As you probably already know I have a huge desire to travel… but my bank account says otherwise. Most of us have this perception that it is only feasible to take a big trip every few years. Well I have provided a few tips to make your dream vacation affordable to allow you to travel more frequently. Hawaii is one of the most expensive states to visit but with these essential tips you can visit Hawaii while still traveling within your budget.
I look at saving money on accommodations 1 of 2 ways. First, you can stay at a cheaper hotel but you are more likely to spend more on food and drinks. Second, you can rent a vacation home (VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb, etc) and maybe spend a little more per night, but this will save you money in the long run. Renting a vacation home or condo allows you to utilize a full kitchen where you can cook and save money on eating out.
I researched some of the nicest resorts in Hawaii and compared them to condo rentals and found the average 4 star hotel cost around $400 per night. The average condo rental was closer to $200 a night. This was a no-brainer for us and we rented through VRBO and Airbnb during our entire trip.
Food and Drinks
One of the biggest expenses when traveling can be eating out. If you are traveling to Hawaii on a budget then I highly suggest going to the grocery store and cooking some of your meals. My husband and I went out to dinner a few times during out trip and spent $60 for the 2 of us. This includes 1-2 drinks each, an entree, and possibly a dessert to share. The rest of the trip we had cereal/oatmeal or cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast. For lunch we packed sandwiches to take along on days we hiked or packed a cooler for the beach. For dinner we cooked a few easy meals and enjoyed eating on the Lani.
Grocery Store Tip: Shop for your groceries before you hit the touristy town. You will usually find cheaper food and a larger selection at stores near the airport or larger towns. Also ask about free reward programs for additional discounts on select items.
We knew we wanted to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon, this means I had over a year to plan. My husband and I each opened an American Express Delta Airlines credit card and started earning points to put towards our flights. We used these credit cards for over a year and ended up earning enough points to fly for free (from Michigan to Maui and then Kauai to Michigan). Although we had 2 layovers on our way there and early morning flights, it was a huge budget saver!
This is tricky, some people say that if you really want to save money then don’t rent a car and utilize public transportation. However, if you plan on adventuring the island on your own schedule then I highly suggest renting a car. Car rental deals are available through Discount Hawaii Car Rental as they work with multiple rental car companies to get you the best rates within your budget.
This is where your trip can start to add up. If you are like me then you might think “go big or go home” or “I don’t know when I will be here next so I mine as well spend the money and sign up for the excursion” and I suggest spending your vacation how you want to vacation. We factored in a few excursions into our ‘Hawaii Budget’ and told ourselves since we saved money on flights, food, and accommodations that we can afford to pay for the boat trip and helicopter tour, and let me tell you it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!
If you are debating between a boat tour or helicopter tour then I would suggest a Helicopter tour. The views from the helicopter were breathtaking and a birds eye view is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Make sure to read reviews before booking a tour as some helicopter companies have regular safety inspections and stricter regulations.
We narrowed it down between 2 companies. The first was Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours because they had great reviews, a friend recommended them, and they are the only company who offers an option to land halfway through the tour so you can walk around and experience a waterfall up close. However, this option is a little more expensive.
The second company we looked into was Jack Harter Helicopters and this was the tour we booked. I wanted an experience where I felt safe but not break the bank account. It was also a bonus that we were with a family of 3 so they had the back seat and my husband and I got to sit up front next to the pilot. Some companies let you request the front seat, sometimes its an up-charge, and sometimes they assign seats based on weight. I always say it doesn’t hurt to ask!
It rains A LOT in Hawaii, especially in the northern part of Kauai. Do not let weather and rain throw a wrench in your plans. It might be worth scheduling a few “down time” days in case you need to move your plans around due to weather. The rain usually lasts for about 30 minutes and then the sun pops back out, so be patient.
For additional tips check out: Things To Know Before You Go To Hawaii