The thought of visiting Hawaii is alluring for many, but often considered too expensive. Many people think of Hawaii as the vacation spot for those with more money than they know what to do with. However, there are thousands of tourists who travel to Hawaii every year on a strict budget. How do they do it? Here are a few tips.
1. Travel During Off Times
There are two times a year when Hawaii sees fewer travelers than normal. Traveling between mid-April to early June promises to give you warm weather with lower airfare and lodging rates. September through early December, however, sees the fewest visitors to the islands, and you will most likely find the best rates in October or November. Planning your trip during these times could easily save you hundreds of dollars.
2. Don’t Stay at a Hotel
It is a common tradition: go to Hawaii, stay in some fancy resort. Even if you can’t afford a resort, a hotel can easily run $200 – $300 per night. Instead, look for options of sites like Airbnb. You can find adorable cottages right on or near the beach for as little as $75 per night! Bonus: you won’t have all those neighbors to worry about.
One thing to consider, however, is that not all places on the islands have air conditioning. While the larger resorts and hotels are almost guaranteed this, many of the locals don’t have much of a need for it. If you feel you will be uncomfortable without AC, be sure to note if it is listed as an amenity on the listing before booking a condo or other option on sites like Airbnb.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could even camp on one of the many beaches which offer it. The nights never get too cold in Hawaii, and you can spend each night looking at the stars and listening to the waves.
3. Live Like a Local
When tourists come to Hawaii, they will most likely be going on guided tours and cruises, ziplining, or taking helicopter tours around the island(s). The locals, however, find their entertainment at the beach, at farmer’s markets, fishing off the beach, and even at barbecues. If you want to experience the real Hawaii, plan to live like a local for most of your trip. Remember, visiting the beach is always free, and it offers more than just swimming and tanning. Many places offer snorkeling gear, body boards, paddle boards, and more for rent that are fairly inexpensive.
Most tourist-type activities cost $100 or more per person, so if you want to shave off as much as possible on your vacation budget, plan to only do one or two activities like that, and then spend the rest of the time exploring and experiencing the island on your own.
If you are following on from tip #2, then you will probably be staying somewhere with cooking facilities. Cook at least half of the meals you eat, and you will save oodles on your food budget. Dining out in Hawaii can get a bit pricey, and can easily blow up and budget if you do it morning, noon, and night!
4. Plan Ahead
Nothing will save you more than planning ahead. When you book your trip and reserve lodging, also look into the options available for activities, shopping, and dining. Plan an itinerary of what you will be doing and where you will be eating on each day of your trip – and don’t forget to include free activities and grocery shopping. This way, you can plan out a few splurges for your vacation and know that you won’t be breaking the bank.
5. Don’t Take Your Kids
If you have kids, it may seem odd to plan a vacation without them. However, the cost of childcare will end up being far cheaper than taking them with you – especially if a family member can take care of them for free or really cheap!
Kids not only mean more airline tickets to buy and mouths to feed on vacation, they also tend want to do and buy far more things. It can be really easy to go far over budget once you get into the vacation mindset and give into everyone’s desires. Instead, plan a camping trip with the kids and just get them a gift from Hawaii while you’re there.
6. Look for Package Deals
Every once in awhile, you may be able to find package vacation deals that are cheaper than booking everything separately – even if they include a hotel. The best time to look for package deals is during the off season for Hawaii travel, as many places are more willing to offer discounts during these times. Bonus: you will not have as much of a crowd to deal with during your stay! Just be sure that you look up the weather during the off season and that any of the activities you want to do will be available during that time.
7. Use Coupons
While walking, hiking, and beaches are free, you may still want to do a few activities that cost money. Don’t be resigned to pay full price for these things! Once you leave the plane in Hawaii, look for the racks of visitor brochures and magazines. These will have many coupons you can use, and it’s rare to find an activity on your list that doesn’t have a coupon. There are also lots of coupons for restaurants, cafes, diners, and even shops, so you can save everywhere you go!
Be sure to check for expiration dates. Some airports may have outdated visitor magazines. While many of the coupons you find will have no expiration date at all, it would be a bummer to expect to use one and end up having to pay full price.
The average week-long Hawaii vacation can easily be $1,000 – $2,00 per person, but with these tips you can save as much as 50%. Imagine being able to visit the beautiful islands for a fraction of the cost, and be able to experience them as the locals do!