Undoubtedly, Hawaii is one of my favourite travel destinations. What more can you ask for on a vacation? Safe, warm, easy to communicate (for example, you don't have to spend precious minutes trying to ask someone where the bathroom is in a foreign language), sunny, relaxing, beautiful, and lots of different things to do for everyone. The only downside to Hawaii is that it is not usually considered a frugal or cheap destination (we think of Mexico or Cuba as fitting that statement more so).
I have spent anywhere from five to twelve days in Hawaii, and of course, each time I feel like it is not enough! On the last trip I was able to go to two different islands over twelve days and spent $1500 on the entire trip (including flight, accommodation, food, car rental, and activities). Not too shabby considering that would be how much one would pay for a trip to Mexico for seven days, let alone an extra five days.
Here are some tips on how you can make your Hawaiian vacation a dream come true:
Get a Discounted Flight
Instead of paying $700-800 for a flight for a flight from the west coast of Canada to the Hawaiian islands, I was able to book during a seat sale. When Air Canada has a seat sale, West Jet usually falls closely in pursuit... and vice versa. Check out Bargainmoose's website regularly for Air Canada promo and coupon codes and seat sales. I was able to get 20% off my one way flight from YVR to Kauai on West Jet, and on the way back, I was able to book a one way flight from Honolulu to YVR with 20% off as well. For both flights I paid a total of $540. Of course, a trip to Hawaii from the East coast is not as economical as flying from the west coast, but you should check out Eva's blog post about direct flights from Toronto to Hawaii.
Opt for Accommodation with a Kitchen
Instead of booking a $250/night hotel or condo, I scoured VRBO.com and Homeway.com for accommodation with a kitchenette. This allowed us to save money on breakfast each day and save money on some lunches (a bagel, cream cheese and fruit was a great lunch for our hike) as we were able to buy something at the grocery store.
Save Money on your Car Rental
Book your car rental ahead of time. If you have an eligible credit card (check the booklet that you received when you first obtained your credit card) you should be eligible for rental car insurance, in which case you can gracefully decline their offer of added protection via car rental insurance. In addition, if you have a credit card with points, you can check to see if some of those points can be used for your car rental. If you are staying in Waikiki, don't rent a car for your entire stay, you only need the car a few times and try not to rent it on consecutive days (so that you don't have to pay $20 a night for parking).
Look for Free or Frugal Things to Do in Hawaii
Of course, reading a book on the beach is free. Walking around on the Waikiki strip is free (and fun to people watch). If you're stuck for fun and free things to do, check out About.com's list of 101 free things to do in Hawaii. If you are keen on going to do lots of activities (and have the energy) one way to save money while you are in Oahu is to get the Go Oahu card. The only caveat is that you should plan ahead and book ahead to ensure that you maximize the card. For a flat fee for the card you can get access to a ton of activities and attractions. Another way to save money is to scour the "This Week in Oahu" (or whichever island) for coupons. There are usually coupons for fun activities for cheap and even some coupons for meals (I got a plate of free gyoza when I sat down for some ramen) with a coupon book right outside the ramen shop!
Don't forget, you can satisfy your wanderlust and keep an eye out for some amazing travel deals on the Bargainmoose site.
Bargainmoosers, which is your favourite Hawaiian island to go to? What are some ways you save money in Hawaii?
Photo credit: Justin De La Ornellas