If you’re tossing around the idea of a Hawaii vacation, you probably know that the dream vacation often comes with a not so dreamy price tag. If you only have a vague idea of the exact numbers, check out this post on how much a trip to Hawaii costs. Once you get over the sticker shocks, here are 10 ways you can do Hawaii on a budget:
1.Don’t travel during high season. This is the single biggest way to save money on your Hawaiian vacation. High season is around the winter holidays and summer months. If you’re able to travel during the low season (there really is no “off” season in Hawaii), you’ll save a bundle on airfare and accommodations.
2.Be flexible on when you can go and look for deals. If you’re flexible on your dates, you’ll leave yourself open to snagging great airfare or room deals when they become available. Subscribe to sites like Airfare Watchdog and Kayak and set a Google alert to track specials for Hawaii.
3.Book a package. Sometimes booking a vacation package will score you a big discount as opposed to booking your airfare, hotel, and rental car by themselves. Hawaiian Airlines often runs good specials (I would sign up for their emails) and if you’re a member of Costco, they have travel specials that you can take advantage of. You can even book vacation packages through Travelocity or Expedia
4.Travel with a group. When you travel with a group of people, even another couple, you’ll be able to split a lot of the costs. Splitting a two or three-bedroom condo (and a rental car) will really cut down on the costs and be much cheaper than a one-bedroom condo or hotel room.
5.Stay in a condo or vacation home. Choosing a condo is going to be MUCH cheaper than a comparable resort and many of them have resort like amenities. You’ll likely get much more room for the money and most will come with a kitchen and washer and dryer. If you’re looking for something even cheaper, many locals will rent out their “ohanas” which is usually something like a garage apartment or guest cottage. I’d recommend searching on VRBO for these types of set ups. You’re likely to get a better deal booking through an individual than a property management company.
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6.Choose the most affordable part of the island. No matter what island you’re staying on, there will be parts of it that are more affordable than others. On Maui, Kihei is a much more affordable alternative to Wailea or Ka’anapali. On Oahu, the hotels towards the south/east part of Waikiki (and even a block off the beach) tend to be cheapest. On Kauai, stay in Kapa’a and on the Big Island, stay in Kona for the best prices.
7.Use points for airfare and rooms. This, of course, isn’t an option for everyone but if you have miles or points on a credit card or with a specific airline or hotel chain, this is the time to use them! Keep in mind that if you’re booking with points, you might be limited as to specific times and dates and you may have to book pretty far in advance to get anything.
8.Book activities directly. Many people don’t know that when you book activities through the concierge at your resort, they’re getting a commission from the tour company (sometimes up to 40%) so if you book directly through the tour company, they’re often times willing to give you a discount. Also, while you’ll see plenty of sidewalk vendors advertising $20 luaus and $30 snorkeling trips, they almost always come with the obligation of sitting through a time-share sales pitch and property tour. I don’t know about you but 2-4 hours of my time on vacation is NOT worth that discount. I would cut costs other ways.
9.Go grocery shopping. If you’re staying in a condo or your hotel room has a mini fridge situation, I would highly recommend doing a grocery stop on your first day. Even if you’re not planning to cook all of your meals at your condo, I would still stock up on drinks, snacks, and items that you can pack for lunch at the beach. If you make your grocery stop Wal-Mart or Target, you can also stock up on sunscreen and other staples that you might not have room for in your luggage. For the cheapest groceries, go straight to Costco.
10.Eat like a local. Food gets a bad rap for being super expensive in Hawaii but that’s only if you don’t know where to eat. Anywhere in the resort areas are likely to have higher than normal prices. Even in the resort areas, many restaurants will have two tiers of restaurants, one high-end “steak and fish” option, and a more casual “burgers and tacos” option. For more reasonable prices, venture away from the resort areas and into the more local towns (hey, it’s still Hawaii and everything is still geared towards tourists). Also, never pass up a food truck, bakery, or little roadside stand. That’s where you’ll usually find the best food. Read this post for 20 of my favorite little spots on Maui.
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