Ahhh, Maui. A tropical paradise. A place to rest, relax, and get away from it all. Unless of course you are traveling with children and you have a 5-hour layover in the tiny San Diego airport. Does this sound like a vacation? Well, there are several ways to make it a great one and I will give you some important tips from my experience to keep your hair from going gray while on vacation.
First off, my family (my wife and 2 boys ages 6 & 4 at the time) and I had not one, but two big tests of patience to pass before reaching our island paradise. First we faced a daunting five hour layover inside the tiny San Diego airport. If you have been there you know what I mean by tiny. We were stuck in one small terminal with just a bar and a marketplace type deli. There were no long hallways for my active boys to go burn off some steam. No televisions either. Luckily, being first children, my wife and I are quite organized. There is a lot of work put in before-hand, but it pays off in the long run (most of the time). My brilliant wife decided that for every hour of the layover, the boys could open a small "gift". This gave them something to look forward to. Each "gift" was a small toy, a new pen, or a notepad. It gave them something new to kill some time with. The plan worked wonders and so the five hours passed with happy boys and each hour they had something to look forward to.
The flight was yet another test of patience for us. It was nearly another five hours on the plane from San Diego to Maui. Our biggest asset was of course the portable DVD players. Each of our boys has one for our long trips. They are the perfect tool to occupy an hour or two with a movie and are more than worth the investment. We also kept a few goodies for the boys while on the flight. Snacks are an essential survival tool on a nearly five hour flight with kids. Along with the DVD's and snacks, we also brought sketchbooks, markers, colored pencils, books, and a few LEGO's. Our boys both had their own carry on type backpacks with wheels (perfect so parents don't have to lug around extra stuff), so they filled those with things to do as well.
After the long travel day we were definitely exhausted. We were not, however, questioning why we made the trip with the boys. They were champs through it all. The payoff was spending 12 wonderful days as a family in beautiful Maui, Hawaii. Now, things to do in Maui for 12 days with our boys...I'll share that in another article.