Friday, January 28, 2011

Traveling with children to Maui: tips and things to make your vacation even better

On the path from the Iao Needle.
After writing about our family trip to Maui yesterday, I've been dreaming about that island. It's just one of those places you want to return to, or stay forever as the case may be.

Here is a short-list of four things I think are necessities when you're traveling with your children to Maui, or any other hot, sunny, sandy holiday destination

Sunscreen
Bring some with you, buy some there, and apply it all the time. You can't have too much sunscreen, and for the children, as well as yourself, make sure it's waterproof and preferably sweat-proof too. I used creams, lotions and sprays. I like to put on the creams and lotions before heading out in the morning, and then use the sprays as "top ups" when out and about.

My favorite type of sunscreen sprays are the clear, continuous spray, no-rub kind. These are great, especially when you're on the beach, because you can just spray them on without having to rub them into skin that is probably already really, really sandy. For the kids, I used 50-70 SPF consistently and they didn't burn, even though they are very fair-skinned.

Beach-wear with more coverage
Skimpy bathing suits can be cute, but for sun and sand protection, the full-body, zip-up suits or rash shirts are hard to beat. If your kids are wearing these types of outfits, you don't have to worry about sunburn on their backs and shoulders as much. And if your kids play a lot in the sand and water, suits that cover more skin offer protection from "sand burn" as well as sunburn.

For a beach destination like Maui, bring at least two suits for your kids so you can have one in the wash, and a clean and dry one to bring to the beach.


Beach bags
Pick some up at your destination, or bring some nice, big beach bags of your own when going on a family trip. These make your life on the beach easier, as you can stuff them full of toys, towels, snacks, water bottles, and sunscreen. They'll probably take a beating from all the sun and sand, so don't bring anything too fancy!

Hats
Caps are good, hats with brims are better. The hats with neck-flaps are awesome, especially for small children, because they cover the neck, ears and a bit of the back and give great protection from the sun. The sun can be so strong in Maui that it will burn your scalp, through your hair, if you're not wearing a hat.

4 bonus tips for family travel to Maui:
  • Dresses are a lot easier to put on a damp, salty, sandy child than shorts. Score one for the girls!
  • Bring lots of water to the beach. Dehydration is no joke, especially for kids who might not realize they need to drink because they're too busy playing.
  • Stay off the beaches at midday. Seriously: it gets hot. We usually took a midday break for lunch, some TV and naps, maybe some pool-time. Mornings and afternoons are better for beach bums!
  • For women: bring or buy a couple of easy-wash, easy-wear dresses. I basically lived in two loose, empire-waist, black cotton dresses from Old Navy when we were in Maui and I never wear dresses at home. When it's hot, when you're sweaty, and you're a little sunburned, it's just easier to throw on a dress rather than wear something with a waistband. I could definitely see the appeal of a muumuu!
Finally: it's the little things that count
When you're traveling with children, they always manage to find unexpected sights to see in unexpected places. In the case of our Maui trip, it was the snails that crawled by in the shade of our condo every morning.
My daughter called these huge snails "Pooda", and the children would watch them every morning from the lanai.

Read more about traveling to Maui here.

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