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How to survive the flight to Hawaii
So you’re going to Hawaii, and you’re super excited. You should be! Hawaii is one of the most amazing places on earth. It’s also a long way away from where you live, and you may be wondering how to survive the flight to Hawaii.
Okay, “survive” might seem a bit extreme, but it is a very long flight.
Before we get to how to survive the flight to Hawaii, let’s talk about rental cars in Hawaii.
You’ll definitely need a rental car upon arrival; I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental. You’ll find the best prices on rental cars in Hawaii.
How far is it to Hawaii?
In a word: far.
The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated population center in the world. That is just a fancy way of saying that Hawaii is the most isolated place in the world where people live.
No matter where you live, it will be at least 5 hours to Hawaii and, most often, more. It’s about 5 hours to Hawaii from the West Coast.
If you live in the Midwest or on the East Coast, you will find it is at least 8-12 hours. I’ve flown non-stop to Hawaii from both Dallas and Chicago, and it was about 9 hours for each flight.
If you don’t live in a large city or live on the East Coast, you’re likely looking at at least one stop. However, here are some non-stop flights out of JFK and Boston on Hawaiian Airlines.
Should I get a flight with a layover going to Hawaii?
Many ask if they should have a layover on the way to Hawaii. The answer is complicated. I don’t think you should have a day-long layover (why take away from time in Hawaii?), but a stop/layover on the flight to Hawaii can be good or bad.
On the one hand, stopping means that you can stretch your legs, grab a snack, and get off the crowded plane.
On the other hand, having flights with stops means more chances for something to go wrong. As someone who has had to drive 5 hours after missing a connection, I wouldn’t say I like taking that chance.
The flight to Hawaii is long, but it’s worth it once you arrive!
Ultimately, choosing a flight with or without a layover is up to you. So, weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
Nothing is easy about flying to Hawaii, but there are a few tips on surviving a long flight to Hawaii that will help.
If you missed it, you’ll need a rental car once you arrive in Hawaii. I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental. Trust me; you’ll want a car to explore the beautiful islands.
Keep reading for tips on how to survive the flight to Hawaii and how to fight jet lag in Hawaii.
1. Buy tickets early
The earlier you purchase tickets, the better chance you will choose a good seat.
Waiting until the seats are the least expensive isn’t always the best option because only the “undesirable” seats will be available.
Getting a good seat can help make a long flight a little easier. It may even be worth upgrading to premium economy or business class for part of your trip. Premium economy can be quite the upgrade, but it’s well worth it, especially for the red-eye flight home!
2. Purchase a Kindle Unlimited Subscription
If you read fast, as I do, one book isn’t going to cut it. Besides, many airlines are switching to app-based entertainment services, so you might as well have a Kindle or iPad.
Sure, you can use your phone, but who wants to stare at a tiny phone for 8+ hours?
I don’t keep my Kindle Unlimited subscription year-round, but I use it when traveling a lot. I like to read on the plane or the beach, so I get a lot of reading done on vacation. You can try Kindle Unlimited for 30 days for free.
If you prefer audiobooks, you can try Audible for 30 days and get two books absolutely free. You can also check out the Libby and Hoopla apps, which you can connect to using your local library for free.
3. Bring a Travel Pillow, Headphones, and a Sleep mask
I don’t care if they look dorky and are bulky; I don’t like traveling without a travel pillow.
Even though I have difficulty sleeping on flights, I still feel more comfortable with a pillow. Memory foam is excellent and makes an uncomfortable seat much more bearable.
I have the Bose QuietComfort II headphones, which do an excellent job at blocking “plane noise.”
A good sleep mask is another must-have. I love to use an app like iAwake or Insight Timer for meditation or calming sleep music. Make sure to download your preferred meditation or music before you leave.
4. Bring a good water bottle
Some experts advise drinking as much as 8oz of water per hour on a plane. Yes, that means a lot of bathroom trips, but hey, you need to move around anyway!
I always bring a Hydroflask and fill it up at the airport or on the plane. There is a massive amount of plastic waste on planes, and I don’t want to contribute to it.
Lately, I’ve also been using my Berkey Sport bottle for travel. I have a Berkey at home, so I’ve gotten used to very clean water.
The Berkey Sport filters the water right in the bottle, which is great for some of the gross airport water.
It’s also important to drink your water before you get on the plane. Once you get thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated.
As tempting as it might be, alcohol is dehydrating, so it’s best to save your drinks for Happy Hour once you arrive in Hawaii.
5. Wear a comfortable outfit
We’ve all heard that you can get an upgrade by dressing nicely, but I’ve never seen it happen. I always see invitations to pay for a First Class upgrade days before flights, and they are almost always full on every flight I’ve been on (by the way, those paid upgrades are worth it!)
When first-class seats don’t sell, airlines typically offer them to existing passengers at a reduced price before the flight.
I’m not saying that free upgrades at the counter don’t happen; I’m just saying I’ve never seen anyone offered an upgrade solely based on what they are wearing. I think that’s a thing of the past.
One exception: If you’re in the military and wear your uniform, you do have a chance to be upgraded if there is room.
Otherwise, leave your business clothes at home or in your luggage.
Remember that Hawaii is generally very casual, so that you can bring a nice outfit or two, but the majority of people will be wearing shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, and sundresses. You can find out more in my what to pack for Hawaii post.
On the plane, keep it casual and comfortable!
6. Bring moisturizer and chapstick
Your skin will get dehydrated, just like the rest of your body. Make sure to bring a good chapstick and moisturizer for the plane. I like All Good chapstick because it works well and has SPF. I also love Mongo Kiss.
All Good also has my favorite sunscreen brand; check out my post about the best sunscreen for Hawaii. This moisturizer by Andalou Naturals is my favorite that is small enough to be carried in your carry-on luggage.
7. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol
It can be tempting to have a drink on the flight to help you relax/sleep, but the truth is that it will dehydrate you even faster.
Eating a heavy meal before boarding doesn’t feel good when sitting for hours. Try to eat light while traveling and have a more substantial meal upon arrival.
I find it better to bring your own snacks to enjoy throughout the flight anyway. I like things like granola bars, fruit, pretzels, and lots and lots of water.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to avoid it as much as possible when adjusting to a new schedule.
Most return flights from Hawaii are redeye, so you will want to try to sleep on the way home. If you use any sleep aids like melatonin, CBD, etc., you should probably bring them along.
8. Bring a blanket
I always have a”blanket” with me because planes are cold! You can get quality Turkish towels from Amazon that are multi-purpose, which is what I recommend.
The Turkish towels double as a coverup or plane blanket. You can also use a sarong. Or a towel; that’s an option too.
9. Carry some deodorant
Do I have to explain this one? Your seat “neighbor” will appreciate this one.
I love Native deodorant. It’s all-natural, it smells good, and, best of all, it works.
10. Download the Timeshifter App
Yes, there’s an app that helps with jet lag! If you want to know how to fight jet lag in Hawaii, download this before you leave.
This app has all kinds of features, including pre-travel adjustment and practical tips, and it even works in flight.
How to avoid jetlag in Hawaii
Another tip to avoid jetlag is to stay up when you arrive in Hawaii. It will seem a few hours later (because at home, it is), but try to stay up for at least a couple of hours.
Otherwise, you’ll be up at 2 AM. Great for a sunrise hike or seeing Haleakala at sunrise, but probably not something you want to do every day!
Sunrise on Haleakala in Maui.
Hawaii does not observe daylight savings time, so the sun sets around 6:30 for most of the year. This certainly isn’t going to help with how tired you feel!
Fortunately, Hawaii doesn’t have a lot of nightlife unless you’re in Waikiki. So, watch the sunset, have dinner, and go to bed early if you have to, but try to make it a couple of hours later than you would at home.
I like to wake up early when I’m in Hawaii anyway (and when I’m not) and get the day started.
How to survive the flight to Hawaii
One last tip on how to survive the flight to Hawaii is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself before your vacation. There is nothing worse than feeling sluggish and gross on the plane.
Moving your body, choosing healthy foods, hydrating, and getting plenty of sleep before your vacation can do wonders to improve your flight to Hawaii.
I take supplements like vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and elderberries to keep me healthy before and during my vacations. My favorites are linked, but you can check with your doctor or dietician to see what will work for you. 🙂
I hope that these ten simple tips were helpful on how to survive the flight to Hawaii and how to fight jetlag. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! No matter how often I fly to Hawaii, it’s never easy.
If you’re planning a Hawaii vacation, I have plenty of blog posts to help you along the way. You can find out which Hawaii island is best for you, the worst time to visit Hawaii, things you should never do in Hawaii, and so much more.
If you’re still in the planning stages, check out my Hawaii itineraries:
- 7 day Maui Itinerary
- 4 day Maui Itinerary
- 7 day Kauai Itinerary
- 4-day Kauai Itinerary
- 7 day Big Island Itinerary
- 4-day Big Island Itinerary
Things to do in Hawaii
- 50 things to do in Maui
- Where to find a black sand beach in Maui
- 100 things to do in Hawaii
- 25 best things to do in Kona
- 25 things to do on Kauai
- The 7 Best Things to do in Maui
- The 7 Best Things to do on the Big Island
- 7 best Hawaii tours
Ready to plan your Hawaii vacation?
I’m a Hawaii Travel Agent and I’m here to help you plan the ultimate Hawaii vacation. Contact me if you’d like more information. I recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
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