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A few weeks ago I posted about my indecision regarding whether or not to go forward with a planned spring break trip to Maui, or (again) decide that we bit off more than we want to chew, and scale our trip back to something much closer and easier to get to with our two girls. Most of my hesitation came from taking a hard look at our very long itinerary to get there (that had been made worse with an airline schedule change), and the reality that our youngest is still in the “hardest age to travel” range.
Trying to Put Together an Alternate Spring Break Trip
When I realized Maui may be overly ambitious, I tried to put together an alternate trip to somewhere like Mexico or Grand Cayman that we could easily reach with a short-ish nonstop flight. I mean, I really, really tried. However, this close to spring break, the reality was that no matter what I tried, I was looking at having to spend way more than I wanted for any decent looking alternatives. The best vacation activity for my girls at this age is swimming somewhere warm with a great pool, so that had me stuck looking at the same destinations on the same dates as everyone else.
The cheapest alternate trips I could find for our dates that looked like a good fit for our style of travel would cost us $2,500+ some miles/points for a 3-4 day trip that really should only cost a fraction of that amount. That is what happens when you are booking a trip close-in to a peak travel week.
I would be trading under $1,000 in cash expenses with first class flights + hotel suites booked at good award levels in Hawaii for likely 3x that cash amount for standard hotel rooms and coach flights to somewhere like Mexico. I love Mexico, but I love Mexico on a deal, not at full-blown retail price on a peak week.
The sticker shock for other spring break trips made me pause and really think about what was best.
Ultimately I decided that spending close to $3,000 for an alternate 3-4 day trip was insane, and certainly not the way I travel. I decided we were either going to Hawaii with roughly what we had booked, or we would drive somewhere like the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and do a 2-3 night stay there with no airfare costs and a low cash + points hotel rate.
We Were About to Say Adios to Maui When….
I had all but accepted we were headed to San Antonio instead of Maui when my husband called one afternoon and said “he had a change of heart”. He decided that the effort to get to Hawaii with the girls was worth it, and he was all-in on the trip to Hawaii. What?!
I had my reservations about making the big trip with our toddler, but he really had reservations. However, with him fully on-board, the game changed. You can do anything you set your mind to, and with both of us in the right frame of mind to make it work, it could.
I mulled it over a few more days and and then called American to see what they could do about our flights since the schedule change had left us with just a 40 minute connection in Dallas, and a six hour connection in San Diego. I knew from extensive searches online that there were no other saver awards available, but I punted it to American to fix the problem. A 40 minute connection at a large airport with little kids when you have to wait for your stroller to be off-loaded at the gate is just a misconnect waiting to happen. On a busy spring break travel week, that could be a phenomenal problem getting all four of us rebooked on something else the day of travel.
At first the agent I was working with over the phone resisted and simply kept coming back with “there is nothing else available”, but when I pushed enough and specifically asked them to see about award space being forced open on a flight that wasn’t so likely to misconnect, they ultimately did.
Our flights still aren’t great, but we have a few hours in both Dallas and San Diego, instead of being insanely rushed at one and sitting at the other for half a day. In this case, that was the best I could get without spending $1,500 – $2,000+ new flights. Our travel day to Hawaii will probably not be a very fun day as it will be around 4AM to our bodies by the time we reach the hotel in Maui…and that is if nothing really goes wrong.
After that long travel day we would be in paradise. I can’t think of a better destination for both the adults and the kids in our family than Maui. The pool, the splash area, the weather, the play bridges, the slides, the food, the drinks, the suite, the club access, it just is a perfect destination for us….just a long haul to get there.
Minimize Impact of a Long Travel Day to Hawaii
To try and minimize our exhaustion and the impact of a really long travel day, I am doing a few things proactively to speed up the time from wheels-down in Maui to heads down in the bed.
- We will skip a car rental the day we land and instead schedule car service or similar to take us immediately from the airport to the hotel. The last thing we will want at 11PM local Hawaii time will be a car rental process. Maui Town Car looks like a potentially solid plan to get us to the hotel.
- Communicate closely with the hotel to make sure the pull-out sofa bed is prepped and there is a crib in the suite when we arrive. That process can easily add an hour to bedtime when it doesn’t go smoothly, so I have already gotten in touch with the hotel about those requests and will stay in touch leading up to our arrival to try and make sure everything is ready for immediate ‘night night’ when we arrive.
- Schedule a nanny for a few hours the next day. We aren’t traveling with a Grandma on this trip, but if we can schedule a nanny or babysitter for our first day full day in Hawaii, then we can relax a little knowing that we will have a chance to take a nap the next day. Exhaustion can be a mind ^@$@# when you don’t know if/when you will get a chance to sleep, but if we know there are some extra hands for the little one the next day so that we can take a nap, it will help both our exhaustion and anxiety on the long travel day.
I am also looking at all my old photos of Maui with the family and collectively we are getting excited and geared up for the trip. The more we can focus on why we are going, the more likely we can get through the long travel day with minimal drama.
Let’s be serious…stressing out about a long travel day in first class to get to Hawaii isn’t exactly a “real problem”. It may be stressful in its own way, but it isn’t actually something to stress about, it is just something to plan for. It’s always possible that unforeseen events will derail our plans, but at this point we are going ahead with saying Aloha to Maui for spring break and I can’t wait!
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