historic attractions; for ideas, contact Hawaii Tourism (www.gohawaii.
com). Take the airport shuttle (www.robertshawaii.com) to Hotel Renew (www.hotelrenew.
com), a boutique hotel with rates of about $200 a night located just off Waikiki Beach near the Honolulu Zoo. The Bus (www.thebus.
org), Honolulu’s public bus system, has a stop two blocks from the hotel.
Total cost: Transport, including intra-Hawaii flights, car, gas and public transport, will cost about $860 and lodging will run about $1,600, leaving about $190 per day for food, sightseeing and incidentals.
Interested in having us help plan your trip? Go to washingtonpost.com/goingourway.