This summer I took my ohana (wife and two daughters: 7 & 9) to the mainland to visit family. Traveling to the mainland can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. And boy did we experience both.
We didn’t know what to expect since this was the girls first trip to the mainland on a big airplane (that they can remember). About midway through our trip, I decided to start noting things that I thought would help others during their first excursion with little ones, well, that and to give you a little laugh at our expense as well.
1. DOCUMENT YOUR KID'S “FIRSTS”
I learned this the hard way. I had no clue that my daughters have never experienced an escalator. Something so simple and what we believe to be common knowledge was a complete adventure for them. As my youngest looks at the escalator and just charges it, my 9-year-old (Anuhea) had the look of excitement and terror mixed. I told her “what are you waiting for?” Not realizing this was her first attempt at moving stairs that could eat you alive (in her mind). Now, my wife, this whole time trotted down the stairs as usual and missed the whole show.
Finally, after seeing her sister riding and smiling, she took her first step, what proceeded next can only be described as what happened in the movie “Elf”. One foot went on, while the other stayed planted safely on non-moving land!
I froze in laughter, shock and just pure entertainment as she finally got it. By the time we got to the bottom, I was laughing uncontrollably as I told my wife what had happened, her response? Did you film it? DOH!!! So, my point here is, no matter how small or insignificant you may think your kids “firsts” are, document it!!
2. MAKE SURE TO HAVE A GPS READY
OMG did the GPS save us. Our trip to the mainland took us to the huge state of Texas. If you have never driven on the interstates in Texas, buckle up and hold on! Their interstates are set up like a mousetrap, with floating highways going every which direction. Not like home where you take saddle road, when it ends, turn left on the high road and you are on your way to Kona.
Oh no, not in Texas! The GPS lady says, “stay in the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-35 West…now immediately merge left onto I-35 West, stay in left 2 lanes and merge to I-35 North, and veer right, now stay in the right lane and take exit (whatever) to Highway 410”. All of this happening within like 200 yards! WHAAAAT??? And guess what happened next…yup, “RECALCULATING!” Arghhh! How did people navigate with paper maps? I was white-knuckled the entire time!
3. EVER HEARD OF THE AUTOBAHN?
If you have never ever heard of the highway in Germany called the Autobahn, it is pretty much a free for all, you can drive whatever speed you want. Texas highways are like that. I saw for the first time in my life a speed limit of 85! that’s right 85!!! Now I know some of you like cruisin 85 down Panaewa stretch, but when you are used to hitting 70 on Saddle (and always looking for cops), 85 is crazy!
I looked at my wife as we saw the sign, she saw the excitement in my eyes and said: “Hit it, baby”! Foot slammed on the gas pedal and we were off, big smile and all. I did notice though, going 85 drains your gas like nothing!!
4. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHERE THE GAS STATIONS ARE
Map out where the gas stations are, especially if you are unfamiliar with the state! I don’t know what was the biggest adventure of this vacation, the actual vacation, or wondering if we were going to make it to the next stop!
I guess when you are hitting that 85mph it drains the gas, and when I looked down, what used to be half tank was now the little yellow light on. WTH! I looked up and it was nothing around us, just grass and the wild plains of Texas! My wife saw the look of fear on my face and gently asked: “Are we gonna make it”? I would usually answer with confidence “Dude, I got this!” But in a rental car, in a state I'm unfamiliar with? I wasn’t so sure, so I simply said, “Let's find out together!”
We kept shifting to neutral to coast as long as could, and luckily, we saw the exit for San Antonio and found a gas station. As I filled up 12.96 gallons on a 13-gallon tank, I looked at my wife and said “See? Told you I get em!”
5. PEOPLE WON'T UNDERSTAND YOU
I remember walking into the restaurant “Cheddars” a great little BBQ place in Denton, TX. The host welcomes us in with a nice little “Howdy y'all” where I responded “Howzit!”. He looked perplexed, staring at me like I just called his sister a name! This happened a couple of times to us where my wife reminded me, “Dude you are in Texas, nobody knows pidgin here”.
That, and how when you refer to your kids taking off their slippahs going into a house, and the host asking “They brought their pajamas with them?” HUH? I guess the slippahs they love, you wear to bed. Oh, my bad “slippers”.
6. REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN AND TAKE IN THE SIGHTS
The biggest thing I learned about this vacation, was to let go of work, stress and anything else that was bothering me at home. Put your phones and laptops away, be with your family, and make some memories. Work will be there when you get home, but this is your time to be 100% vested in your family.
I hope you enjoyed my recap, did you take a vacation this year? What things did you realize for the time or be reminded of? Tell us in the comment section below!
Online personality, Self-Proclaimed Foodie, and Co-Host of the Poi & Pizza Show. I married the local girl, moved to Hawaii, and have loved every minute of it. I want to bring a haole's perspective to living on the Big Island, from business, life and Ohana.