Aloha, 2014!

by Gray Cargill on January 15, 2014

Post image for Aloha, 2014!


Normally, during January, I try to write a blog post talking about where I plan to travel in the coming year. A “sneak peek,” if you will. This post. . .isn’t that.

Truth is, I still haven’t quite nailed down my 2014 trip plans. I will go to Europe this year, though I haven’t narrowed down the exact destination yet. Naturally, since I have a Las Vegas blog, I will be going to Vegas at some point. But at least I can say with certainty what my first trip of the year is: Honolulu, Hawaii!



Honolulu brings the pretty.


I took my first trip to Hawaii (also Honolulu) two years ago. While I immediately fell in love with the beauty and warmth of the island and its people, I didn’t expect to be returning so soon. But late last year, when I heard that United would be increasing the number of air miles required for award flights to longhaul destinations (like Hawaii and Europe), I knew it was time to start redeeming my 120,000 miles.

Every winter, I like to take a trip somewhere warm to get out of the six-month deep freeze of Vermont. This winter has brought Vermont both an ice storm and the coldest temperatures we’ve had in ten years, so I’m even more eager to get away for awhile. I can’t wait to shake off my winter coat and boots and throw on some shorts and sandals for a week. If I did nothing at all on this trip but spend time outside in the warm sunshine, it would still be a fantastic vacation.

But come on, that wouldn’t be me, would it?


North Shore

Maybe it won’t be raining this time on the North Shore


On my agenda are an eco-adventure tour around the island, a whale-watching cruise, a day at the Bishop Museum and Planetarium, the National Cemetery of the Pacific (aka the Punchbowl) and possibly an outrigger canoe ride. I’d like to dig deeper into the culture, arts and foods of Hawaii on this trip than I was able to last time. But I did learn  my lesson last year about making time to do absolutely nothing on vacation, so I’ve scheduled in some actual “downtime,” too.

One thing I won’t be doing is island-hopping. I had seriously considered taking a day tour to the Big Island for a circle island/volcano tour, but I finally decided against it. It cost $400 and meant I’d have to get up at 3:30am (for the second time in a week—ugh) to go back to the airport, and I wouldn’t get back until around 9pm. As cool as it would be to see the volcano, I finally had to admit the day sounded exhausting rather than fun. The volcano will have to wait for a multi-day trip to the Big Island at some future date.



Not a bad view, eh?


I’m not going to tell you where I’m staying until I return, but I snagged a great Black Friday deal at a hotel that’s just a stone’s throw from Waikiki Beach, with spectacular views of Diamond Head. Am I looking forward to this? Oh yes, I am.

What I’m not looking forward to is the 11-hour flight from Newark to Hawaii. This will be the longest flight I’ve ever been on, and a real challenge for me. If you’ve got some good strategies for handling longhaul flights (sleep, sadly, is not an option), please share them in the comments below! Help a sister traveler out!

I’ll be leaving in a few days, so be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter for pretty photos of beaches and tropical drinks. And if you happen to be in Honolulu next week and want to meet up for a drink or a bite to eat, let me know!



Carol January 21, 2014 at 2:21 am

Loved All of your articles & following you on Facebook.
I’m flying to Honolulu & doing the 7-day Hawaiian cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line – Pride Of America to Maui (Kahului), Hilo, Kona, Kaui from NC in Sept.
Traveling Solo….
Taking copious notes….. Need ALL the details, do’s & don’t’s.

Gray Cargill January 28, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Oooh, I looked at that cruise, Carol! Ultimately decided it would feel the opposite of how Hawaii should feel to me (busy as opposed to relaxed). But it also sounds like a great way to sample the highlights of each island. Have a great time!

Mira January 16, 2014 at 8:31 am

Load up your reading device with books. Play some non-wifi reliant games on your tablet/laptop. Catch up on your movies/TV shows on the plane. Explore what’s on your airline’s screen console; I once did all the seat exercises demonstrated there. I eventually get to doze off doing one thing or another. I’m used to long haul flights coming from Southeast Asia, so I’ve learned to at least take short naps. Don’t forget the noise-reducing earphones. 🙂 Bring a comfy neck pillow sprayed with your favourite scent. Good luck!

Gray Cargill January 17, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, Mira! Love my neck pillow (not scents so much, I’m a little sensitive to them). I’ve downloaded 3 of my favorite podcasts; that’ll kill 3.5 hours. And I’ve got tons of books on my Kindle, I just hope it lasts the length of the flight!

Lauren @BonVoyageLauren January 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Really looking forward to your posts! I hope you enjoy your week, it sounds like you have the perfect amount of activities planned. I went to Maui two years ago and loved it. I’m from California and I often forget how long of a flight it is for the east coast travelers. Just come prepared with plenty to read and cross your fingers for good movies!

Happy travels 🙂

Gray Cargill January 15, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Thanks, Lauren! Maui sounds beautiful, I need to get there on a future trip. Yeah flying to Hawaii is for us on the East Coast what flying to Europe is for you on the West Coast. 🙂

Art January 15, 2014 at 5:23 pm

As one who lived in Hawaii and now returns three times a year, I share your joy/enthusiasm for Hawaii visits. However, Waikiki is NOT Hawaii. It is a beautiful place but it is also over crowded and over priced. And if certainly doesn’t represent the beauty and diversity of Hawaii. I hope you’ll visit Kawaii, and/or the Big Island (Hawaii). And Mauai has great options too. And if it is posh one (but quiet/laid back) wants, the resorts on Lanaii is the place to go. Aloha!

Gray Cargill January 15, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I can see where someone who lives in Hawaii would feel that way, Art. Waikiki is definitely overrun with tourists. But to me, it’s still beautiful, and I try to make sure I get out of the city at least once a trip to see the rest of the island. I keep telling myself I need to go to one of the other islands, but I really hate renting a car and trying to navigate a new place on my own (I’m a bit “directionally challenged”). But I know I will have to do it if I want to see them (and I do!). Next time.

Luke January 15, 2014 at 1:33 pm

An 11 hour flight isn’t so bad…. I have done the flight between Sydney and LA 6 times now…. 15 hours each time. Twice I have had enough points to upgrade to business class with no extra cost, but those times crammed into economy for 15 hours were hell!

Gray Cargill January 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm

OMG, 15 hours, Luke? Brutal. The only way those flights can possibly be comfortable is in First Class. Sadly, I will never know. LOL.

Luke January 15, 2014 at 8:44 pm

That makes 2 of us… And I think it is really quite nasty that they make you walk passed all of the 1st class seats when you board the plane.

Gray Cargill January 15, 2014 at 9:44 pm

LOL, totally agree. I always wonder if the people sitting in first class feel guilty watching the rest of the herd file in.

Maria Falvey January 15, 2014 at 10:28 am

What an incredible destination Gray and one of the things I admire about you, always so willing to give, “And if you happen to be in Honolulu next week and want to meet up for a drink or a bite to eat, let me know!” I’d take you up on that if I were there. Can hardly wait to see what’s next in your travels.

Gray Cargill January 15, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Thank you, Maria. I like meeting up with other travelers on the road. One of these days, our paths will cross!

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