We made it back from a whirlwind and fun trip to the gorgeous island of Maui! We had so much fun - Bella was just go-go-go and we ended up falling into bed each night exhausted. We can't wait to go back again.
And as promised, here is a mini-guide to traveling to Maui with a peanut allergic child. Some of these are just general tips for Maui too. It's long, but hopefully some information will be useful to you guys. Today I'll talk about getting there (and where to stay). Tomorrow I'll post on eating, playing, etc.
Definitely bring your own food for your child (and yourself), but be prepared to give it up at security. All airports are different. San Francisco (SFO) didn't blink an eye at us bringing juice and milk through security for Bella, yet you would have thought it was arsenic in Maui (OGG). Go figure - the laid back, hang-loose-bra folks at OGG were all uptight about a sippy cup. It was nice that there were still lots of choices beyond security. A good tip that I got from another traveler was to bring an empty water bottle (like a nalgene one) and fill it on the other side (for free). For snacks, I took on cheerios, goldfish, fruitabus, and a cool little strawberry yogurt/cheese/grahams lunchables snack that seemed like the lesser of evils of the lunchables empire. Bella loved it and it was easy to pack.
Mark and I collectively took two bottles of benadryl, 5 pre-dosed benadryl spoons, and 7 epipens in our carry on. Again, SFO didn't even ask us to take the medication out of our bags after I told them, but OGG went on red alert. I guess it's better to be safe than sorry. Neither group questioned the amount of medication we were carrying (which in hindsight after writing it down, seems a bit excessive, no?).
Bella is a lightweight - barely 30 pounds - and slippery quick. We decided that she should sit in her car seat on the plane instead of being free in her seat. I thought I would show you the ingenious device I bought a few years ago. It's a backpack style car seat carrier. I look like a total dork carrying it through the airport, but boy is it handy.
We flew both there and back on United and things couldn't have been better. The first flight Bella and I sat together in a side with only two seats. After wiping down the window and all surrounding areas, we settled in to our seats. I had already checked to make sure that peanuts weren't on our flight (they weren't), but I wanted to chat with the stewardess (is that what they are called?) about any other hidden landmines. I told her about Bella's allergy, that no she wasn't air sensitive, but could she let me know what kind of snack they were serving and if the lunch boxes contained anything nutty? She was really helpful. On the way to Maui we had a little biscuity type thing - it looked like shortbread. It didn't have a warning on it (even for the wheat and egg) but it didn't contain nuts in the ingredient list. I still didn't give it to Bella though. She was busy with her lunchables thingie.
On United now they sell snack boxes. If you are flying United, the MiniMeal was a nut free option that was pretty good. For only $5. Bella ate almost everything. And then I hoovered up the rest. Gotta be frugal, right :o) ?
On the way back, we had a red eye (we landed at 6:30 am the next day - ugh). It was an easy ride back. Bella slept the whole way (and was asleep before we even took off). The flight was delayed a bit, but overall, we'll continue to fly United - the fact that we didn't have to worry about Bella's safety (as much) by using this airline was great. The only bad thing about the flight back was the mind-numbing, horrific movie that sucked us in like a car wreck and left us feeling humiliated, violated, and ashamed for giving it our attention. But heck, at least it was free.
While we were in Maui we spent the first 6 days at the Sheraton Maui. This was our third visit to this hotel. If your budget allows for it (I'm still not sure ours did), I would highly recommend it. We ended up splurging on an Ohana (Family) Suite since we used miles for our plane tickets. The suite was awesome - it had a separate bedroom, a huge bathroom, and a little kitchen area which meant we could bring in our own milk, breakfast stuff, etc. The hotel gift shop had all sorts of food, but there is a Safeway in Lahaina (a little bit down the road) so we stocked up there.
This property was so peaceful, the grounds were beautiful, the rooms were, well, roomy, they had an excellent pool for toddlers and the staff was amazing. It's at the end of the beach in a pretty touristy area - being at the end meant that there isn't alot of walk through traffic. The snorkeling is fabulous too - right off the beach you can see all sorts of sea life - even turtles on a good day! They have daily activities by the pool (lei making, hula lessons, etc.) and the cocktails are killer (albeit cough -$10 - cough - each).
Each night at sunset, they have a torch lighting/cliff dive ceremony. Click the link to see what it's all about. It is just one more thing about the property that makes it special.
For the food, check out my post on eating tomorrow.
For an example of how wonderful the staff there was: We went to Sansei Sushi (again check tomorrow for a review) one night and something did not agree with Bella (think south not north if you catch my drift). Anyhoo, the next morning I set off to the gift shop with her to see if they had anything that would settle her stomach a bit so we could get back to our vacation! A woman from guest services happened to be in the store at the same time and asked if we were ok. I mentioned Bella's gastrointestinal distress and she became very concerned, offering to send the doctor on property over to our room. I told her it wasn't necessary, but thanks. She insisted that I tell her our room number (not in a freaky stalker way) so she could send something up from room service. So I said ok, told her the room number, and figured I was in for a big room service bill. About 30 minutes later there is a knock at the door. It's room service with a platter containing two bowls of the most delicious, steaming chicken noodle soup ever, a plate of plain crackers, and large carafe of OJ. On the house. Was that nice or what???? This wonderful, kind act alone was enough for us to come back here again and again.
We spent our last day at the Westin Maui. If you have really small kids I wouldn't recommend it. Why? It's super LOUD (there are tons of waterfalls), the rooms are teeeeeeenie tiny, and there isn't a kiddie pool. That being said, a child who loves to swim and is a bit bigger would LOVE this place. The pool is like a Las Vegas for kids (and adults) - it has a nice big curlie cue water slide, basketball hoops, volleyball nets, and it goes on forever. It's just as expensive as the Sheraton though, the hotel itself is old (even though it has updated amenities), and it's right at Whaler's Village. All of this adds up to you not feeling very relaxed. Was it awful? No. But I wont be staying there again. We realized as we left for the airport that we couldn't even hear the ocean while we were there. And isn't that what being in Maui is all about?
So that's it for getting there and staying there. Now that I look at it, there isn't much peanutty advice in there is there? Not to worry, tomorrow I am covering eating there, so come on back then for some restaurant reviews and tips.