After several months of planning, we are finally flying to Oahu. I did my online flight check in, packed our bags (and found out I forgot some things later), and was awake at 4am like a crazy person.
I got the boys up at 4:30am for our planned departure from home an hour later. It takes an hour to drive to the airport and we were advised to arrive 3 hours before our flight time of 9:30am. Because it’s so freaking hard to get three kids, luggage, strollers, and extra car seats out of the house and into the car, we actually arrived closer to 7am at the airport instead of 6:30am.
Now, if any of you are frequent travelers, you probably have your airport navigation plan down pat. As a parent, I have only flown in 2009, 2012, and 2016, and security measures are always changing. Needless to say, every time I’ve been to the airport with the kids, I’m always confused about where to go and what I’m doing.
We traveled with my parents before and watched them sail through Nexus and TSA Precheck lines, while we waited like suckers with the kids in regular lines. I did the logical thing and got Nexus cards for the whole family and guess what? They said with kids we don’t go through Nexus security anyway. At YVR airport, we were redirected to the family line, so I didn’t need the Nexus cards to be expedited through anyway. What sucked is that the only advantage of the family line is a shorter wait. You still have to remove your shoes, jackets, electronics etc. No easy feat with three kids.
Does anyone else feel super stressed out going through security? Between trying to get the shoes and jackets off of my kids, loading all of their carry-on baggage and digging the electronics and medications out, it feels like a harrowing experience when there is a mile-long line of people waiting behind you, staring with their eyes, trying to will you to go faster. Then when we’re all done, I have to gather everything and the children. To get out of there quickly our shoes and jackets get thrown under the stroller, electronics get thrown back into backpacks. Then boarding passes and IDs are counted and recounted. It’s a relief to be through security but I want to book it out of there in case they change their minds.
Then we hit US Customs preclearance, our first as Nexus members. Again I had no idea what I was doing, so somebody helped us. Even then, my face somehow ended up on my husband’s ticket, but they let us through anyway because they felt sorry that I was such a dork. And I don’t mean a photobomb on the side… I was full on in the middle of his picture like it was my picture. Anyway… We got through customs and the whole ordeal took about an hour from car parked to the gate. Success!
Right near our gate was a little play area where my youngest busied herself for the two hours before the flight was to leave. The line at Tim Horton’s was monstrous, but my starving husband braved it to pick up breakfast and also provisions for the six hour flight. I took a couple of bites to go with my Advil and that was it. When I’m dealing with IBD, the last thing I want is an attack during a six hour flight on a full aircraft. In this situation (which admittedly is not a good way to handle it), I fast. I’m so worried about eating something that may trigger an attack that I just remove that fear by just not eating. And the Advil is for the inevitable discomfort I get from sitting for long periods of time. It aggravates the stiffness in my spine and hips.
We finally board the plane and take off without incident. The one huge pleasant surprise was that my two littles didn’t need any electronics for the entire flight, other than my fourth grader wanting to see where we were on the flight map. It was an absolute dream. My preschooler was coloring, drawing, looking at books etc. My fourth grader was coloring in his grown-up coloring book, looking out the window, and reading. I had my tablet and phone ready in case, but I never needed it. My teenager, on the other hand, sat with his dad and watched movies for the entire flight. He said reading gave him a headache. Okay.
When we touched down in Honolulu, we hurriedly gathered our luggage and gear and hustled over to get the rental car. I try to avoid shuttles only because I have so many kids and bags to lug on and off. I researched which companies were in walking distance of the airport and ended up choosing Avis. To avoid the rental counter, I signed up for Avis Preferred ahead of time. We walked across the road to the parking garage, took the elevator to the third floor and were able to get the car in minutes.
Using Google maps on my phone, we found our way to Aulani easily. We checked in at about 3:30pm, but because I had a specific room request, we waited until exactly 4pm to get in to our room.
We were staying in a two-bedroom villa with an island garden view. Since we had a full kitchen in our suite, I had ordered groceries delivered from Safeway through Instacart to make feeding the family more affordable during our stay. Unfortunately the delivery came early (I requested 5pm) and had to be dropped at bell services instead of delivered directly to us. When deliveries go through bell services, there is a ten dollar charge from the hotel and when the groceries get delivered, you tip on top of that. If you’re able to meet your Instacart guy in the lobby, it saves you a few dollars. I would still definitely recommend having your groceries delivered if you don’t have the energy to go shopping after your flight. Stay tuned for more on Aulani!