Hawaii Posts

Great, Greater, Greatest!

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After 25 years of owning a brick-and-mortar travel company, Great Getaways Travel has decided to work remotely and become a “virtual” travel company, joining the 21st century finally! We are still a thriving company and are here to help you with your travels. Our phone number remains 913-338-2244 and we look forward to talking to you.

One of our favorite sayings is “Don’t let the good get in the way of the better and don’t let better get in the way of best.” We practice that philosophy in everything we do personally and professionally.

Because our objective is to create the most memorable vacations possible for you, we’ve decided to affiliate with Largay Travel, in Waterbury, Connecticut. It’s great, greater, and greatest news!

GREAT: We now have even more support and resources.

GREATER: Largay will handle all the pesky back office details freeing us to devote 100% of our time to planning your travel.

GREATEST: By affiliating with Largay Travel we are able to give you increased benefits when you travel, as we now have preferred status with several hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies.

PRICELESS: We are still very active and proud to be part of Virtuoso — you’ve experienced the benefits of that association.

So, where do you want to go in 2017? Give us a call, 913-338-2244, and start packing!


No words … heartfelt prayers

#Pray for Nice

Boundaries divide – Travel unites

When I meet someone, whether from another city or another country, I have the opportunity to be a citizen ambassador. Interacting with another human being, looking into each other’s eyes has a lasting effect and perhaps it will counter anything negative that they might have heard about me, about my country. Traveling is a privilege to share who I am and to gain more insight into others. I believe with all my heart this helps foster peace.

We pray for Nice and for the world. Spread love. Help others. Live in peace.

The Truth about Zika Virus

Zika virus Shutterstock

We answer a lot of questions.  From favorite restaurants to best surfing spots to best places to spot Africa’s Big Five, it seems as though the list is endless.  Questions that has been awfully prevalent as of late are those about the Zika virus.

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus has been all over the news and it is a serious worry for travelers.  In case you don’t know what this rapidly spreading virus is, it is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and, allegedly, it may cause birth defects.  [ As of the writing of this blog post, the CDC is in Brazil to ascertain if there is a link between Zika virus and birth defects.] Although we are just starting to hear about this virus in the Americas, it isn’t new by any means.

Found first in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands dating to the 1950s, the virus has never been as widespread as it is reported to be now. It wasn’t until May 2015 that the first case was reported in Brazil, where the virus has hit hardest by all accounts.  Although health officials are calling this a widespread epidemic, in reality only 1 in 5 infected will actually show mild, physical symptoms.

Zika Warning for Pregnant Women

Those who should really try hardest to avoid the virus are pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant.  If you do contract the virus and show symptoms, you’re likely to have mild flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Since the Zika virus can spread from a woman to her baby, it is recommended by the CDC that women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to anywhere the Zika virus has spread.

Zika virus test

Zika and the General Public

If you’re not pregnant, there are some very easy ways to prevent the virus and continue your travel as planned.  Make sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.  Stay in locations with air conditioning or screens on doors and windows.  Always use an EPA-registered insect repellant.  Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin, and make sure to sleep under a mosquito bed net.  If you do think you contracted the Zika virus, make sure to consult a doctor immediately.  You can treat symptoms easily though with some rest, fluids, and acetaminophen.

Zika Brazil Olympics

Summer Olympics in Brazil – to attend or not?

One travel event that you could be very interested in is the Summer Olympics located in Brazil- smack dab in one of the hardest hit areas by the Zika virus.   The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that Brazil is doing a good job making Brazil safe, and Brazil’s government is doing all it can to make visitors and athletes as safe as possible.  However, that doesn’t ease the minds of everyone.  Star soccer player Hope Solo, who could possibly be playing in the games, said that as of now she wouldn’t go to the games over concerns of Zika virus.  What about you?  Would you head down to Brazil for the summer games even when the Zika virus is so prevalent?  Sound off in the comments below.

Learn more here:

We are not experts in zika virus nor do we recommend a particular insect repellent. Some repellents are better for mosquitos and others may be better for ticks. Please talk to a physician, pharmacist, or knowledgeable expert for their suggestions.


Where To Visit On The Hawaiian Islands

By Damien Martin

Like an emerald chain, the Hawaiian Islands stretch across the Pacific. Forged by the fires of volcanoes over millions of years, they vary greatly in size and climate. What this means for travelers is that each island offers unique activities and experiences.

Let's take a trip to the beautiful Hawaii!

Fun On The Hawaiian Islands

Common destinations for visitors are Hawaii Island (nicknamed the Big Island because it’s larger than the other major islands put together), Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Lanai. If you only have a week, it can be tough to pick which to visit, but you’ll want to stick with one or two in order to maximize your time. For us, it’s like picking a favorite child!

At about 140 square miles, Lanai is the smallest of the tourist destinations, but it boasts a newly renovated Four Seasons beach resort, which also manages activities on the island. In the middle of the island, 98 percent of which is owned by Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, Four Seasons’ Lodge at Koele could be open in time for the 2016 holiday season.

Almost 30 times larger than Lanai, the Big Island is also the most diverse. It is home to Kilauea, the only active volcano in the islands, and Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the sea floor (13,796 feet of it tower above sea level).


Two of our favorite activities on the Big Island are Hawaii Forest & Trail’s Twilight Volcano Adventure, which shows visitors the red glow of flowing lava against the blackness of the night, and Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure, where travelers sip hot chocolate and gaze at the night sky from an elevation of 9,000 feet. Both are limited to groups of 12-14 people and highlight the contrast of fire and ice unique to the Big Island.

Locals like to say, “Maui no ka oi,” which means “Maui is the best!” With its vast array of activities, it’s hard for us to argue. We especially like the drive to Haleakala, the dormant volcano that dominates Maui’s east side, stopping at Ali‘i Kula Lavender Farm, Kula Botanical Garden, O‘o Farm and Surfing Goat Dairy.

Since Maui is surrounded by three smaller neighbor islands, its fun stretches beyond the limits of the island itself. Departing from Lahaina Harbor, Trilogy’s Discover Lanai tour offers a day of magnificent snorkeling. The SNUBA upgrade lets those without SCUBA certification experience a great underwater adventure.


The wettest of the islands, Kauai is the only one with navigable rivers. You can spend a perfect day at the Wailua River, whether you’re kayaking in it, hiking along it or frolicking in its waterfalls. Kauai is also breathtaking from above. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters’ Kauai ECO Adventure showcases the lush Na Pali Coast, “Jurassic Park Falls” and Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”


Last but not least, Oahu is home to about two-thirds of Hawaii’s residents. Featuring Honolulu, the state capital and largest city, and the gorgeous North Shore, Oahu is a stunning mix of town and country.

For history buffs, Pearl Harbor is a must-see, as is Iolani Palace, the only royal residence in the U.S. A 7-mile stretch of coastline, the North Shore is a surfer’s paradise, with the most famous break being the Banzai Pipeline. Not into big waves? Try a little soft adventure, watching the sun set at — you guessed it — Sunset Beach.

Now that you know the best each island has to offer, which one do you want to visit first?

Top 8 Family Vacations

MK Lauren Jacob Kauai

Here are Great Getaways Travel’s Top 8 picks for family vacations. Believe it or not, we struggled to keep this list a manageable size because we have so many favorites. Here’s what we’ve decided to do: we’ll give you our Top of the Top and we will break it down into categories in future posts.

First, what is a family vacation? Our ideal is a trip planned by the parents with input from the kids, or from all generations if grandma and grandpa are coming, too. We are also bold enough to suggest you can actually have an enjoyable time, yes, all of you, when you jointly create your itinerary. You know the basics, of course: nothing goes as planned so always leave a 15 minute window when scheduling activities; don’t overschedule; allow each generation some activities geared for that age group – including some down time; build excitement by learning about the destination before you go; and don’t waste money on pricey souvenirs that will end up in the back of your child’s closet.

Ground rules set, right? Okay, let’s roll:

All Things Disney

This includes Disney World, Disneyland, Disney cruise, any Disney theme park, hotel, and Adventures by Disney. Book as far in advance as possible for best availability and value. You . Will . Be . A . Hero . Promise . You know that our own Karen Henderson (*protected email*) is the Queen of Disney vacations, right?


Know which island(s) you want to visit. Maui – great beaches, resorts, some family attractions can be crowded in high season; Kauai – what we picture when we think of Hawaii – lush, tropical, natural. We recommend the South Shore for families. The North Shore is spectacular but it gets a lot of rain (a definite bummer for kids); the Big Island, Hawaii, is very family friendly and great for the active traveler ( a LIVE volcano is a serious memory maker – and fields of black lava rock suggest you’re on another planet); Oahu – home of a Disney resort and a very bustling city – think Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, the famous North Shore surfer paradise, shopping, dining and crowds; Lanai – closed for renovations is Larry Ellison’s island – think Four Seasons uber luxury with a kids program; Molokai – very primitive and we don’t recommend it for most families. Not sure which is best for you? Ask our Hawaii specialist, Shelly Lynch, *protected email*.

Ranch Vacations

Think active – horseback rides, hikes, cowboy life, and nature. There are so many options for ranch vacations all over the US. Google “ranch vacations” and be prepared for a herd of options. For the ultimate in ranch vacation (think cowboy with a big helping of luxe style) we recommend The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana. Kids  from 4 – 12 will love the Little Grizzlies Program. Mom and Dad can choose hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, or schedule some pampering at the Granite Spa.


Where to begin? You have so many options in this city, where English is the native tongue (that would be the Queen’s English, not ours): the Tower of London, The London Eye, a Harry Potter tour, Sherlock Holmes tours for the mystery buff, Buckingham Palace, and Harrods, of course. Miles of parks for kids to enjoy – St. James, Green and Hyde Parks are the most well known and central. And then there was the time we took our 11 year old to London and allowed him to pick a restaurant for dinner. He picked Burger King – we’ve learned to narrow the selection process after that!


We began taking family safaris when our son was 9. I remember packing a box of Fruit Loops because I was sure this picky eater would starve. I was wrong and we ended up pitching the cereal. Both of our kids LOVE going on safari. It is a magical experience. Who wouldn’t fall in love with elephants, lions, leopards, and giraffes roaming freely across the plains? For a first time family safari we recommend South Africa, an easy combination of wildlife viewing and city life.

young elephants friends forever south africa

Our favorite safari camps for families are Londolozi (I want to live there!) and Jabulani, named after an orpaned elephant and where you get to experience an elephant back safari (not for young children). And, just when you think you’ve seen it all, take a drive from Cape Town to the coast and treat the kids to some whale watching (in season) and get up close and personal with penguins. Ask Michael King, *protected email*, about family safari vacations. He is the Wiz!

Cruising Big-Ship Style

Nothing compares to the experience a family can have aboard a big cruise ship! Our favorites are the newest Royal Caribbean ship the Quantum of the Seas ( all Royal Caribbean ships are geared to suit all ages), the new Norwegian ship, the Getaway (and we anticipate the Escape, debuting in the fall of 2015 to be equally wonderful), and a Disney cruise delights all ages, too.

National Parks

Talk about a personal decision, this is one category that is difficult to recommend a particular national park! We are all familiar with the popular ones – Yosemite, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton and Sequoia – and there are so many other choices. Are you camping or staying in a lodge? Do you want to experience glaciers (i.e. Glacier Bay National Park)? Beaches (Cape Hatteras National Seashore)? Bears (Denali, Yellowstone, Glacier)? Kids today don’t experience nature very much, so vacationing at a national park would offer a welcome change from the concrete of cities and suburbs.

Washington, DC

Need I say why? Didn’t think so! The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Colonial Williamsburg, the National Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, Bureau of Engraving, and on and on.

Trust me, we have so many more ideas for family vacations. If I wrote all of our picks, my grandchildren will be grandparents before I finish this post!

What is your number 1 favorite family vacation? Go to our Facebook page HERE to share!