I can picture it now: me lying on the beach watching my four children build sand castles and frolic in the Hawaiian surf. What I can’t picture is how I’m going to pay for this little slice of heaven! Next to “expensive” in the dictionary are the words “Hawaiian Family Vacation.” Gulp. But where there’s a will, there’s a way and I’m sharing five ways to save money when you travel to Hawaii today.
This is probably not a surprise to anyone, but Hawaii is on my travel bucket list. The surprise might be that it hasn’t always been. Mostly the idea of a long flight with four young children kept it off my radar. But I’ve realized that as my children get older, taking them on a 7+ hour flight might not be all that crazy to do. A trip to Hawaii recently moved up the list.
Why Hawaii? It calls to me in my dreams; I want to watch the sun rise and set over the ocean and to hike around volcanos and whale watch. I need to bury my feet in the sand on the beach while sipping a frosty umbrella-topped drink. But I must find a forgiving budget to make it all happen.
Save Money When You Travel to Hawaii
I. Want. To. Go.
So what’s holding me back? Cash, moola, bills, bones, Benjamins, coin, loot. You know: money.
While I long to spend time in this tropical paradise, I don’t long to pay for this trip. This is one of those cases where having a larger family can be a bit of a problem. Costs can add up quickly when you are looking at transportation and accommodations for six! But Hawaii on a budget can be done.
Getting there, staying there, food, transportation on the islands and family-friendly experiences all need to be taken into account. Here are five ways to save money when you travel to Hawaii
Fly There On Points
Getting there may be half the fun, but it would also be half the cost of the entire trip. Unfortunately loading my crew into a car for an epic road trip just won’t happen this go round! Flights to Hawaii are generally not cheap.
One way to lower the transportation costs is to use airline points. You can earn these by researching a credit card that allows you to responsibly earn points that can be cashed in for airline tickets.
One example I found is through the British Airways points program, Avios, which can be redeemed for flights on partner airlines.
Booking an American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flight through British Airways can be a significant savings option. Flights from west coast cities can be as low as 7,500 Avios!
That’s not a bad deal at all if you are looking for a travel card anyway.
Book a Condo
While there are many hotel and resort options on the islands, staying at a resort residence is another cost saving option, especially when you are looking at traveling with a larger group. Vacatia offers homes on the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu.
We like to have some room to spread out with some comforts of home like a washer and dryer. And I love having a full fridge for all those Mommy-beverages I will consume while on vacation. Condos offer the chance for all of us to stay in one location, with nightly rates equal to or less than the cost of a hotel. Plus having a separate room for the kids can be a lifesaver!
Finding the floorplans online makes assigning sleeping locations in advance an easy process. My kids appreciate the “at home” feel of a condo and are eager to help plan where we should stay.
Pick Up Groceries
One of the perks of staying at a condo is an easy one to love: the full kitchen we’d have access to.
Meals at restaurants for our family eat up a huge chunk of the budget. If we can save money by eating at the condo, that leaves more funds for exploring the islands. Bonus: we’d be able to pack lunches to take with us on our explorations!
One tip I’ve heard over and over again is to eat like the locals. Luxe Traveling Mom Dana says she loves cooking in her own kitchen while on vacation in Hawaii. This means shopping for fruit at the farmer’s markets and hitting the grocery stores for supplies.
Active TravelingMom Kate says some vacation residences offer their guests resident grocery discount cards. If yours doesn’t, you can head to the customer service desk of the local grocery store and ask if they offer free programs. You can see a significant reduction in your higher than mainland grocery bill by signing up for one of these programs, which usually takes just a few minutes.
I’ll also be sure to pack in plenty of necessities like bug spray, sunscreen, and baby supplies. It might take an extra suitcase, but filling it up with supplies for a week would offset any luggage charges we might incur. I learned this tip from Geek TravelingMom Jana. She advises that shopping for them on the islands is a sure budget killer so plan ahead.
Transportation Savings On the Islands
Transportation on the island can be expensive as well. No matter which island we land on, I see us needing a vehicle to see all the sights. I want to do it ALL.
Frequent Flyer TravelingMom Leslie recommends the discount car rental company Aloha Rents. They get discounted cars from the national car rental agencies without the additional driver’s fees and often beats the discounts offered by AAA or Costco.
I’ll also bring my daughter’s car seat with me, or possibly buy a booster when we arrive. Sarah, the Solo TravelingMom, says renting them is possible, but at $15+ a day, whoa Nelly, that is a quick way to add on to the overall vacation price!
I’m also interested in island hopping. While I am looking at booking in Maui for our first trip, I know I want to make a trip to Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor and North Shore.
According to Beat of Hawaii, the best way to keep costs low is to book those inter-island flights early if possible and be flexible on day and time of travel.
Hawaiian Airlines also offers baggage fee discounts to HawaiinMiles members, so it would probably be worth joining this free program to save a little money.
Free or Low-Cost Experiences In Hawaii
Nothing gets a TravelingMom’s heart racing with joy like seeing the word FREE in their travel plans. The best experiences can often come from living in the moment and taking advantage of the beauty around you. I mean, it’s Hawaii! You can’t go wrong with just walking around your area and soaking in the lush surroundings or enjoying the gorgeous beaches.
When it came to finding low-cost or free experience, Travel Hack TravelingMom Dia had some suggestions for the Big Island. She recommends hunting for Petroglyphs, or native Hawaiian rock carvings, at the Fairmont Orchid.
These rocks are all over the island, but easily accessible for children of all ages at the Puako Reserve location.
Snorkeling is another low-cost option if you’re staying near the beach. It’s especially budget friendly if you skip the daily rental plans and purchase the gear you’ll need at Walmart or bring it with you on the plane.
Groupon is an excellent resource for discounted experiences as well. I just checked and found a discount Groupon for that Pearl Harbor tour I’m planning: save 53% by purchasing online. DONE!
This is one bucket list location I can’t wait to cross off.