Category: Travel

Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: Hawaiian Airlines With Kids

Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: Hawaiian Airlines With Kids

Last month was our second trip to Hawaii as a family of 4!

We are two adults, one 12 year-old, and one 21 month-old (who completed his 27th flight as a “lap baby” on this trip).

The Flights

We flew San Diego to Honolulu on the one daily Hawaiian Air flight available, which departs in the morning on an Airbus A330.

We did a cheap online bid for the lay-flat first class seats and didn’t get it. They offered it to us again at check-in for over $400 per seat, but we weren’t willing to pay that much for first class because it was a measly 6-hour daytime flight.

Instead we snagged bulkhead seats in premium economy (aka “Extra Comfort”) in the middle of the 2-4-2 seat configuration for $80 each. That worked out great, because we had easy access to the mid-plane galley for when Baby J decided to spend a good portion of the flight throwing up.

After a long layover, we took the 30-minute inter-island flight over to Maui. The island-hopper planes are all Boeing 717s or ATR 42 Turbopros or something similar. There was no reason to upgrade on such a small plane for such a short flight, so we stuck with basic economy.

The one daily direct flight from Maui to San Diego on Hawaiian Air is on an Airbus 321 (a smaller plane than the A330), and again we upgraded to premium economy. Pro tip: first class on HA’s A330 does not have lay-flat beds. Premium economy is a better bang for your buck by far. The homebound flight was just under 5 hours.

The Costs

Our total cost for all flights was $1,234.81. That’s for 3 “adults” and a “lap baby” flying on Saturdays during the peak spring break season.

You can read the full cost breakdown here, including the details of our annoying but ultimately cost-effective struggles with the Hawaiian Air Mastercard and rewards program.

Family Boarding

Families traveling with kids under 2 board right after the first class passengers.

The In-Flight Experience

Hawaiian Air knows their game. The island music is playing as soon as you board, the soap in the bathroom smells like coconut, and the cookies are shaped like pineapples.

The seats in premium economy were perfect for us with our “lap baby” because the cushions were wide and full enough that they made a sort of couch when the armrests were up. Baby J could sit between two of us in this manner and not have to be on anyone’s lap. Sky couch! Super comfy.

There was supposedly some in-flight entertainment available on the Hawaiian Air app (download before you board) but most of it cost extra as far as we could tell. We were locked and loaded with our own phones, tablets, and ipods, so we didn’t need to use it.

The harsh reality is that when flying with a toddler your entertainment often consists of starting at the flight tracker, willing the plane to move faster.

Hawaiian Air serves a hot meal even in coach on flights to and from the mainland, which is much appreciated in contrast to the “pay extra if you want food during domestic flights” attitude on many airlines.

They also served a complimentary rum-punch for adults and tropical juice for the kids an hour before landing.

There was ample diaper-changing space in the lavatories. Our fabulous crew was unfazed by Baby J’s need to puke every 90 minutes over the Pacific (and once right before we parked at our arrival gate). They swooped in like hawks with that anti-stink powder and biohazard bags every time it happened.

The Long Layover at HNL

One of the great things about morning flights from the mainland to Honolulu is that you arrive pretty early in the day. If you’re connecting to another island, you can take as little or as much time as you want between your inbound flight and your connection, since the island-hoppers to the popular airports take off at regular intervals all day.

There are not luggage lockers at HNL anymore, so plan accordingly.

We arrived around 1pm in Honolulu and booked our flight to Maui for 7pm so that we’d have time to show our boys Pearl Harbor.

If you are traveling with older kids or adults, you’ll probably want to spend more time there than we did (reserve your tickets in advance). In our case, a half-day was the perfect amount of time to be there with a toddler.

If you just have one or two things you want to see in the Honolulu area, consider a purposefully long layover to check them off your list. It makes for a very high-energy but very fun travel day.

The Plumeria Lounge

After our day out in Honolulu, we headed back to HNL for our inter-island flight and busted out our Priority Pass to grab snacks at the Plumeria Lounge.

The entrance to the Plumeria Lounge was buried under several layers of airport construction zones, but the inside of the lounge was clean, quiet, and uncrowded.

The lounge offerings would probably not impress you fancy first-class-only world travelers, but it had everything we needed in terms of food and drink and a space to relax.

We were the only family there, and everyone was friendly with the kids. It was a short and easy walk to our gate.


The short and sweet of it is: If you’re going to Hawaii with your kids, Hawaiian Airlines is a great choice.

Don’t bother getting their credit card. Do upgrade to premium economy for the extra leg room.

Hawaiian Airline’s safety record is excellent, their aircraft are nice, and their prices are competitive. They do a good job with customer service and family-friendliness, and you’ll arrive smelling like guava juice and plumerias.

Bon voyage!

Hacking Our Way to Hawaii (Round 2!)

Hacking Our Way to Hawaii (Round 2!)

We’ve been able to fly Hawaiian Airlines quite a few times – domestically and internationally, economy and first class – but it’s only in the last 12 months that we’ve flown HA with the kids.

The first trip to Hawaii with the kids was a wonderful week in Maui March of 2018, when Baby J was 9 months old. You can read here about the costs of the entire trip, as well as comparable costs if we had paid cash.

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Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: British Airways with Kids

Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: British Airways with Kids

If you’re wondering which airline has the best champagne selection or the highest thread count on their linens, this is not the post you’re looking for.

Our family travel style is very middle-of-the-road for international travelers. We fly in basic economy most of the time. Sure, we love a good airport lounge and we very occasionally spring for the lay-flat beds on nighttime flights. But we also are not “luxury” travelers. We don’t care about alcohol selection and don’t like to be checked on every 10 minutes. We do love getting from Point A to Point B without dreading our travel days, even if Point B is halfway across the world.

So here’s my review of British Air and our flights to and from Switzerland this year with our preteen C and our little toddler J.

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What Does it Cost to Take a Family to Switzerland?

What Does it Cost to Take a Family to Switzerland?

Joining Maui, Las Vegas, and Camano Island on our “2018 vacations we travel-hacked” list is Switzerland! This was my sixth time to Switzerland but my first time bringing kids along.

The Trip

Once again, we traveled at a peak time to a destination famous for being expensive. We were in Switzerland for 7 nights over the holidays, and also traveled overnight getting there and getting home – so we were away from home for 9 nights, 10 if you include the airport hotel the night before the trip.

We were mostly in the Berner Oberland, exploring Interlaken, Thun, Murren, and Grindelwald, with a brief visit to Zurich on our way home.

We had the obvious advantage of staying with friends for the majority of the trip, although this did not mean they footed the bill for all our food. In fact, we ate out almost every day and consumed as much local chocolate and cheese as we could get our hands on… which you’ll see reflected in our dining/grocery spending.

We also willingly took on the extra expense of premium economy and business class air travel, as well as three nice hotel stays to make our flight schedule more convenient. You could easily do Switzerland for less than this, particularly if you don’t mind flying in basic economy in the off season (and if you have the advantage of flying from closer than the west coast of the USA). You could also do this trip for a heck of a lot more.

Below is the cost breakdown for our trip, and as such the last of our spending for 2018. This is for a family of 4 during the ever-popular travel time of Christmas break.

(You can also check out our review of flying British Air with the munchkins and our tips for air travel with infants.) 

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Announcement: We’re NOT Selling Everything to Travel the World!

Announcement: We’re NOT Selling Everything to Travel the World!


This might come as a huge shock to those who know us, what with the recent upsurge in nomadic impulses among Millennials – especially those who, like us, have always loved traveling and are drawn to minimalism.

If you were unaware of this trend, just search “nomadic lifestyle” or “millennial nomads” or “digital nomads” or “nomadic families” or anything similar and you’ll be up to speed in no time. People seem to be hitting the road in droves with one-way tickets in hand.

Could we if we wanted to?

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Cheating at Thanksgiving Vacation

Cheating at Thanksgiving Vacation

I’ll admit it right off the bat: we are really lucky to know lots of people who live in cool places and do cool things and frequently invite us along for the ride.

It’s now our firm policy that we say “yes!” to as many invites as possible from our loved ones.

I do realize this gives us a huge advantage over people who feel like they are blazing the travel trail on their own while most of their acquaintances prefer to be parked on the couch watching TV, or who feel unsupported in their desire for adventures by loved ones who don’t have the same hobbies. But if that’s you, please know this:

The more you pursue travel and adventure, the more you will meet other people who do these sorts of things, and the more you will get intriguing invitations sent your way.

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Travel Hacking our Holiday Plans

Travel Hacking our Holiday Plans

After over a year of Stateside travel adventures, we are finally allowed to get a passport for Baby J! Naturally we’ve lost no time in trying to book some trips abroad. But we also bought a house and moved this summer, so we are really tired of spending money.

I’m happy to say that even though I think Maui will take the travel-hacking cake this year, we’ve been able to work a little magic to send 2018 out with a bang!

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Tips and Tricks for Air Travel with Infants

Tips and Tricks for Air Travel with Infants

My husband and I travel a lot with our kids, one of which is pretty tiny. Apparently we don’t seem too beat up by it, because people keep asking us for advice on traveling with infants. Here’s what I’ve got:

Check Bags Like it’s Going out of Style

Most airlines allow strollers and carseats to fly free. We always check these at the ticket counter (although you can often check strollers at the gate too) and carry Baby the rest of the way. Call your airline to confirm policies on checked and over-sized items.

When flying with the kids, we like to pack everything we need and not worry about checked baggage fees (shout-out to Southwest Airlines, which allows us to not worry about them anyway).

I recommend you embrace the checking of whatever amount of luggage makes traveling with your kids easier. Your days of spending a month in Europe with one carry-on suitcase and a messenger bag are over, and that’s okay.

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How We Accidentally Saved $5,000 on Cell Phones

How We Accidentally Saved $5,000 on Cell Phones

Looking for the link to save you $20 getting started on Google Fi? It’s right here! If for some odd reason that link is not working for you, you can use referral code RTP49J at checkout.

I’ve been hearing complaints from a lot of people about the cost of their cell phone and/or cell phone service.

I’m not sure why it’s not already common knowledge, but more people should know this: cell phones do not need to be expensive.

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