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Overall, our trip to Kauai went amazingly well. But here are some things I’d change or suggest if you’re thinking of doing a similar trip:
1. Don’t get a manicure on the first day (or maybe any day) if you’re also using sunscreen or bug spray. Who knew? Both melt nail polish. Kai-Kai’s #1 goal was a manicure/pedicure, so that was our first stop. But then we went to the pool, and by evening, her purple fingernails had melted into sludge. Vanity and beaching don’t mix.
2. Consider a nature trip: Both of my mother-daughter getaways were touristy trips—NYC and Kauai. But the author of the book that inspired me took his daughters on a canoe/camping trip. I suspect hiking the Appalachian trail or canoeing and camping, basically getting away from the distractions of glitz, screens, and gift shops, might offer more opportunities for deep conversation. But I’d need to bring my Eagle Scout husband along to survive anything that strenuous, which defeats the purpose of a mother-daughter trip.
3. Don’t live an “adult” schedule: Staying up late and waking early to get to attractions makes for a grouchy teen, which results in a grouchy mom. Kai and I did pretty well at this—we even went to bed one night at 9 p.m. But even then she had a hard time waking at 7. Teens need a lot of sleep!
4. Don’t trust your kid to sunscreen your back. OK, OK, this didn’t happen on our Kauai trip, but today I asked Kai to spray my back at the beginning of our 5.5 hour Waimea Beach trek. Only as we were gathering our stuff to leave did the kids notice that my back now looked like modern art with artful light and red splotches. “What did you do?” I asked her. “I don’t know. I thought I sprayed your back” Sigh.