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I visited Hawaii two times for conferences before I moved here. One difference between the two trips was that I knew how long the plane ride would be from Denver to Honolulu the second time. The first time, I was on the same non-stop flight with my boss. It seemed like a good idea — we would get to and from Honolulu as quickly as possible. Also, he hates connecting flights because there may be delays or problems. That makes sense, too. It all made perfect sense in my head but somewhere over the middle of the Pacific (half way through the seven hour flight) my body was very tired of being in an airplane seat. I actually dreaded the return trip home, not only because I hated leaving this wonderful place, but also because I didn’t want to get back in the plane.
On the next trip, we changed planes in California. The flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu is just over 5 hours. That may not seem like much of a difference, but to me being able to get out and walk around before the last leg of the trip was very welcome. On our most recent trip to the mainland we took it even further, spending the night in Portland before continuing on to Denver. We were visiting family in Portland, but it also made the trip across the Pacific fairly painless.
The combination of the trip duration and the time change (3-6 hours, depending on where you leave from on the mainland) makes the trip seem long the first time. There are many ways to entertain yourself and distract small children, but I think it is important also to know what your tolerance is for sitting in one place. It won’t be the same for everyone. On my sister’s recent visit, she and her husband used a layover in LA to have a nice meal before completing the trip. One fellow passenger on her flight from Denver to LA said his unhappy experience in Hawaii began with “the never-ending plane ride”. It is a shame to be disappointed with this first impression when there are alternatives. The most important is information: talking with someone who has made the flight many times. I’m not in that category yet — others on this website are — but I have learned what works for me.
This third trip was a joy! I knew what to expect and scheduled my flights accordingly. It was also wonderful because this is the first time that I returned to Hawaii as “home.”
(See Hawaii Vacation in One Bag)