Hawaii is one of those iconic destinations that most families want to visit at some point in their travels. The beaches, the volcanoes, the scenery, the people, and the climate. They all call out to you from afar and it’s not long before plans start to form in your mind. But the reality of the cost of a trip to Hawaii can stop your planning right in its tracks. Particularly if you are travelling long term on a budget and as soon as you start googling Hawaii you get nothing but expensive all-inclusive-holiday links to 5 star resorts.
The Hawaiian Islands can certainly be costly for a family, but with the right strategies and proper planning, you can make it work well with your budget. Sure you may need to redefine the word 'budget'. Doing Hawaii on a budget is not the same as visiting Thailand on a budget. But it doesn't have to be package deals and 5 star resorts. From flights to accommodations to food and fun, there are plenty of ways that your family can enjoy their time on the islands without emptying your pockets.
Here are some of the top ways that you can save money on your Hawaiian adventure and get the best possible experience for the cost.
Fly for Less
The time of year that you fly, as well as the day of the week, can help you find cheap air fares to Hawaii or even cheap flight and accommodation packages. Most major US airlines offers reduced flights if you are traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Flying during the off-season can help to save you money on flights too, typically during the months of February, May, September and October. It probably goes without saying but avoid school holidays if you want to avoid paying top dollar.
If Hawaii is a stopover on your route between the USA and Australia/NZ or Asia, don't pay for separate flights. Find an airline that allows you to stop over for free in Hawaii. Don't forget to check the budget airlines as well. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia fly to Hawaii so if you are making your way from the USA to Australia or NZ, don't forget to compare their prices with full fee airlines.
Honolulu is one of the busiest vacation cities in Hawaii, so it’s not hard to find low-cost flights to Honolulu that will fit with your budget. From the Honolulu International Airport, you can even take a flight to any of the other islands aboard Hawaiian Airlines.
Check All Accommodation Options
Depending on the time of year you travel, you can find lower nightly rates for hotel rooms on the Hawaiian Islands.
Staying at a resort can cost you a lot more per night, particularly in high season. Opt for smaller hotels instead and family run businesses rather than large global chains.
When you are looking at hotel prices, it's well worth checking with hotel websites directly as well as aggregator websites that offer discount fees and even hostel booking sites. Many of the popular tourist destinations in Hawaii have great hostels with private rooms perfectly suited to families. A lot of the smaller, budget family hotels list on hostel booking sites as well so hostel booking sites can be the best way to find cheap accommodation.
You can also use websites like Flipkey, VRBO and AirBNB to find apartments and homes that are available to rent on a nightly, weekly, or monthly basis, which can save you a lot of money. Prices for budget family accommodation start from as little as $30 a night. Craigslist also has listings of vacation rentals and apartments to sublet. Couchsurfing is another great option to reduce your accommodation costs and meet locals.
Buy the Hawaii Entertainment Book
For just $35, you could save hundreds of dollars on food, accommodations and entertainment during your trip to Hawaii. The Entertainment coupon book offers tons of coupons on restaurants, hotels, car rental, fishing trips, ice cream, and more. The Entertainment book can be purchased online. It's well worth keeping an eye on the website as they will have specials from time to time selling the Entertainment book for as little as $10-15.
You Do the Cooking
One of the biggest expenses for a traveling family is food, particularly when you are exploring a popular tourist destination like Hawaii. Save money and choose to buy food that you can eat at your hotel or apartment.
If possible book accommodation that allows self catering, or at least a fridge. Even if you don’t have a full kitchen, having a fridge means you can keep ready-to-eat ites like cereal and sandwich fixings so you can at least cut back on the number of times you are eating out.
Eat Like a Local
If you really want to have a meal out, ask the locals where they dine. You can also buy lunch or dinner from a food truck. They are much cheaper than a sit-down restaurant and the quality of the fresh prepared meals is excellent, not to mention the variety of offerings on the menu. If the kids need a snack during the day, don't call into an overpriced mini-market. Look for a fresh fruit stand -it's healthy and cheaper too!
Shop for foods like produce at a farmers markets, like the popular Hilo Farmers Markets. Just check the newspaper for when and where they will be set up. Also, shopping at stores like Costco will save you a lot of money since the cost at smaller grocery stores can be much higher.
Find Low-Cost Entertainment
There are lots of things to do when you are visiting islands with such stunning natural beauty that doesn't cost anything.
Beaches, of course, always hold the attention of the kids and they cost you nothing to go! Hawaii also has playgrounds galore. Better yet - find a playground at the beach! Your kids will be occupied for hours and declare it the best day ever without it costing you anything.
Take a hike in one of the national parks and have a picnic lunch by a waterfall. Visit one of the many lookouts and enjoy spectacular views while the kids explore. Visit Pearl Harbour or a museum, head to a local market or visit Hawaii Volcano National Park on one of their free visitor days. In summer you'll even find free cinema movies on some of the most popular tourist beaches.
Also, the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo offers free admission into its 12-acre zoo. You can see more than 80 species of animal, including a white Bengal tiger and the endangered Nene.
Many of the local shopping centers will hold special events, such as lei making and hula lessons. Scour the local newspapers for upcoming events that your family can attend in the area.
Bring Your Own Essentials
When you are packing, be sure to throw in your sunscreen, swim suits, reusable water bottles and snorkel gear, since the prices of these items can cost more on the islands. Having your own water bottles will help save you from paying the $3 on average for a bottle of water when you are out exploring the area.
If you do need to purchase supplies like sunscreen and beach toys, avoid the souvenir shops. You can find the same types of items at larger discount retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco for a lot less.
With the right planning, you can easily find a way to make a Hawaiian adventure fit into your budget while still enjoying your time on the islands.