Yay! You’re going to Hawaii! What a dream. But first you have to get there. What a nightmare. Just kidding. But seriously, I have soooo many people tell me that they’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but they don’t think they can handle the flight. Well folks, it’s really not that bad! In this post, I’ll be giving you a little insight into what it’s really like to fly to Hawaii from different parts of the US mainland, dishing up some advice on dealing with jet lag, and letting you in on ALL of my secrets to surviving the long flight to Hawaii.
How Long is the Flight to Hawaii?
So first up, exactly how long is the flight to Hawaii? Well it depends where you’re traveling from. From the west coast, flights are only 5-6 hours (6 hours going, 5 hours coming home). From the midwest, flights can be 7-9 hours (hey, America is a big country and there’s a big difference between Denver and Atlanta). And from the east coast, flights can be 10+ hours (yikes!). Now I have not flown direct from the east coast, but I have flown direct from Dallas, TX (8 hour flight) so I have some personal experience here. I will say, these are DIRECT flight times (my preferred method of travel), but the majority of flights to Hawaii connect on the west coast so you’ll be able to break it up.
Jet Lag Traveling to Hawaii
Now about jet lag. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time so the time difference depends on the time of year. It’s 2-3 hours behind west coast time, 4-5 hours behind Central Time, and 5-6 hours behind Eastern Time. So your jet lag experience will vary greatly depending from where you’re traveling. If you’re going from the west coast, you may not notice it much at all.
Here’s what I’ve found after traveling back and forth a lot: it’s way harder to adjust coming home than going there. Mostly this is due to the direction you’re traveling, but I also think adjusting to a non-vacation routine just isn’t as much fun as the other way around.
So, what’s the easiest way to adjust? Personally, when I’m traveling (only 4 hour time difference) for a week or less, I try to stick to my home schedule (wake up and bed time) as much as possible. It’s easy to get up at 5 or 6 in Hawaii with the time change and since sunrise is so early, I like to get my day started early (a good strategy for beating the crowds at popular spots) and hit the hay pretty early (with the sun!). This isn’t too hard on Hawaii as outside of Waikiki there’s not much nightlife. This makes the transition back home a lot easier.
Now if you’re trying to acclimate to Hawaii time…most flights to Hawaii arrive in the afternoon. Do not nap! Stay awake and busy as late as you can. If you can make it until 8 or 9 PM, I consider that a victory!
Onto my tips for surviving the flight to Hawaii…
Tips for Surviving Long Flights
Before You Go
Use Seat Guru. Use Seat Guru to look up the layout of your aircraft (just put in your airline and flight number). Most aircrafts have some sweet little spots with extra legroom or more privacy that may be worth an upgrade.
Window or aisle. Ah, the eternal question. If you like to sleep and don’t need to go to the bathroom much, book the window. If you like more leg room and being able to b up and move around, book the aisle.
Get hydrated. While you want to drink plenty of water once you get on the plane, if you’re already dehydrated, it won’t help as much. So make sure you drink plenty of water the day or two before your flight.
Take antibacterial wipes to wipe down the surfaces around your seat. Trust me, it’s so gross.
Bring hand sanitizer also. You won’t want to have to wash your hands I that tiny bathroom.
Bring face towelettes. I don’t know about you but I feel so grimy after a long flight and being able to clean my face really helps.
Take an Emergen-C (or Airborne). Traveling can wreck your immune system so I always take an Emergen-C packet everyday for a few days after flying.