10 Tips for Traveling to Maui With a Toddler

You can find a ton of blogs about what to bring when you travel with a toddler, how to navigate airplane travel and the like, but I wanted to focus this post specifically on travel to Maui.  We recently took an early 5-year anniversary trip to Maui with our 15-month-old.  We stay in Kihei (the south side of the island.) Check out my post on Girls on the Grid for more info about our favorite places to eat and things to do in Kihei.

But here are my top 10 tips for traveling with your toddler to Maui:

1)   Stay on California Time (West Coast Time) if you can.  This is probably one of the smartest things we did while on vacation. I had heard nightmares from friends about how their kids wouldn’t sleep after the trip, or while on the trip, no naps, etc.  By staying on CA time, it meant we were up at 4am (or earlier) everyday, but that was totally fine because we went to bed by 7 or 7:30pm every night.  Clare slept well while were there, and we didn’t run into any jet lag problems when we returned.  Win!

2)   Naps: Fly during them, and enjoy them while you’re there.  We had good luck on the first plane ride because it started when she typically naps, so she slept through part of it.   And while we were there, it was so nice to just take time during her naps to actually relax.  To read.  Not to frantically run around working, cleaning, podcasting, blogging like I do when I'm home.

3)   Prepare for activities to not last long, and be okay with that.  Toddlers need breaks. Lots of breaks.  Sometimes they just want to hang out at the condo playing with measuring cups.  We definitely didn’t plan any long all day trips. (Road to Hana, etc.) Those things just aren’t feasible unless you want a very cranky toddler on your hands.

4)   Don’t forget sippy, snacks and a towel wherever you go. There were a couple times we ended up somewhere and forgot one of those three.  Luckily a lot of restaurants will give you a cup of water with a lid, but those are rarely as indestructible as sippy cups. Snacks, ditto.  And a towel is always good to wipe off your child if you decide to pop over to the ocean or the sand while you are out on a trip.  So much better than dragging a sandy crying baby into a car seat.

5)   Beware of sand and nursing toddlers – Sand is all fun and games until it’s in their mouth, and then they want to nurse. And sand is just everywhere.  Sometimes it’s just easier to go to the pool to swim…

6)   Bring as many books as you can comfortably carry – I only brought a few books, figuring we wouldn’t use them much except maybe on the plane. But I was wrong. In the condo that’s pretty much all she wanted to do. We read Little Blue Truck about 4.8 billion times during the week.

7)   Enjoy the non-busy mornings – The good thing about staying on California time and getting up basically before dawn…our favorite breakfast place, Kihei Caffe at 5am was very peaceful and not at all crowded. Which would’ve been a whole different ball game later in the day. (Check out more about other restaurants that we loved on my GOTG post)

8)   Babywearing. The end. - Seriously though….We used a kinderpack for the airport and long walks, a borrowed water sling in the ocean and a regular ring sling all over the place.  It just makes traveling so much better.   

9)    Check out the aquarium - About 15 minutes outside of Kihei (on the way to Lahaina) is the Maui Ocean Center.  It’s much smaller than say the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but it’s cool because it houses sea life specific to the islands. There’s an awesome walk through tunnel where rays and sharks are swimming above and below you.  It’s a must see if you have kiddos, but honestly it’s pretty cool even without them. We went on our honeymoon by ourselves, also.


10)   Bring Help if you Can – Next time we visit Maui, we plan to go with my parents so that we have the extra hands of two more adults, and also so that Chris and I can sometimes do our own things – him snorkel, me shop – without feeling like we’re leaving the other one behind with a baby.  Who knows though – by then we may have two kiddos and it could be an entirely different ball game.