Hawaii isn’t normally a place known for its low cost. Generally it’s quite the opposite. Most of the state’s economy revolves around tourism, which usually means high prices. So how does a millionaire who’s hoping to stay a millionaire do Hawaii on the cheap? Let me tell you how…
Flights to Hawaii
One of the big things I learned from working in the online travel field a few years back: Airfares are actually very competitive across most carriers. There’s not a lot of savings to be had here.
Sure, you might be able to find a few dollars in savings if you shop around, but in my experience it’s not worth it. Using a lower cost online travel agency (for flights) usually means getting bad service for those $5 saved. It’s probably not worth it.
For our Hawaii trip we booked directly with Alaska Airlines (one of the few with a direct flight from Seattle). Hawaiian Airlines is another option that we’ve used with good success. Both provide great customer service and got us here on-time.
Next to airfare, lodging was one of the largest costs for our trip. For online travel agents, that’s where the biggest margins are. That’s also why all the online travel agencies try to sell packages that include lodging. There’s opportunities for big savings here.
First off, if you want to save some money, stay away from the big resort areas. They’re just plain overpriced. By staying outside of the normal tourist areas, we saved tons of money. Probably about $200 a night.
As I mentioned previously, hotels are not really the best option for families. The standard travel amenities (a bed and a mini-fridge) found at your mega-hotel chain just don’t cut it anymore.
Families like ours need a kitchen, and a washer & dryer. Why a washer & dryer? Kids get really messy. Rather than carry endless sets of clothes with us, it makes sense to have facilities to clean their clothes and dry towels.
We ended up splitting the cost of a house with family (incidentally, they did pay me back for the lodging expense).
The house is in Waikoloa area (just north of Kona). We booked through HomeAway. Airbnb just didn’t have the kind of properties we were looking for (at a reasonable price), but I’m pretty happy with what we found on HomeAway.
Here’s what it looks like:
Yes, it has a private pool! At a cost of $214/night split two ways, ($107/night) is extremely affordable. Yet, everything seems brand new. The house has 2 separate bedrooms, each with their own private bathrooms.
One of the cool features of the house is the main living area can be opened up (or closed) via a BIG sliding door that extends the length of the living area.
Rental cars are also a very competitive segment, but I’ve noticed you CAN get great deals on rental cars if you shop around. Here again, I don’t recommend the big online-travel agencies. Instead, take a look at alternative travel agencies; like Costco Travel. Normally Costco Travel wants to sell travel packages, but rental cars don’t require a package (and still have great prices). Win!
We went with that snappy white minivan. The total cost added up to $355 after taxes (which are significant on Hawaii). We’re going to split it with other family members. This is nearly $150 cheaper than “traditional” online travel agents. It pays to shop around with rental cars!
Got any great Hawaii money saving tips? Let me know!