Between crazy work schedules, college graduation, a job search and an impending remodel, you and your family were eager to get outta town together to relax, so you booked a 2-bedroom villa for a week at Koloa Landing Resort on the glorious South Shore of Kauai. Knowing how precious vacation time is, you wanted to be sure you made the most of every moment — especially while your two grown daughters still (miraculously) like to hang out with you.

Here are some tips you came up with that really kicked the trip off right — before you’d even left home:

You booked your travel and lodging early

Vacation timing doesn’t always allow for this luxury, but this time you knew your travel dates well in advance. While early bookings do not necessarily mean lower fares, they do offer one BIG benefit: more time to plan. Getting a jump on the when-and-the-where allowed you the time to dive deeper into creating your ideal vacation.

You researched Kauai

You used your bonus of time to do some serious (and fun) info hunting. You found websites about Kauai and started making lists of the activities and destinations that most rang your bell. You asked each family member to do the same. (The best kind of homework!) Your spouse found info on good family hikes and watched some YouTube videos about the Na Pali Coast. He discovered a great boat tour, and because it was so early in the game you were able to book it on your day of choice. (You chose Sunday since you figured that would be one of the most crowded days back at the resort.) For Saturday you remembered to reserve your favorite Koloa Landing pool cabana — the one that was always already booked by some smarter family in the past.

Meanwhile, your daughters found influencers on TikTok touting secret beaches, hidden waterfalls and unique snacks. More invested in the trip now, they cannot wait to hike out to secluded Polihale Beach, sample the macadamia nut pancakes at the Holoholo Grill, and track down this Holey Grail food truck that serves taro donuts with flavors like ube-lilikoi and smoked coconut. You are all in for these!

You made reservations

Everyone in your family weighed in on a restaurant or two they’d like to try, and again the early birds got the worms. Your older daughter is sushi-obsessed so you booked a table at the lively and lovely Stevenson’s Library on the first night to ring in your vacation. You then all agreed that your big celebration night (a graduation, 2 birthdays and a new job) would happen at the well-loved Beach House on the water in Lawai. You timed your reservation with the sunset and even scored a window seat. You discovered that some restaurants won’t let you reserve more than 30 days prior so you simply set reminders on your phone.

You were starting to feel kinda smart.

You finally tried a travel planning app

You downloaded Wanderlog because you’d read it was the best overall travel itinerary planning app on the market. You’d never used a travel app before, but you love it because it allows you to plan detailed day-by-day itineraries, and it imports all of your trip information by date. No more searching through old emails for a confirmation number because it’s all in one tidy app now: your flight info, your lodging addresses with maps, your Turo reservation, your activity bookings, and restaurant reservations. It even totals what you’re spending in each category — and is free to use.

Where has this been all your life?

You watched some movies

With its turquoise waters, tropical foliage, and soaring emerald cliffs, Kauai is one of the most spectacular natural landscapes on the planet. No wonder it’s Hollywood’s go-to stand-in for paradise, multi-galactic jungles and exotic locales of all kinds. In fact, some 70 TV series and movies have been filmed in Kauai in as many years. You all agreed it’d be fun to familiarize yourself with Kauai locations by watching a few of these films together in the weeks leading up to your vacation. In Raiders of the Lost Ark you watched Indiana Jones elude a huge rolling boulder (shot in and around the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge), you saw the helicopter full of scientists float along Jurassic Falls (aka Manawaiopuna Falls in the Hanapepe Valley), and peeked through your fingers as King Kong palmed a tiny screaming Jessica Lange in the Kalalau Valley region of the Napali Coast. You watched George Clooney run amok through the streets of Hanalei in The Descendants, and in Honeymoon in Vegas you laughed at Nick Cage on a payphone trying desperately to say “Kapa’a” (“Is it Kapa’a or Kapa’a-a?”)

Once on the island you’ll have fun seeking out these locations.

You agreed in advance to ignore your phone, laptop and tablet as much as humanly possible

Okay, yes, you will use your Wanderlog app (among others) but . . . you don’t want to spend too much of your glorious, exotic, EXPENSIVE vacation scrolling on social media, reading emails, and being in your head about work, so you and your family agreed to keep electronics use to a minimum and endeavor to live more in the moment together. How often do dad and mom randomly dance the hula together in baggage claim? If the girls’ faces had been buried in their phones they would’ve missed it — and the endless joking opportunities along with it.

You read

You started a good book on your flight to Lihue — you’d never read the Charlotte Brontë classic, Jane Eyre and it does not disappoint. Getting into the first few chapters encouraged you to read more during your vacation, and throughout the trip you found yourself reaching for this deep and evocative novel about a unique love affair, rather than grabbing your phone for a swipe session. Thoroughly absorbing, it became your best poolside friend and paired perfectly with a very cold mai tai.

Upon arrival

You go swimming — prontissimo

Just moments after you arrive in your ocean-view villa, you all dig through your suitcases, change into your swimsuits and head down to the pool for a swim together. Diving into all that twinkling blue water washes away any travel day stresses and heralds the official start to your island adventure. The sun is ablaze, your girls are laughing (miraculously still happy to be hanging with you!), and your spouse is ordering a round of poolside cocktails with truffle fries.

It’s going to be a great week.

Come on out to Koloa Landing Resort asap — and enjoy yourself from the word GO.

— Erica Karlin