Thursday, November 3, 2011

Saving big bucks on a Hawaiian vacation

Yes, I'm frugal. Since not working full time and having Tristan in daycare, I have become even more frugal. Hard to imagine some times. I am a bit of a coupon junkie now and I have the talent of smelling a good deal :)

We went to Hawaii for eight days: five in Oahu and three in Kauai. We did a lot of things and we had a blast! The accommodations were a bit disappointing but we didn't have a budget to stay at the Sheraton! Overall, we are pleased with how things went and would totally do it all over again.

The following are some of the ways we saved BIG bucks on our Hawaiian vacation.

Cheap flight:
We decided to go to Hawaii when I spotted a great deal on WestJet. Yes, I monitor a few sites every now and then for deals :P $139 one way directly from Vancouver to Honolulu for October dates. Even though this was Tristan's first paid flight, we only paid around $1000 for all three of us to fly there and back :)

Island hop savings:
If you book a flight from Vancouver to Kauai, you will most likely go through Honolulu and you would pay big bucks for it. There are few direct flights and they only operate seasonal. You may also have to change planes on the way there. $1000 round trip per person would not be unrealistic. We flew to Oahu and then booked a separate flight directly through Hawaiian Airlines to go to Kauai. If you book through Expedia or another third party, it will also cost you more. I booked our tickets 3-4 months in advance, which was also cheaper. It turned out that the airline raised their check-in luggage fee in August 2011 from $10 for the first piece to $17. Since we purchased our tickets before August, we were able to pay just the $10 fee. Lucky! I booked the flight and car together as a package on Hawaiian Airlines and that was cheaper than purchasing them separately. I also made it so that we had the car rental for exactly three days and that we would be at the airport in time for our flight out of Honolulu back to Vancouver so we wouldn't have to go back into town. Just like WestJet, we had all these costs taken care of before our vacation so we didn't have to worry about paying for everything at once :)

Groupon Honolulu:
Knowing that were were heading to Hawaii, I monitored the Groupon site for deals every now and then and were able to snatch four Groupons. One of them was for our hotel stay. Even though the hotel was a bit disappointing, it wasn't such a big deal since we already saved around 49% on our stay. We paid $399 for 5 nights in Waikiki, which included breakfast, Internet, and parking. You have to be a bit careful with Groupon. When I looked on our hotel website, they were also offering a deal so you really only save maybe 25%. Two other Groupons we had saved us $40 on food. The last Groupon we couldn't redeem since the business closed down but Groupon refunded us for that :)

Entertainment coupon book:
Entertainment coupon books are good until November 1st. We traveled in the middle of October. In July, all entertainment books for all cities were just $5, plus $1 for shipping. You can buy Entertainment books for places you are going to visit! We bought the one for Hawaii. 80% of the book were coupons for Oahu. We used the coupon for all our activities on Oahu, which were basically buy 1 get 1 free. We also used a ice cream coupon at the Dole Plantation and one for Senor Frog. We saved at least $247!!! Even if we bought the Hawaii Entertainment book at its regular price of $35, we would have still saved big.

Coupons from free tourist pamphlets and guides:
We checked these out for maps and activities to do. We managed to use a few of them and saved a few bucks. Every little bit counts, right?

Choosing the right activities for under 3 year old:
Besides the flight and car seat rental, we did not pay anything extra for Tristan to come along with us. We bought more food but he didn't eat much anyway. We only considered activities that were free for under 3 year old :)

Knowing where to shop and eat:
We are not new to Hawaii so we sort of knew where to shop. I also did a bit of research and I had a better idea of what was out there. For souvenirs and food, nothing beats Walmart. For instance, at the General Whalers Store, water is $1.49 for 2 liters. The same water is $0.79 at Walmart. A&B Stores are okay, if there is no Walmart near you. Costco may be better but we have no Costco card. Chinatown has the best prices for produce but it was kind of far to walk to.

We love Quicksilver and Roxy but they are sort of expensive. We shopped at Macy's and looked at the clearance sections for these brands and were able to snatch a few things that we liked :) We also shopped at Ross.

For eating out, I did research beforehand and found a bunch of local places that were good and cheap to eat at. One of those places was Rainbow Drive In. Jean-Louis found a place on Flickr called Wailana Coffee House. We bought a kid's lunch with drink included for Tristan for just $2.25. OMG. They were all great finds!

Book from home and buy your activities online:
I called and booked many of our activities from home before we flew. As a result, we didn't have to use the hotel phone at all and we saved a few bucks. For the luau on Kauai, I booked online to save $20. Again, every bit helps!

If you have saving tips for traveling to Hawaii, feel free to enter them in the comments section ;)


harriet glynn said...

Wow. You are a trip planner par extraordinaire! So smart. I'm bookmarking your page. It cost me $600 to go to Toronto by myself! So true about 3 and under. They don't need their own meal or anything really. Once they're there, most things will be free for them. Sounds like you had a great trip.

Related Posts with Thumbnails