Plan a Kick Ass Hawaii Trip on a Budget
Looking at the calendar, we realize that we’re approaching the one year mark of our last Hawaii trip. That’s insane to us. We’re dying to go back, and luckily, with the tricks we learned on our last go around, we can do that sooner rather than later.
Hawaii doesn’t have to be a budget breaker. In fact, it can be downright affordable if you plan it right. Follow these tips, and you’ll be booking your trip in no time.
Score a Cheap Flight
This part of the budget battle takes a bit of planning and finesse, but it will be one of your biggest money savers. Cheap flights are easier than ever to score these days, you just have to know where to look for them. Sign up for sites like Scotts Cheap Flights, which send you e-mails whenever they spot a killer deal. You can also check sites like Secret Flying and The Flight Deal regularly to score great rates. While it takes a little leg work, the payoff is undeniable. We recently found a round trip flight to Oahu for less than $500 a person.
Another way to get cheaper airfare is to fly during the off season. The off season is mid-April to early June, and during the fall (September to early December). If you book a flight during off season months, you’re more likely to score a deal. We recommend booking tickets mid-week if you’re able to, which can also slice off a few hundred dollars.
Hotels in Hawaii can end up costing a fortune, especially if you’re planning to stay more than a few days. Finding a solid Airbnb deal can make all the difference.
Look for a host that also provides complementary equipment use if possible (kayaks, SUP, snorkeling gear, etc). With the AirBnb market being so competitive these days, there are quite a few hosts out there who are willing to throw these in for no change. Activities like these are all things that you’ll want to do in Hawaii, but will end up paying $60-$100 an hour for rentals. Finding a host who provides this will save you hundreds.
Another thing to look for is discounts offered for multiple days of stay. Many hosts will offer a percentage off if you end up staying more than 7 nights. We highly suggest putting the time in to search the site, and find an awesome host who will help you save this kind of money.
Rent a Car
Yes, it is an ‘added expense’, but if you plan to explore the island at all, Uber or Taxi fees will quickly add up (especially if you need to factor in tip). Added savings can be found if you book your rental through sites like Costco travel. When you pick your rental up, request a car with great mileage. If you plan to explore, this will save you a ton. So no, you don’t need the fancy pick up truck when the little Toyota will do.
Shop for Food at Costco
While just about everything else in HI is more expensive, Costco has the same prices as they do on the mainland. If you’re traveling with a large crew, or are staying for a number of days, Costco is a must. Even if you’re staying at a hotel, you can load up on snacks.
Grabbing essential like snacks, small meals, drinks, breakfast essentials etc. will help you save hundreds of dollars. This is especially true if you’ve chosen to stay at an AirBnb, where you’ll most likely have access to a microwave or oven. Plan to supplement at least 50% of your meals, and you’ll be saving big time.
Use Travel Points
We know you’ve been saving those points for a reason, NOW is the time to bust them out. If you have a kick ass travel card, you can put those points towards most things that have to do with travel. Use them to get your rental car for free, or offset some of the AirBnb rental or flight. This is especially useful if you book your flights and rooms/lodging on your card. You can strategically use the points you get from that to pay for other expenses on your trip.
Many places in Hawaii are crazy expensive to eat at, especially if you’re looking in busy areas like Waikiki or near resorts. Do your homework, and move closer into town. With all of the information available at our fingertips now, you can easily find local recommendations that are close to your location.
Hop on to Google, Pinterest, or Yelp, and search ‘cheap restaurants in….’, then browse some of the reviews. With this kind of information available, there’s no excuse for eating crappy or expensive food. The extra time and effort definitely pays off (literally).
On your own. Together. As a group. Regardless of who you’re with, go out and explore where you’re at. Sure, it’s fun to do the typical tourist activities like Luaus or eating out at fancy restaurants, but we promise you that the best experiences that you’ll have are the ones you get for free.
Hiking is free. Chasing the sunset is free. Discovering the best beach on the island is free. And when you’re looking back on those unforgettable and unique memories, you won’t be wishing you’d paid for them.
Unfortunately, many airlines have begun to charge an arm and a leg to bring a bag on your trip. This helps them offer ‘lower fares’. Since bringing just a personal bag to Hawaii probably isn’t an option for you, save some extra money by downsizing.
Shove it all into a carryon, or combine for one checked bag. Pack light, and remember that most of your outfits (aka bathing suits and shorts) will be used more than once. Checked bags usually cost $25+ each, so getting that all into one (or none) is your best bet.
All of these are tried and true tricks to help save money in Hawaii. Utilize one or more of them, and you’ll be well on your way to saving some serious change on your trip.