Updated: Jul 12, 2019
How was my experience traveling by myself with two young kids
Our trip to Kauai, just the three of us
I always wanted to travel to the neighboring island of Kauai. My husband liked the idea but never put a real cell. So when a month ago, my husband told me he wanted to go on his two-week surfing trip to Fiji, I agreed because we already had family travel plans to go to Fiji in the middle of August. Now, as I would get to have two weeks with the kids all to my self, I thought this would be a perfect time to take that trip to Kauai. That's when my travel planning for our five-night stay began. I rented a house on Airbnb, bought plane tickets, rented a car and packed our bags. I am not going to lie, as I packed our bags, mixed feelings, and emotions began to surface. For many years, before marriage and kids, traveling was such an influential and significant part of my life. I would spend at least half the year traveling solo, visiting over 30 countries while documenting my travels around the world on my television show which aired on a significant Brazilian programming network. Now this nostalgic feeling overcame me at this time had the feeling I was doing the bags to more of these trips. All was well until I decide to look at the weather forecast. Rain and storm with the possibility of flooding every day, perfect. Then the panic began to sink in, "What will I do with two super active children cooped up inside all day." I tried to stay calm and trust that time would fix all.
The saga of arriving at our destination (Day One)
We live on the North Shore of Oahu, the airport is in Honolulu, about an hour drive from our house. I loaded up our car with one suitcase for the three of us, Jaya's car seat, the baby ergo strapped on plus a backpack with my cameras, diapers and some snacks. The airport was very calm, checking-in, and getting to the gate, was super smooth. The kids were so well behaved, working together, and being helpful. The 40-minute flight, felt even faster with the Ipad to occupy the kids with games.
We arrived at the small Kauai airport around 4:30 pm, which is way past Jaya's nap time, so she was pretty tired. I grabbed our bag from the baggage claim and hopped on the shuttle headed to the car rental lot. Luckily, when we got to the lot, there wasn't a wait, and the staff got us into our quickly. That's when I realized I had forgotten Jaya's seat, so I ended just renting one. At that point, she was already crying. When I got to the car, I was tired and frustrated. I could not put the seat carrying her in her arms, and she did not want me to put on the floor. I went to look for someone to help me, and I saw the woman who gave me the car seat, she told me "I cannot help you, there's a manual explaining how to use it. ", that wasn't the answer I was expecting, especially holding a crying baby. When I was walking back to the car, a man saw me and came to help, and I managed to put the seat and the kids inside the vehicle. It was almost 6:00 pm. I still had to stop at the store and drive another hour to our Airbnb on the north of the island. I found a store in our way and stopped. I bought a few things for breakfast, some snacks and easy meals to prepare. It was already getting dark, and my GPS took me to the wrong place. I called the Airbnb owner, and he helped me to get in the house. The house was great, had everything I needed, and the location was perfect. I was already completely exhausted and with a migraine that lasted the whole trip. But we survived, the entire process of leaving home and get to our final destination was very tiring, it was not easy to do everything alone with two children, but all in all, everything went well. I made a quick dinner, and we all went to sleep.
Our second day
I woke up early, or I should say, the migraine woke me up. It was super cloudy, and I was frustrated, the kids were still asleep, and I got up and left everything ready for us to go as soon as they woke up, I was willing to try to find the sun somewhere. That day we had a helicopter tour scheduled at 2 pm since the flight was on the other side of the island we had to leave home around noon, so our option it was to go to the beach in the morning regardless. The kids woke up around 7 am and 7:30 am we were already in the car. I saw from afar some blue sky and drove into that direction. I found a super quiet and beautiful beach near our house. The kids were happy playing in the water, but about 40 minutes after we arrived it started to rain a lot, I was with a bad headache and decided to leave. On the way back, they called me canceling the helicopter ride because of bad weather. The kids slept in the car, and I decided to drive a bit to get an idea of where to go next. Even with the rain, Kauai is undoubtedly the most beautiful island in Hawaii (my opinion). I drove up to the road the North Shore, passing Hanalei going all the way through Ha'ena, where the road was closed until two days before because of flooding last year that isolated the North Shore. No doubt we were going to come back to Ha'ena and Makua. On the way back the kids woke up and I saw a sign that would take us to the Kilauea Lighthouse, when we got there it was closed because it was Sunday, but we could see it from afar, and it had a beautiful view. We went home, saw a movie, and went to bed early (I still had a headache!) The first beach we went to before the rain!
Our third day
We all wake up all early, about 6: 30 am, the weather was still cloudy, but without rain, since I had no choice I decided to leave home sooner than later, took our breakfast with us to the beach and went towards Makua Beach (Tunnels), I always wanted to take the kids there, and today was the day! When I drove the day before I realized there weren't too many parking spots, but since we arrived early, it was still empty. What a beautiful beach! We sat to eat and was still cloudy, and in a few minutes, the sun came out! We swam, played in a banana leaf hut, and took lots of pictures, a few hours after the weather changed again. Our helicopter tour was posted pone for this day, and once again it was canceled. The three of us were exhausted, and we went home to take a nap, we woke up almost 4 pm! We went out to eat, got back home, it was still raining a lot and was already getting dark, we took a nice bath and went to bed.
Some of our photos from Makua beach
Our fourth day
It was kind of evident that despite the weather is not ideal, the mornings were for sure our chance to find the sun. The truth is that we fell in love with Kauai, Zion was already saying it was with nostalgia, how he was going to miss Kauai because it is beautiful and it has magical powers. Zion wanted to swim in a waterfall, and the day I drove as they slept in the car, I saw one on the side of the road and decided to go there, praying for sunshine to come out, After a 35 minute drive, we arrived. And no one was there! And the sun was shining! It's so good to see our children happy, and Zion was having a blast, already looking for a rock jump (of course before he jumped I made sure it was deep enough, and there was no danger). We stayed in the waterfall (which was just a river with a refreshing pool to swim) for about 2 hours, the helicopter tour was still on, and we had to leave because of it. But everything was working great when we got to the car a bunch of people showed up, and a massive storm started. When we were driving back, the helicopter tour was canceled again, and I just gave up on it, anyways I was already concerned about Jaya sitting on my lap for an hour during the tour, honestly I think it would be a nightmare, not to mention that I wasn't too confident with the weather. We take to stop in Hanalei town to buy some provisions for dinner at the healthy food store and ate vegan ice cream. We went home, made dinner, put the kids to sleep, and I started to pack our stuff for the next day. We'll be returning home later in the day, and I still wanted to go Ha'ena early in the morning, despite the tiredness, headache (yes, my headache is intense for five days, thanks hormones!), and the bad weather, our trip was really cool and the kids being super easy to deal with.
Our fifth day, we are going home.
With our bags packed and everything ready, we left early to Ha'ena where is the beach we wanted to visit, He'e beach. The forecast was calling for a storm, and I was not creating too much expectation, It was very cloudy and did not look like the sun was going to show up. But to my surprise, around 9 am, the sun came out! The beach was pretty empty, the water was super clean, the mountains with a color of green almost fluorescent with sunlight, I reapply the sunscreen on us, and we were there until nearly noon. Jaya started to be tired, and we left, when we were almost getting to our car, the world seemed about to end, so much rain! Again everything in sync! It was time to get home, put the kids for a short nap, and we were set to go to the airport. One thing is for sure, going back home for some reason was way less stressful than leaving home.
My conclusion about our trip and my tips
First of all, traveling is the best school that anyone can have, to see new places, people, experiencing different cultures, lifestyles, and beliefs, no school or college will provide you that, I say it from my own experience. I've always gone to the best schools and attended three different colleges. Nothing compares with the knowledge I acquired during my travels. Therefore I believe that traveling with children, despite being more challenging than an adult only trip it is very worth it. The memories and experiences of traveling, even at an early age, will stay forever.
My children are very obedient, and the only time it is more challenging to deal with them is when they are locked inside the house. Since we wake up very early every day and stayed until midday on the beach, by the time we got back home, they were already exhausted from playing and swimming, spending energy made a difference during the time we were in the house.
Here are some points that I think is valid to share with those who want to travel with small kids:
Children are happy with little, especially in contact with nature; they do not care if it's rainy or sunny; in fact, this turns into pure joy.
Less is more. Take a minimum amount of everything. I know kids use a lot of clothes, especially the little ones, I packed one set of clothes for each kid per day and took some back home without been used. And if you are staying in a place where you can do laundry, bring even less. My tip is to choose pieces that can be matched and create different looks, so when you take photos, they don't look like they were taken on the same day.
Always have some snacks for the kids, sometimes when they start to get very agitated, I give them something to eat, like fresh fruits, bars (please, not the sugary and thousands of ingredients), dried fruits, nuts, seaweed, etc. Any nutritious snack they like.
Interact with them while exploring the place, show them simple things like a spider web, and encourage them to show you anything they find interesting too, it can be the sound of an animal, stop, listen, and experience everything with them. Children are like sponges and absorb everything very easy, and that's when they will create those memories that will carry for life. It doesn't need a place with nature, anywhere you travel you will find cool things, share it all with the kids!
Respect their schedules. My kids (mainly Jaya) still take naps after lunch, with the rain almost every day in the middle of the day, I could go home and put them to sleep. But I was prepared to put her to nap on the beach if necessary, with a standard beach shack and a large sarong. Zion would not sleep on the beach but with almost five years he can handle without sleep during the day, but still ideal if he naps too.
The house we stayed in had a few things for the kids, puzzles and some coloring books and crayons. I had not thought about it, but it kept them occupied for some time. Next time I travel I will take little books to color and crayons, takes up no space and it's an excellent activity to pass the time.
Relax, have fun, and take lots of pictures and videos! I will not lie. I stressed out for no reason, after all, it was very nice to spend some alone time with my kids while traveling. That was my big lesson, relax more and worry less! Because in the end, everything works out!
If you have tips on how to make the experience of traveling with kids more pleasurable and comfortable, please share in the comments! If you have any questions, I will be glad to answer too!