4th of July – Houston to Honolulu

When we learned of Baby Arnold’s due date, we quickly surmised that our annual Christmas/New Years travel plans were off the table. We are, of course, completely thrilled for our lifestyle change, but we were dead-set on traveling together one last time before Baby Arnold arrives. So, instead of the annual end-of-year trip, we planned a summer vacation — a baby moon, if you will. When we started discussing possible locations, we had three trip parameters: (1) destination must be reachable with a direct flight under 8 hours (hello, I’m pregnant!); (2) must be able to use points for upgrades to first class, preferably lie flight seats (I said I was pregnant!); and (3) location must involve low-key activities and mix of culture and relaxation.  When we looked at our options, we quickly choose Hawaii. Since John had never experienced Hawaii, and I haven’t been in 16 years, we knew this would meet our trip parameters and allow us to enjoy a “new” place together.

We flew United’s direct flight to Honolulu (IAH to HNL) on the 4th of July. While the 777 was an older model, it was retro-fitted with comfortable lie-flight seats in the first-class cabin. Per doctor’s orders, I sported compression socks and kept my legs elevated during the flight to reduce the potential for swelling. Go, USA!


The service on the flight was exceptional. I know United has a bad reputation for customer service, but I consistently receive great service while traveling for both work and pleasure. As an added bonus, I recognized the flight purser (we have flown on several flights together recently) and we chatted throughout the flight. It’s always nice to see a friendly face when traveling, and it’s especially nice when the individual is as personable as she. We were well-fed during our flight: warmed nuts; a salad, salmon appetizer, chicken cacciatore and green beans for lunch; cliff bars, Pop chips, fruit and chocolate, warm cookies and almonds for snacks; as well as a salad, fruit and burrito for a snack prior to our arrival. I’m not saying the food was five-star caliber, but it was pretty great for airline food. We were also well-hydrated throughout the flight — although I stuck to water and didn’t enjoy mai tais and champagne like everyone else around me. Ah well…such is life! The wonderful flight attendants made sure this “first-time momma” felt taken care of throughout our journey.

United Collage

I was able to nap during the flight and did some walking every hour (per the doctor’s orders). I also watched a few episodes of Covert Affairs (I am behind that I decided to start over with Season One) and Call the Midwife, and I will confess to tackling a bit of work too. Hey — sometimes you just have to take advantage of quiet time to get things done (Working from home and traveling frequently have taught me this invaluable skill). I also chatted up some flight attendants — I’m always on the lookout for travel tips and advice. These wonderful ladies had lots to share about traveling while pregnant and traveling with infants/babies.

Once we landed, we rented a car and made our way to The Royal Hawaiian. Due to the holiday, traffic was light and our drive took about 15 minutes. I’ll do a formal review of the hotel later, but it was spectacular. The hotel is clearly a part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection for a reason.  Our room wasn’t quite ready when we registered, so we hit the Mai Tai Bar for a snack and a few complimentary drinks.

Cocktail Collage

Once we checked into our room — we were upgraded to the Nani Pumehana Suite — we unpacked and crashed for a few hours. Glorious! Then, we freshened up and got ready for dinner. Although our bodies were exhausted, we pushed through in order to really celebrate our time in Hawaii. We made our way to Michel’s — a restaurant that came highly recommended by the concierge, as well as several friends. The restaurant offers magnificent views of the water and Waikiki, and we were fortunate enough to be seated by the (open-air) windows.

Michels before sunset

We started off with an amuse-bouche — John had the ahi and I had the lobster bisque. For my entree, I had the mahi mahi en papillote with vegetables and saffron rice. My meal was delicious and incredibly savory. Our server surprised us with a complimentary dessert for our anniversary. I actually think this was a mistake because we didn’t communicate our belated anniversary…but who are we to turn down warm chocolate cake and gelato?

Michels Collage

Throughout the meal, we enjoyed watching the sunset and nearby beach-goers preparing for the fireworks display.


Thanks to the five hour time difference, hanging out to catch the display wasn’t in the cards for us. Instead, we happily went back to our room and nestled in for the night.

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