Leni and I just took a solo trip to Maui for a week and it was HEAVEN! Tim was originally supposed to come, but he ended up being too busy with work and after a brief momentary lapse in judgement when I considered cancelling the trip altogether (it was very, very brief), we decided that Leni and I would go solo across the country (and the Pacific Ocean!) for a little mama-daughter bonding time. I figured that I only have a few months before Baby #2 arrives and this is the perfect excuse to get away and spend some time with Leni without all the distractions of home and work and our home-build. I’ve actually never done something like this and although I travel a lot, all of my travels are work-related so this was a BIG change for me to just add on a week of R&R with zero plans. I felt guilty at first, but as soon as I saw how much Leni LOVED the beach and the sand and realized how rarely we get to spend so much quality time together, I forgot to feel guilty and just started enjoying myself.
If you’re thinking that there are a LOT of warm places with beautiful beaches that are much more convenient to Raleigh, NC… you are absolutely right. Florida! Bahamas! The list of quick, inexpensive, direct flights goes on. But instead we went to Maui which is half-way across the universe. We literally could’ve been in a country in Europe or Africa sooner. The trip actually started because I’ve had a hunt planned with my dad on the island of Lanai (in Hawaii) for a long time and since I was planning to bring Leni with me, I didn’t want to fly all the way to Hawaii with her and miss out on spending time with her (my mom was going to watch her at camp while I hunted) and then have to turn right around and travel alllll the way home straight after the hunt. So I added a week in Maui together before the hunt to make the longggg travel days worth it.
The travel itself was definitely not quick, but it was manageable. With a six-hour time difference from Maui to Raleigh, I wanted to land in Maui at a decent time so I would have time to get a rental car and get to the hotel well before Leni’s bedtime so it wouldn’t throw her off her schedule. So Leni and I took a Delta flight at 6:45am and flew five and a half hours from Raleigh to Seattle, had a three hour layover, and then flew another six hours from Seattle to Maui. It wasn’t easy-peasy, but she was an absolute gem! When we landed in Maui I actually wasn’t even tired, which is impressive considering I’m five months pregnant and just travelled nearly 20 hours door-to-door with a toddler. I am putting together an entire blog all about traveling with your kiddos because it’s seriously an art and I have travelled a LOT with Leni by myself in the last two years, so I feel like I’m nearing “Expert Status”. Stay tuned for that!!!
On Maui, we stayed in Kihei, which is a more touristy/busy area and isn’t for everyone but I loved it. It’s centrally located, there are tons of great beaches, lots of amazing restaurants and it’s easy to take the stroller and walk everywhere. There are some insanely beautiful (and much more expensive) resort hotels south (in Wailea) and north (in Kaanapali, Lahaina and Napili) which look amazing but since our trip was during Spring Break, the prices were crazy so I tried to find something more budget friendly. I also really wanted an AirBnB or a condo so I could have space for Leni’s crib where she could nap/sleep and I didn’t have to sit quietly in the pitch black in a small hotel room every time. I ended up booking a condo in Castle Kamaole Sands and was very pleasantly surprised by how awesome the location is (with across the street from three great beaches) and how nice the rooms/condo buildings are.
I also recommend staying The Kutcher Condos, which are owned by my friends Drew and Jenna Kutcher, and are only a block from where I stayed in Kihei. I looked into staying there, but they are super popular and were already booked for my dates. If I can’t stay in a condo when I’m traveling with Leni, I always try to find a hotel with a separate area where I can put the crib (usually you can call ahead and request a crib right from the hotel!), or even in the bathroom if it’s big enough, but a condo is always great because it has so much more space, has a kitchenette, supports someone locally and often is even cheaper than the big hotel chains. It’s a win-win!
As far as packing and preparation, I did a couple things VERY right. The first thing I did right was pack using packing cubes. I got these on Amazon for $24 and I used one for Leni’s clothes, one for my clothes, one for my hunting clothes, and then used the smaller ones for odds and ends that I needed to bring.They kept everything organized and separated and helped me pack everything I needed into one suitcase.
Also, I needed to bring both a car seat for Leni PLUS a stroller and I couldn’t figure out how to travel with her toddler car seat all by myself, plus carry the suitcase, a stroller, a diaper bag AND keep track of a wild toddler. So thankfully I have a Doona Convertible Stroller which was a life saver. I’ve talked about it before because I love it so much. It’s a convertible car seat/stroller so I only had to bring one item and it works for both! I gate check it when I get on the plane and then use it as a stroller through the airport. Usually Leni wants to walk so it mostly carries the diaper bag and all her baby dolls in the airport, but either way, it’s a huge help. I used this a TON when she was smaller but haven’t used it for awhile because she’s kind of big for it now, but since she’s still under the size/weight limit that it suggests, it made perfect sense to bring it on this trip to limit what I had to bring. This was one of my favorite baby items ever and even at two years old, it still saved the day!
One of my best decisions of the trip was to use Maui Baby Rentals to rent all of the gear I needed for Leni during the trip. Since I was traveling solo and had to bring her car seat, my hunting gear and enough clothes for both of us for almost three weeks, I had to travel VERY light to get everything into one suitcase because I physically couldn’t manage any more bags plus a toddler. So before I arrived in Maui, I went on the Maui Baby Rentals website and I rented her a full-size crib (so she didn’t have to sleep in a pack & play-score!), beach toys, a beach chair and umbrella (for me), a wagon, indoor toys for the condo and a stroller. The best part was that they had it ALL delivered and set-up inside my condo before we arrived! Honestly, this was a game-changer and allowed me to keep my packing down to only the necessities. If this existed everywhere, I would 100000% use this service on all my trips.
Another SUPER cool local business that I found is Flytographer. Technically Flytographer isn’t local to Hawaii because they’re all around the world but you just go on their website and type in your location, and they connect you up with amazing local photographers in that area. It’s super user-friendly and their service is amazing and you can actually filter through all the photographers available and choose one with a style that matches yours. I knew I wanted some professional photos while we were at such a beautiful location, so this made the whole process SO easy and they did all the research for me! I know people who have used this service in all different countries so I will definitely be using it again next time I’m traveling and want to get some photos taken. I don’t have the photos from that shoot back yet, but I’ll share them as soon as I do! (In the meantime, you can use code EVASHOCKEY50 for $50 off your first shoot anywhere in the world with Flytographer!)
When I started typing this blog an hour ago, I was actually planning to list all of the amazing food that I discovered (we made a serious dent in the local cuisine), but now that it’s so long, I’m going to write a new blog with JUST food and activity recommendations because, honestly, the Maui food and beaches alone deserve their own blog.
Thanks for reading!! An official Maui Travel Guide is coming at you SOON! Make sure you subscribe to my blog so you are the first to get the newest posts straight to your inbox! And if you have any questions or requests for blogs, please drop them in the comments below!
Maui, we love you!
Eva and Leni (and the Baby Bump!)