Hawaii bag packing
With airlines now charging a second – or in some cases even the first – piece of baggage and enforcing strict weight limits of “50 pounds per bag”, the frugal traveler is forced to plan wisely to avoid loading expensive baggage fees. I used to travel under the motto “Do not drop off your luggage unless you can lose it; if you can lose it, don’t take it, ”which is why I have never traveled anywhere with anything more than hand luggage. While it’s always good to travel as light as possible, with the advent of the new, stringent hand luggage limits and my advanced age (and accompanying growing desire to travel in comfort), I have learned to travel with only one piece of checked baggage plus mine to carry on . The key is to pack smart so you can pack less.
Be careful with your hand luggage: Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on bag and personal items such as a purse or laptop. I push it a bit, bringing my carry-on bag and my laptop in a computer package, which also has room for one video camera, my SLR and an emergency change of clothes (in case all my luggage is lost). They usually let me get away dry. Since I trust neither baggage handlers nor TSA inspectors, and my baggage has been lost more times than I can remember, I pack my second video camera and most of my clothes in a second carry-on bag so they don’t have to be checked. In this bag I also carry a quart of water (bought at the airport, after security control) and some snacks.
You will need at least one book to read during the flight; Your tickets, booking confirmations, travelers checks, phone number list, spare glasses and medication should be placed in a waterproof bag in the carry bag that you intend to hold the most tightly.
Remember that more books, extra batteries, memory cards, videotapes, or camera film can be purchased from Wal-Mart or Costco on the island almost as cheaply as on the mainland, and you don’t need to fill your luggage with accessories. If you are packing the film and carrying it in your carry-on luggage, make sure to protect it from x-rays.
Plan your activities: Perhaps in Hawaii you plan to engage in certain specific activities that require specific equipment or clothing – it’s best to think carefully about this when packing. If you are going snorkeling, many people are going to save money by bringing their own gear. This is a bogus saving if it causes you to pay for an extra piece of baggage on the plane. Buying your snorkel equipment on the island is quite inexpensive, and renting it is quick, easy and even cheaper. The same can be said for the rental of diving equipment and golf clubs. Activities such as hiking and horse riding require quite a special wardrobe, but if you plan well, all you need to do is bring hiking / riding shoes and an extra pair of pants and a shirt appropriate for the activity. If you plan to visit mountain peaks, be aware that they can be quite cold – even snowy or rainy – so plan ahead and pack accordingly. If you are bringing shoes, I advise you to carry them on the plane to save space and weight in your bags. When it comes to photographic equipment or musical instruments – any expensive or delicate equipment for that matter – my philosophy is never to put up with it. Never check cameras, guitar, laptop, etc. – it’s a recipe for loss.
Weather plan: As Hawaii is tropical, temperatures at sea level only fluctuate by about 10 degrees day and night, and all year round. It’s hot during the day, plan a nice wardrobe. The windward side is generally rainy, and afternoon showers often occur in the upper cities (mountains). Evenings, especially in the provinces, are wonderfully cool as there is usually an evening or sea breeze. With thoughtfulness, your wardrobe can handle all of these situations without being bulky, heavy or decorative.
The specificity: Hawaii suits are unnecessary; even District Court judges here wear Aloha shirts underneath their bathrobes. A nice shirt, usually an Aloha shirt, and a pair of khaki pants are the wardrobe items of choice in fancy restaurants and nightclubs – shorts and sandals everywhere. I would advise a complete wardrobe consisting of a polo shirt and several Aloha shirts, one pair of long khaki pants and three pairs of shorts, several T-shirts or T-shirts; that’s all you need to cover most bases. Women may want to throw on a light dress or skirt. Sandals are all you need or want on your way to shoes (your feet will be HOT) – unless you want to throw in a pair of running shoes for exercise or hiking.
Bring two swimsuits – you’ll be surprised how pleasant it is to be in the water in the hot tropics, whether you’re cooling off in the pool after a hot day or diving with turtles and fishing daily, so you’ll probably want to swim every day. Swimsuits rarely dry out overnight, and it’s much nicer to wear a warm, dry swimsuit than a wet, cold one.
If you plan on horseback riding or exploring higher elevations such as the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park or Mauna Kea, please bring jeans and hiking boots, a warm sweater, and a light rain jacket / windbreaker. A compact travel umbrella is always a good idea.
Don’t forget to pack your toiletries and personal belongings; I carried them with me in case I lost my luggage, but restrictions on liquids, gels, and razors make it impractical. Medicines are of course available in the package. A sun block, a sun hat, sunglasses, and a burn cream (I use aloe vera gel) will make your vacation smoother, but can be bought cheaply locally if you don’t have room for it.
Two things to keep your head on when you’re in Hawaii, by the way – if you start to feel thirsty, you’ve waited too long to drink water; if you start feeling the sun, you’ve waited too long to put on your sunscreen. Drink more water than you think you need, apply sunscreen before going out, and reapply more often than you think you need. Your body is used to more moderate climates and will not alert you in times of danger.
Many people plan ahead, leaving plenty of room to bring souvenirs and gifts; the modern restriction on the number of pieces of luggage allowed makes this impractical. Instead, I spend the month ahead of my trip going through my wardrobe, taking one very nice set of clothes, and the rest are items intended for the thrift store. Therefore I just leave them at the end of my stay so I have more than enough luggage space for everything I buy. Remember, the US Post Office sells flat-rate, prepaid, shipping weight at very inexpensive rates. Request a “Flat Rate Shipping Box” and have these gifts shipped home safely, cheaply and with no hassle on your part.