Aloha! I have just returned from an extensive trip (four islands, 26 days) to Hawaii. I had a blast, so I thought I would pass along these general travel/packing tips.
1. Pack scissors, a roll of packing tape, and a Sharpie pen. You will use the scissors more than you think (to cut the tags out of your new tee-shirt!) and you will need the other items to assemble and address the boxes you send home. I suggest the U.S. Postal Service flat rate boxes (large size, which is a bit larger than a large shoe box) that you can stuff full and mail home for $14.70. (This is the box you see advertised, “If it fits, it ships.”) You can get these at the post office anywhere in Hawaii or, if you are at a big hotel/resort with a business center, they usually have them there. I sent home four of these boxes. I sent them to a neighbor, and they arrived in North Carolina from Hawaii in four days.
2. Ladies, I found that sundresses are great for general sightseeing and shopping, and lightweight slacks with a cotton top are perfect for other, more active, activities. Also! Even if you are unused to wearing sun hats or baseball caps at home, WEAR A HAT. The sun is intense and your scalp will get sunburned.
It goes without saying to wear comfortable shoes. My Sketchers flip flops (really thick soles and sorta squishy) went just about anywhere. I don’t suggest cheap flip flops except to and from the pool or beach. They don’t have any support and your feet will hurt and you have no idea what you might be stepping in (gross!). Same goes for your fashionable shoes and fancy flip flops. They are okay for going out to dinner, etc., but don’t wear them all day. You will be miserable and your cute shoes will not survive.
3. If you go on any kind of a boat trip or excursion, DO NOT WEAR JEANS. If you get wet from the spray, (which is just about guaranteed to happen) your jeans will just not get dry and you will be miserable in wet clothes. I wore cotton slacks and even though I got pretty wet, I was dry again in about 45 minutes. Also, take a long-sleeved shirt or light jacket – when the sun goes down, so does the temperature, especially out there on the ocean! (Oh! We were required to leave our shoes on shore on a cart before boarding. No shoes on the boat.)
4. Sunscreen. Use it. Re-apply often. I found the regular stuff for your body (Banana Boat, etc.) to be really sticky and gross when you perspire, so I used my face moisturizer, instead – Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer, SPF 15. (This is not an endorsement of this product; I’m just reporting what I used and what seemed to work.) I figured if it was good enough for my face it is good enough for my arms and legs.
When you are lounging around the pool or on the beach, do not be deceived by that nice ocean breeze. The sun is VERY INTENSE and you will burn quickly if you are not careful. This is especially true if you are the least bit fair skinned.
5. Pack some plastic bags. Not the wimpy kind you get from the grocery store, but heavier ones from retailers – mine came from Sears! Again, you will use these more than you think – for wet swimsuits, dirty laundry, padding in your suitcase, etc. It won’t hurt to tuck in a few zip lock bags in various sizes, too.
Speaking of laundry, throw in a stain stick. I took Resolve – it’s about the size and shape of a regular stick deodorant. If you can’t get to a laundry soon, at least treat those stains quickly with the stain stick and you can probably save your garment. I also took some of those Purex sheets that are detergent and dryer sheets all together. They are flat and seem to work just fine in the washer and dryer.
6. Take a reasonably waterproof beach tote, preferably with a zipper closure. (See note about boat excursion/water spray, above.) I used this more than I thought – snacks/water, maps, brochures, etc.
Also, you might want to consider taking one or two of those recyclable shopping bags. But as a fabulous souvenir I purchased a couple at Target (!) because they have a nice Hawaiian motif, certainly different from the basic red bags available on the mainland Target stores. Most resorts have these, too.
7. Put something on your suitcase to identify it clearly at baggage claim: a luggage strap, a bandanna, a big fabric flower – anything. My black suitcase, even with its’ funky ID tag and yellow luggage lock, was taken by mistake by another traveler. Her suitcase also had a yellow lock, but she just didn’t look closely enough. She was kind enough to contact me and return my suitcase, but I had a really gut-wrenching 24 hours before it was returned.
8. I would love some feedback on this: I found that people who live in Hawaii give very vague directions. They just sort of wave their hand in a general direction and say, “You can’t miss it.” (Well, yes, I CAN.) I found this to be true even at the places that should know better – like the Hertz counter! As a result, we got horribly lost and overshot the turn off to the resort by about 15 miles. Ask for mile marker numbers, the number of traffic lights you have to pass through, etc., and have them WRITE DOWN the name of the road where you are supposed to turn. Let’s face it – a lot of the Hawaiian names sound alike, and they are confusing to our “mainland” ears. When you find the place, make note of the mile marker number, a landmark, etc. This is especially true on the Kona side of The Big Island – the landscape looks like the dark side of the moon and signs to direct you to resorts are not permitted. (Puzzling to me, ‘cause the place EXISTS because of tourism, and frustrated and lost tourists are not happy folks.)
9. I sent my hairdryer home because every resort provides one. Some are better and more powerful than others, so if you really need 1875 watts rather than 1600, you might want to keep yours, just in case. Ditto the hair products provided. At all the resorts I visited, the quality of the shampoo, conditioner, shower get, soap, and lotion were very good, so unless you need your particular brand of hair stuff, you can leave your shampoo and conditioner at home.
Okay, that’s about enough. If I think of anything else, I’ll post it.
Comments and feedback welcome.