One of the trickiest parts of planning a trip for me is finding just the right place to stay. My trips to Hawaii are pretty active and include plenty of exploring so I don’t want to pay a bundle on a fancy beach resort when I’ll be off hiking through jungles and searching for lava flow, however sometimes a budget hotel can leave a little to be desired when I’m in the mood to lounge at the beach or poolside.
And did you know that I 2015, the average price of a hotel in Hawaii was $285 with tax??? And that’s for nothing special! If that number has you rethinking whether or not your trip to Hawaii is going to be possible, you’ll love the idea of staying in an Airbnb!
What is Airbnb? Airbnb is an online booking platform that connects people who are looking to rent out their home (or condo, guest cottage, garage apartment, etc.) with people who are looking for that type of accommodation. Operating in over 200 countries and 35,000 cities, Airbnb has over 10,000 listings in Hawaii alone!
How does it work? By doing a simple search by island, you’ll be able to find a wide (price and type) range of accommodation. Some Airbnb listings are for a shared or private room in the “host’s” house and some are for an entire apartment, condo, or house. You can refine your search to fit certain criteria (part of the island, price, style, etc.) before you start weeding through specific properties. Once you settle on a property, you’ll work out the details with the host and submit your payment through Airbnb’s online booking system, which mediates the transaction.
Why Airbnb in Hawaii? Airbnb is a popular accommodation source all over the world, but Hawaii is an Airbnber’s dream. Hawaii has a great variety of accommodation options, which makes it the perfect place to try out Airbnb. Since Hawaii is a major vacation destination, there are of course MANY condos to choose form but besides condos, Hawaii has a ton of “ohanas.” Ohana means family (any Lilo and Stitch fans out there???) and in Hawaii the term is applied to separate living units located on the same property as the main house. Many homes in Hawaii are divided up into multiple spaces (each with its own private entrance, bathroom, kitchenette, etc.) while some have a guest cottage on the property. Because so many homes are configured this way, it’s easy to find a private apartment or cottage on the same property with a local host.
How does it save me money? There are several ways you’ll save money on a trip to Hawaii by staying in an Airbnb. The biggest way you’ll save money is that it’s soooo much cheaper than staying at a resort or hotel. On many islands you can find condos or ohanas either right on or just a block or two from the beach. Plus, resorts can get expensive really fast if you have more than two adults staying in a room. Airbnbs are perfect for larger parties who can rent an entire house or multi bedroom condo and split the cost. Another big benefit that Airbnbs offer is the full kitchen (or kitchenette depending on what you book). Having a place to cook some meals and a fridge to store snacks and drinks can really save you a lot. Another big plus to staying in a hosted Airbnb is that they often provide gear for you to use. If you’re staying at a beach resort, they’ll only provide chairs and umbrellas for you at their beach, but an Airbnb or condo will often have chairs, umbrellas, beach towels, coolers, and snorkeling gear for you to use during your stay. This is a pretty big bonus if you’re the adventuresome type who likes to check out different beaches and do day trips to explore the island.
Pssst…I’ve got a little something that will help you out with managing your budget. Click the graphic below to snag your FREE Hawaii vacation budget planning workbook (it also comes with itinerary planning pages)!
What should I know before I book an Airbnb? Here are some tips for booking for Airbnb:
- Consider what you need. What’s important to you? Are you looking for a specific location near a certain beach or resort area? Do you need a full kitchen? Reliable Wi-Fi? A full house or just a room? Be clear about what you want before you start searching.
- Read reviews. Reviews are the lifeblood of Airbnb. Before you even consider staying at a property, you should read up on what people who have stayed there have to say. Remember, you’ll only hear the good points from the host but reviews usually give a much more honest story.
- Read all of the property rules. Different hosts have different rules for their property so be sure to read up on them and make sure that they’ll work for you.
- Ask plenty of questions. When you’re seriously considering staying at a specific property, you should correspond with the host and ask them any questions you may have. There are some Airbnb properties that you can book without approval from the host (a pretty high percentage of the ones in Hawaii), but many require approval from the host before you can book. If you’re a good communicator and you ask thoughtful questions, it will go a long way to showing that you’re a serious guest who will treat their property with respect.
- Count the extra costs. Be sure to factor in any security deposits and cleaning fees.
- Know the cancellation policy. Each property and host will have different terms so know what they are before you commit.
- Contact Airbnb within 24 hours of checking in if you have problems. When you submit your payment to Airbnb, they actually withhold it from the host until 24 hours after you check in. So if you have any issues with your host or your property not meeting your expectations, report it to Airbnb within 24 and they’ll sort out your refund. Once the payment is released to the host, you’ll have much less room to negotiate.
Are you loving these tips? If you want a full step by step strategy for how to save $1000 on your trip to Hawaii, sign up for my online workshop, Hawaii Dreamin.’ You can sign up here or by clicking the image below. In this workshop, I teach the strategies that I use to dramatically cut the costs on my trips to Hawaii and cover every aspect of saving including airfare, accommodation, food and activities plus picking the absolute cheapest time of year to visit.