Hawaii can be frugal – longtime reader Glenn proves it with his 10-day jaunt for $1,501.61 – including hotel and airfare! Without hotel, he spent $83 per day. Here is how he did it:
I flew with Hawaiian Airlines using all my air miles to book the round trip. According to their web site, the value of each flight was $402, so I saved $804 taxes and government fees. I accumulated my miles using the Hawaiian Visa Air Miles card since 2005. The annual fee was $25, so from 2006 through 2010, it cost me $125 by the time I was able to redeem my miles. I was able to cancel my card before the 2011 annual fee was due. Overall, not bad I would say. I did have to pay $25 for my one checked suitcase each way which I think is a total rip. And I did pay $40 for shuttle service to-and-from my house to LAX and back. And $27.50 for shuttle service to-and-from Honolulu International Airport to my hotel.
I booked my hotels through Hotels.com. My original plan was to use Priceline so I could enter my own price. However, after several failures to get what I wanted, it became clear that I wasn’t going to succeed because there was too much time between my bids and my actual travel date. The site says that you could get up to 60% off, but I think that’ll only happen if you’re leaving last minute. I needed to book something solid, so I checked out the other sites. Ultimately, I chose Hotels.com over the other travel sites because in the fine print they said that they do not charge a cancellation fee as long as it’s prior to 72hrs before the check-in date. The other sites said that there would be a cancellation fee, but didn’t specify how much.
For the first 4-nights, I got the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel in Waikiki for $67.50 per night + $35.04 taxes & fees for a total of $305.04. For the last 5-nights, I got the Ambassador Hotel a couple of streets over for $65 per night + $37.45 taxes & fees for a total of $362.45. Grand total for all 9-nights was $667.49. Would you consider that good, average or a rip off?
I did quite a lot during my trip. I toured Pearl Harbor, saw Sea Life Park, went to Paradise Cove for an authentic luau, two comedy shows, went to the swap meet at Aloha Stadium, went on a 2hr ATV excursion at Kualoa Ranch, went snorkeling at the famed Hanauma Bay, went go-kart racing and saw Battle: Los Angeles on my off day. In all, my island activities cost me $423.07 including three Groupons for a snorkeling catamaran cruise, a city ghost tour, and $20 food value at a local diner. I even purchased the 2011 Hawaii Entertainment Book online for $17.49.. I also did a little shopping which cost me $55.53.
Getting around the island, I was contemplating renting a car. But when I researched their bus system and how efficient it was, I decided that traveling by bus was the way to go. It only cost $25 for an unlimited 4-day pass. Two passes was all I needed to get to all points of interest and all around the island even all the way out to the north side far away from Waikiki. Plus, I learned that all the hotels in the Waikiki area charge their guests a minimum of $20 per night just for the privilege of parking their rental cars over night. What a rip.
Food is a necessary expense no matter where you go. It’s biology. However, it did turn into a big expense for me considering where I went and where I stayed. The Entertainment Book did help me to get a few cheap meals out there, but I definitely paid a lot more for food than if I were at home. I purchased food at KFC, Taco Bell, Taco Del Mar, IHOP, Dennys and a few local businesses. I spent a grand total of $162.53 (including tax, tips and coupons). That’s works out to an average of $16.25 per day.
So with everything all set and done, my grand total for everything including service tips came out to $1,501.61. I had given myself a budget of $2,000 for this trip, so I came in $498.39 under budget. I also came home with 21 bottles of shampoo and 17 bars of soap. I took a ton of digital pics and have included a few to share. To save on money, I made sure to bring extra AAA and AA batteries with me. I also took my own toothpaste, dental floss and sun block. I tried to minimize extra expenses wherever I could. I also made sure to bring my camera battery charger, electric shaver charger, cell phone charger and iPod charger. And I was able to use my prepaid cell phone out there so I didn’t incur additional room charges.
Glenn, I’m amazed at your dedication and planning to save money. Way to go!
Breakdown of Glenn’s expenses on his 10-day Hawaiian vacation:
$125 in annual credit card fees to earn miles for ticket
$50 bag back RT
$40 bus service to and from airport and home
$27.50 shuttle service from airport to hotel
$305.04 hotel first four nights
$362.45 hotel last five nights
$37 snorkeling catamaran cruise
$17 city ghost tour
$10 local diner with value of $20
$17.49 2011 Hawaii Entertainment Book
$359 various activities including touring Pearl Harbor, Sea Life Park, luau at Paradise Cove, two comedy shows, swap meet at Aloha Stadium, 2hr ATV excursion at Kualoa Ranch, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, go-kart racing and saw Battle: Los Angeles.
$55.53 misc. shopping
$50 for two four-day bus passes
$162.53 food at KFC, Taco Bell, Taco Del Mar, IHOP, Dennys and a few local businesses
Note: My math adds up to $1,618.54. It’s possible Glenn did not include the $125 credit card fee as that was not a direct vacation expense.
Do you think you could go to Hawaii for less than $1,501? It would be a challenge!