How to prepare for your trip to Hawaii – 30 things you need to take with you

Aloha and congratulations on deciding to book your English language training at Global Village Hawaii!

Now you’re wondering how to prepare for your trip to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Let us help you take the stress out of preparing for your trip to Hawaii with a list of things you need to take with you.


You can read more about life in Hawaii here (


General information


Before getting into the list, first you’ll need a little history and general information about Hawaii.


The history of Hawaii goes back centuries. More than 1,500 years ago, Polynesians first set foot on Hawaii’s Big Island. In 1778, Captain James Cook landed on Kauai at Waimea Bay. Naming the archipelago the “Sandwich Islands” in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, Cook opened the doors to the west.


Western influence continued to grow, and in 1893 American Colonists overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.


In the 20th century, sugar and pineapple plantations fueled Hawaii’s economy, bringing an influx of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese immigrants. One of the most multicultural cities in the world, Honolulu is a melting pot of diverse cultures that have blended and transformed its traditions, festivals and foods. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th State of the United States.



State nickname: The Aloha State (State of Hawaii consists of 8 main islands)

Capital city: Honolulu (located on the island of Oahu)

Population: About 1,400,000

Time zone: Hawaii Standard Time (GMT [Greenwich Mean Time] -10 hours), 5 hours behind the US East Coast, 6 hours behind during Daylight Saving Time. (Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time.)

Average temperature:

April - November: 75-88F (24-30C)

December - March: 68-80F (20-27C)

Average water temperature: 74F (23C)

Area code/cell phones: The area code for all of Hawaii is (808). Cell phone coverage on most Islands is readily available. Check your carrier and calling plan for details.

Transportation: Transportation options include car rentals, tour buses, shuttles, taxis, mopeds, bicycles or city buses. Most students use the city bus to get around town.

Clothing: Dress casually. Bring a light jacket for nights. Suits and ties are rarely worn.

Tipping: U.S. standards apply: 15-20% on meals, at least $1 per bag for porters, and at least $1 per night for housekeeping. For taxis, usually $2 or $3 is fine or you can just tell the taxi driver to “Keep the change.” The tip amount depends on the quality of service you receive.

Languages: English is spoken throughout the islands, but Hawaiian is also an official language of the state of Hawaii. Pidgin English is a Creole Language (mixture of various languages) and is spoken in daily casual conversation by some Hawaii residents.

Seasons in Hawaii: Throughout the year, Hawaii has a tropical and warm climate. To see what the weather is like, visit

Voltage – electricity: In Hawaii, the voltage is 120V and a 2 or 3-prong outlet can be found. You may require an adapter to use any electrical equipment you bring with you. Visit for help.

Currency: Currency used in Hawaii is the U.S. Dollar. The U.S. dollar has fluctuated in recent years in value. To see current currency exchange rates, please visit:

  • Paper bills come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 denominations. There is also a limited $2 paper bill.
  • Commonly used small coins are the 1-cent (“penny”), 5-cent (“nickel”), 10-cent (“dime”) and 25-cent (“quarter”) pieces. There is even the 50-cent and dollar coin in distribution, but you will hardly see them as these coins are very limited.


For more information, please visit:


Now that you have been briefly educated on the history and some general information about Hawaii, let’s go over your final preparations for your trip to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.


Before you leave


What to know about your passport and traveling with the correct visa to Hawaii?

  1. Ensure that your passport is valid for six months beyond your intended period of stay.
  2. Citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program is required to obtain an electronic travel authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the U.S.  Students who enter with an ESTA can study recreationally in our vacation or standard course of either 16 or 20 lessons per week. This part-time study is incidental to your main purpose of visiting and sightseeing our beautiful islands of Hawaii. You should apply through ESTA at least 72 hours prior to travel. For more information, visit:
  3. Citizens of countries not participating in the Visa Waiver Program must have a valid visa such as a visitor visa (B-1/B-2) or student visa (F-1) to enter the United States. Students who enter with a visitor visa (B-1/B-2) can study part-time in our vacation or standard course of either 16 or 20 lessons per week. Students who enter with a student visa (F-1) must study full-time in our intensive course of 25 lessons per week. Please contact the nearest U.S. embassy for details or visit:

If you are entering the U.S. with a student visa, please make sure you bring and show your original I-20 form to the Customs & Border Patrol Officer at the airport.


What should you pack?

You’ll find that Hawaiians dress a lot more casually than you may be used to.  For the most part anything goes in Hawaii – from shorts and sandals to jeans or sundresses – but take note: shirts and shoes are usually mandatory at most dining and retail establishments. It’s recommended to pack a light jacket or sweater, because most buildings have air conditioning and it may be very cold at times.


Packing tips:

  • Do NOT pack or take prohibited items to the airport. Please visit to obtain a listing of prohibited items. If you bring a prohibited item to the checkpoint you may be criminally and/or civilly prosecuted or, at the least, asked to rid yourself of the item. A screener and/or law enforcement officer will make this determination depending on what the item is and the circumstances. Bringing a prohibited item to a security checkpoint, even accidentally, is illegal.
  • Liquids of 3 ounces (approximately 85 grams) or less (by volume) need to be packed in a quart-sized, clear, zip-top plastic bag. For more information, please visit:
  • Refrain from packing or carrying on wrapped presents. Wrapped packages should be mailed ahead of time. Only carry unwrapped presents and wrap them once you arrive at your destination. If the wrapped package sets off an alarm, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will need to unwrap it to investigate the source of the alarm.
  • Put all undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on baggage. Checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film.
  • Carry-on baggage is limited to one (1) carry-on bag plus one (1) personal item. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases. Remember, 1+1. Checked baggage is limited to two (2) per passenger. Please check directly with the airline if you have any questions about baggage and the fees that apply.
  • Place identification tags in and on all of your baggage. Don't forget to label your laptop computer. Computers are one of the most forgotten items at screening checkpoints.


Here’s a recommended packing checklist for you:




Jeans/long pants (thin, not too heavy)


Sleeveless tops

Skirts, sundresses

Long sleeve tops (thin, not too heavy)


Socks and underwear

Sun hat

Running shoes / flip-flops / sandals



Shower soap

Tooth brush


Lotion / moisturizer



Razor and shaving cream






Study materials [dictionary, pen, notebook, bag, etc.]


Carry-on items for the flight:

I-20 form [students with student visas]




Global Village Hawaii contact information


Flight / accommodation information

Laptop computer

Cell or smartphone


In addition to the above items, please bring an open mind, willingness to improve your English language skills, and positive vibes! ☺


Final checklist

Before you leave home for the airport, go through this checklist:


  1. Confirm your flight and make sure Global Village Hawaii has your latest flight information.
  2. Make sure you have your Homestay/Accommodation address and phone number with you.
  3. Make sure you have your airline ticket, passport and I-20 form [students with student visas] with you
  4. Make sure you have your wallet / purse and cell/smartphone


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When you arrive in Honolulu


When you arrive in Honolulu, after getting your luggage at the Baggage Claim Area, please proceed to the curbside to meet your driver/host family.


For International Arrivals, after getting your luggage, please exit to the right, through the ‘Individual Traveler or EXIT 2’. This area can be very crowded so look for an orange sign with your name on it.  The person holding the sign is your driver/host family. This driver will take you to your Homestay/Accommodations.


For students staying at apartments/student residence/dormitory, please contact the reservation line or resident manager. The contact information can be found on your accommodation confirmation letter.


Please call the School Emergency Number: 1-808-341-0664 (or if calling from a local phone, only dial 341-0664), if:


  1. You missed your connecting flight OR
  2. You have been delayed by immigration OR
  3. You cannot find your driver/host family at the airport after waiting more than 20 minutes


When you call the emergency number, please:

  1. Say or spell your name.
  2. Tell us why you are calling.  Examples:
    • “I have missed my connecting flight.  I will be late. My new flight number and time is…”
    • “I have been delayed by airport customs officials.”
    • “I cannot find my driver.”


If you cannot call the emergency number by yourself, please ask someone to help you. For example:

  • Ask the airline staff or an airport official (information booth)
  • Phone your travel agent to pass on the information


If you haven’t arranged airport pick-up and need a taxi/ride sharing/shuttle, proceed to the designated area by following the signs.  One of the attendants will help you find a driver to take you into the city or be able to show you where to take public transit.


Please note that public buses do not allow suitcases. For more information about baggage rules on the bus, visit:


See you soon!



We hope you find this guide useful! If you need any further assistance, please contact us at You may also view our Pre-Arrival Package at: .

See you soon here in paradise and thank you for choosing to study English at Global Village Hawaii, Hawaii’s premier English language school!


Read more about studying English abroad in Hawaii at