In 2018 we packed (just) 15 suitcases, 4 surfboards, and 2 kids and moved to Maui Hawaii. Having moved in order to pursue my medical career, 5 times since the birth of my first son, I feel my subspecialty could be consulting for traveling/moving with kids! The one thing I start with: The checklist.
Below I have my basic checklist for what to prepare specifically for kids when moving to Maui, in a timeline. Maui, HI has its own unique circumstances that make preparation even more important.
One year to 6 months in advance:
Plan a trip to research neighborhoods, schools, housing, activities, doctors. Visit Hawaii with the whole family. Contact all of the above and book appointments to meet in person. This may be an extra expense, but it will save you ultimately time and money. Many will be willing now to have virtual meetings too! Check with the school deadlines for enrollment and the requirements. Check the DOE of Hawaii website here.
Talk to your children about it. As soon as the decision has been made, tell your children and include them in the decisions!
Tell your children’s Pediatrician that you are planning on moving, in order to schedule any pre-travel appointments if needed and to prepare records. Schedule one last appointment before your trip.
Tell your children’s teachers.
If you will not have family in the area, consider discussing with a lawyer and estate planner about documents to ensure guardianship in case parents are both ill or die. This was a very important step for us since we felt Hawaii was so far from all relatives. We wanted to avoid the chance that state authorities would take custody of our children, in the unfortunate case that something happened to their parents. This ultimately gave us significant peace of mind, especially during the COVID pandemic and working in the hospital. Talk to your children about this too. Children that do not have close family in the area always have the fear of what will happen to them if their parents die. (My son asked me this question when he was 8).
6 months to one month in advance:
Contact your health insurance company and ask for coverage in Hawaii. Look into health insurance coverage for your family so that you are set when you move.
Find a Pediatrician. Maui, as well as the other neighboring islands, have very few Pediatricians and only Oahu has a Pediatric hospital. Finding an appointment when you need it may not be as you are used to on the mainland or in major international cities. Book a telehealth appointment or a phone call with a Pediatrician in the new area to establish care like here. During this appointment, you can see if they are a good fit for your family and discuss what is needed to establish care. That way you have a Pediatrician once you arrive. There are usually registration forms that should be filled out and requests of medical records from the prior practice. Our office offers free one-time meet and greet with the Pediatrician via telehealth platform.
To enroll in school in Hawaii, your children will require TB clearance. Booking an appointment prior to your arrival will speed up this process.
If your children have any chronic medical conditions and/or are on chronic medications, make sure to have refills before you leave. There are no Pediatric Subspecialists at this time permanently on Maui. If your child requires a Pediatric subspecialty it is important to find a Pediatrician before you move so that they can coordinate appointments with specialists and request prior records. Have a copy of all your child’s records with you.
Check with Maui County and/or Hawaii DOH regarding COVID requirements for travel and pre-travel testing. COVID testing must be done at a Hawaii DOH accepted center only.
Ask your children, depending on their age, to choose items that they would like to take with them. Plan to be able to travel as light as possible, especially with very young children. Carry with you only the items that you will need during the first days and during travel. Carry some essentials in your carry-on (I cannot count the times my suitcase has ended up somewhere else and I had to wait for it days later ….). If possible send items in advance with a moving company. Boxes can be sent by USPS (actually the financially best way, but can take a 1-2 months to arrive). Mommy hack: pack a little every day. Take pictures or put labels of what is in every box and number code them. Make an excel spreadsheet with the info so when your boxes arrive, you know what is in each box.
Gather all financial, legal, medical info in one place. Scan and save copies of everything!
Plan a ( virtual ) party for the kids. Give them a chance to say goodbye to friends and plan ways for keeping connected.
Book your tickets. Research areas in airports that are child-friendly and have kid playing areas if you have layovers. If you have a long layover, you may prefer to spend the night somewhere. Check out any sightseeing that the children would be interested in (There may be COVID restrictions). Try to schedule if possible flights during normal sleep hours.
One week in advance:
Cook in advance and freeze in individual containers so that you have some ready-to-eat meals. Stock up on healthy snacks for moving day and for the trip.
For older children: have them completely off all screens for a week prior to travel. Make sure to have them play outdoors as much as possible. During the flight and in airports give them a free “ticket” for extra screen time. I do this before every flight and it has made traveling so much easier! For younger ones, stock up on some new toys to give in the plane and stickers (during one flight, a sticker book kept my little one busy for hours!)
If your child requires any type of medication, (for example: Epipen, Albuterol inhalers, spacers etc), carry them with you in the plane in a zip lock bag with their name on it. Airlines typically do not carry Pediatric specific medications in the cabins.
What to carry in the plain for 0-4 year olds :
Car seat (check with the airline company for requirements. You will need it also when you arrive!). Check early for baby bassinet.
Double amount of diapers/wipes
Formula (if breastfeeding, breastfeed during lift-off and landing!)
Umbrella type stroller that can fit in overhead compartment. Request to have it with you in the cabin!
Mommy tip: have them wear bright colors!
Plan ahead and you will enjoy your move!
Dr. Irene Papaconstadopoulos, MD