Flight over Hawaii - Hanauma Bay and Koko Head Volcanic Cone - Oahu.

Hanauma Bay Koko Head, Honolulu Hawaii ‰¡ Eric Tessmer, Molokai, Hawaii by Eric Tessmer is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

Though it’s not a 24-hour flight, like it was for me coming from mainland USA to Thailand, the flight to Hawaii can still be quite long for those not used to being in the air for 5-10 hours at a time. New Jersey’s Newark airport has a direct stop that takes about 10 hours straight to Honolulu.

Flying for that many hours – especially with kids – can almost be traumatic!

I’ve flown about 120 trips on big planes, and here’s how I get through long flights – some of these are when I’ve had kids – and so those tips are in this article as well.


If you have an iPhone, or something similar, you’re going to make it with a minimum of boredom. Load your phone up with mp3’s first. You’ll need about 20 songs per hour – at 3 minutes per song. If you’re flying from New Jersey straight through – you’ll need 200 songs minimum – and that’s if you just want to play them all and not choose from among them. You’ll need 400 if you want any sort of choice in the matter.

Grab some videos from Youtube. There is a great service called saveyoutube.com that allows you to copy-paste a Youtube URL into a box on their site and then choose what quality video you want to download to your computer. You’ll have to transfer it to your phone through Apple’s convoluted and more than ridiculous system – meaning, upload to iTunes and then download it back to your phone, but hey – you bought their phone.

If you were smart, you bought an Android phone, and can just transfer files easily from computer straight to phone. Saving about 5 hours of trouble. I have an iPhone, so yeah – I go through the trouble too.

Angry Birds – all editions is a great way to pass the time. Buy every edition you can. You probably won’t pass all of them by the time you reach Hawaii from the mainland USA – so you’ll have something to do for the way back home. Hopefully you’re so exhausted by your action packed Hawaii trip that you sleep the entire flight back anyway.

If you have kids – teach them how to play Angry Birds and 17 other games on your iPhone before you leave, that way they’ll be mesmerized by the time you hand the phone to them on the plane. If you have more than one kid – get the cheap iPod – which can do everything the iPhone does – except use mobile phone services. You CAN still make calls using SKYPE or a VOIP service that requires WIFI internet – so, it’s a pretty good deal to buy and iPod.


The iPhone is a great way to read Amazon Kindle ebooks or books purchased from the iBookstore at Apple. For Kindle ebooks just download the free Kindle software for iPhone at iTunes and register your device with your Amazon.com account. This way, you can purchase ebooks from your computer – or anyone’s computer – by logging into your account at Amazon, and once you purchase the ebook – it is automatically sent to your iPhone the next time you’re connected to the internet. The books you buy are downloaded automatically and it’s all very seamless. A nice experience. Similarly – the books you buy at the iBookstore will do the same thing.


I have yet to do it – but, you can rent whole movies from Netflix and view them on your computer. Keep in mind your plane to Hawaii will likely have a couple in-flight movies play for you at your seat.

Sleep the Entire Flight

If you are traveling alone, or in a group of adults – you can always try the “get a little hammered before you board” trick. For this – I need 2-3 beers and I pound them before I get on the plane. I get sleepy when I drink, so it isn’t long before I’m zonked out for at least 3-4 hours, sometimes I make it the whole way to Honolulu International Airport, Oahu – when I’m lucky.

Flying With Children

Flying to Hawaii from the mainland is a loooong flight made even longer if you have a kid that’s screaming for even a fraction of the time. If you are bringing one or more kids, I can’t emphasize this trick enough:

Sleep deprive them. Make sure the kids are ready to sleep as the plane climbs to altitude. If it makes you feel any better, you’re not really depriving them of sleep – you are preparing them for the big time time difference, so they can get used to it easier!

Bring With You On the Plane:

  • Long-sleeved shirt, socks, and some clothes you can bundle up into a pillow. They can give you pillows on the plane, but usually it isn’t enough for me and I bundle some shirts around mine to make it thick enough.
  • Ear-plugs – if it isn’t your kid that’s screaming, it will be someone’s kid. The problem is that some kids have a sinus condition, a cold, or allergies – and their sinuses feel like they will explode – it hurts a lot. I had it very bad one time, and I thought I would start screaming myself.
  • Lip balm – to keep your lips moist, the air is dryer than the Sahara Desert on a long flight. You might also bring something to keep your eyes moist.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes or lotion – if you can get it on the plane, but I think that’s been eliminated as a possibility lately. What hasn’t?
  • Bandana to tie around your eyes, eye-patches, whatever you can use to cover your eyes from the person in front that leaves their window slide open for the 90 degree sun to shine right onto your face, while the rest of the plane is entirely dark.
  • Deck of cards if you’re traveling with someone, or heck, even if you’re not – everyone knows how to play 21 or poker – right?
  • Pad of paper. I always write farewell letters to my mom and wife when I fly on a plane. It’s just a good way to pass the time.  I also bring some blank sheets that I can draw ideas on. For some reason, sitting on a plane with nothing to do but thing for half-a-dozen hours – really brings out some creative ideas.
  • Diapers, milk, wipes, snacks, toys that don’t make noise, children’s books and their favorite stuffed animal – or whatever is necessary to help them sleep.