Traveling with Children to Hawaii

Tips for Surviving Long Plane Flights With Small Children

Traveling with children is not always easy, especially on a five and a half hour flight to Hawaii from the mainland. However, with a little preparation, your traveling time can be as smooth as a baby's bottom. Well, maybe not that smooth, but we can definitely help work out the toddler kinks!


Kids like being in charge so give them something to be in charge of. A backpack is perfect because it stays put, unlike a bag which can slip off their shoulder and you end up with one more thing to carry.

Put all your favorite ideas from the list below and let them take charge! One advantage to this idea is you have built in In-Flight Entertainment as well as stuff for them to do once you reach your destination.


There's never enough time in the day to read to the kids so take the opportunity of the long plane ride for some one-on-one. Pack your kids' favorite books for you to read or easy reader books for them to read by themselves. There's no reason to plug their brains into electronics for the whole flight. Expand their imagination through the endless possibilities in a good book.

Car seat on the plane

One way to rein in a squirrelly toddler is to take their car seat on the plane. This has worked really well for our kids. They behave much better - which keeps everyone happy. They actually are able to rest and fall asleep easier in their car seat just as they often do when riding in the car.

Check with your airline for any requirements as to where you can place the car seat on the plane. We had one flight attendant tell us it should always be at the window seat. That provided one more source of entertainment - the great outdoors!

Coloring Books

Coloring books can be a great distraction and can help get out a little scribbling energy.
One of my favorite coloring tools for my kids is Crayola's Color Wonder markers and paper. They're great because the markers only write on Color Wonder paper which means your little ones leave no evidence behind!

The downside with any small, round object is it rolls if you drop it and then it's gone. You're left with one unhappy camper. Even a sippy cup can create problems but you'll probably take your chances with that one.

So, if coloring is your child's favorite pastime then pack in the coloring books, but go easy on the crayons, and keep an available hand to help hold the ones he or she's not using.

Comfort Toys for Small Children

Throw in a favorite blanket or stuffed animal for small children. It may help them snuggle down for quiet time or just help get through a bumpy patch of air.

You can never have enough props for entertaining that last 20-30 minutes of the flight when everyone is ready to get off. Some of our favorite games to play with a blanket or cuddle friend are peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.

Divide and Conquer - Don't Lose the Kids.

Decide ahead of time who is in charge of which child. This will eliminate the question "Where is so-and-so?" with the answer of "I thought you were watching him." Miscommunication and lost children are not a good way to start a vacation.

DVDs/movies and personal DVD players

These have been our saving grace on long car rides and airplane flights.
A laptop with a DVD drive works just as well as a personal DVD player. Bring a long a set of earphones (or a splitter so you can have two sets of earphones) so your showing of your child's favorite movie doesn't interfere with the comfort of others.

Sit an adult in between two children to be in control of the DVD player. This eliminates power struggles between the kids. It sounds like a scary place to be, but it sure beats having to control upset children. We always bring the movies we know they will watch and stay occupied with. If we're lucky they may even fall asleep.

Next Page > More Great Tips for Traveling With Kids

Ear Problems - Babies

With babies you need to bring something they can suck on to help regulate their ears during the course of the flight, especially during ascent and descent. Airline flights can be quickly spoiled by a little one with an earache.

Some ideas to try: Bottles of juice and/or water, pacifier, jello jigglers with extra Knox gelatin (this is messy but the kids love it!), or any Gerber baby type snacks.

They dissolve quickly in the mouth eliminating a choking hazard. Be sure to read the safety precaution on the label before buying.

Our favorite Gerber snacks are the stars (lots of flavors), fruit snacks (these start dissolving almost instantly) and baby cereal bars.

Ear Problems - Toddlers and Older Children

Toddlers and older kids don't always understand how to regulate their ears by just swallowing, so a little help is sometimes required. My sister-in-law, who is a nurse, uses Starbursts for her daughter because they take a long time to chew and a lot of salivation occurs to keep my niece swallowing. Some other ideas are fruit snacks, gum and hard candy (for older children).

Electronic Games

Handheld games are extremely popular for older kids and can keep them quiet for hours. Bring a long a set of earphones so your child's favorite game doesn't interfere with the comfort of others. A long plane ride might be a good time to invest in a new game for a special surprise. (See Travel Surprise below.)

Mess Clean Up

Keep a bag of wipes, hand sanitizer and disposable bags for dirty diapers nearby. Baby wipes can clean up almost anything - even on carpet. Hand sanitizer is a must for traveling with kids and those disposable bags are good for containing messy stuff besides diapers. Don't forget to bring your favorite brand of stain remover wipes or pens for those times when the baby wipes just aren't enough.

Potty Trained--Almost

This is one of my best mother tips in general, but is especially great on vacations: Put a pull-up over their underwear. I can't stand doing extra laundry, so anything that can spare me an extra mess but still gives kids the feel of needing to stay dry is number one for me.

Seating Arrangements

If you're traveling with a group or a large number of family members, it might be fun to let your children choose which adult they want to sit by. If they don't see Uncle Bob very often and want to sit by him (and Uncle Bob is ok with the idea) then relinquish parental control for a few hours. It's a great time to talk and tell stories with people you don't get to see every day.


Snacks, snacks and more snacks! As sad a statement as it may be, snacking keeps children busy and entertained. So pack your kids favorites for your long journey. The healthier the better!

If you're on an early morning flight try some cut up apples or bring a banana or two. A fun trail mix with some granola, their favorite cereal and dried fruit can be a refreshing change from sugary snacks.

Good old fashioned PB&J's are hearty sandwiches and can usually take a beating pretty well.

Whatever you choose, throw in a few of the mainstay favorites along with some healthy choices. Then you won't feel so bad seeing them eat through the entire flight. BONUS TIP: Don't put their snacks in their special backpacks or bags. While it's great for them to be in charge of their games or coloring books, you may not want them in charge of snacktime. I always travel with a big carry-on bag with all the goodies I need for my kids for the flight. Then I have control over who gets what snacks and when. I can still offer them choices (so they retain a little independence) but it's within my limits.

Sticker Books

Reusable sticker books are great for early elementary age kids. You can find them in your child's favorite TV/movie character or interest. And because they're reusable you can create new scenes, stories or just mix them up for fun.

Travel Surprise

My mom is the not only the "Queen of Organization," but also the "Queen of Surprises." Almost every trip we take with her has some surprise for everyone (my siblings and me as well as our kids).

I've found that if I put a small surprise or two in my kids travel backpacks it's like Christmas Day - a new book to read, page of stickers, small toy to play with, activity book with puzzles and mazes or (if they're really lucky) a new movie to watch.

We hope that some of these tips for traveling with children will make your next vacation to Hawaii more enjoyable for everyone.

About the Author

This article was written by Amy Grover, who considers herself a "Maui enthusiast," with three vacations there over the past 9 years (1997, 2000, and 2004), and another family vacation planned for December 2006/January 2007. You can read more about her and her family's Maui adventures at her website