How to Travel to Hawaii on a Budget


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Looking for ways to save money and travel to Hawaii on a budget? In today’s economy, many people are looking to save wherever they can. Your vacation budget might need to slightly less this year. However, it makes me sad to hear when people say that traveling to Hawaii is not cost-effective or out of reach. In reality, Hawaii can be an affordable vacation and comparable to a trip within the continental United States. If you are looking to save money on travel to Hawaii, read on for some travel tips. Experiencing paradise is possible even on a budget!

How to Travel to Hawaii on a Budget

Travel During “Off” Times

Of course, traveling to destinations during the “off” season can save a bundle. Typically the offseason is spring (late April-early June) or fall (September-mid December). But there are other “off” times that you may not have realized. For instance, avoiding travel during holiday weekends and planning your trip during a less popular time may save you quite a bit of money. Airfare and hotel costs tend to rise notably during holiday weekends.

Don’t Procrastinate

Planning ahead can make the difference between a costly venture and a much cheaper one. While it’s true that you can sometimes find great last-minute deals on airfare and such, chances are you’ll pay a lot more if you have to buy a ticket or book a room right away. If you plan ahead, you can refuse a deal that is too expensive, and you might find that the price will come down since you’re not desperate.

Be Flexible with Dates

Although I suggest planning ahead if you have a specific date or time frame in mind to travel, last-minute deals on airlines and hotels can save you a bundle. The key is to be flexible. Empty seats or vacant rooms bring no revenue, so it’s a win-win situation for both parties. Keep tabs on these by signing up for emails from travel websites or search the web, and you may score a trip to Hawaii on a budget.

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    Use Alternate Airports and Save Money

    Many large cities have two or even three airports. Some are cheaper to fly into and out of than others. In smaller towns, it may pay you to drive a few miles (even a hundred miles) to another city and utilize their airport. This practice can save you hundreds of dollars. The smaller airports are usually more user-friendly and offer cheaper or even free parking. For us, Michigan has a couple of different airports across the state. We always compare costs to see if it’s less expensive to fly out of Grand Rapids or Detroit.

    Use Park ‘N Go

    Park ‘N Go is one of the best-kept travel secrets! We save hundreds of dollars in short-term parking when we use Park ‘N Go. Rather than leave our car parked at the airport, we were able to leave it parked short-term at a local hotel. This service is included in the cost of staying at the hotel at the beginning or end of your trip. For us, we flew out early in the morning, so we stayed at a hotel the evening before and left our car parked for the length of our trip. This is also a perfect option if your plane home arrives late and you’d like to stay at a hotel upon your return. For this option you’d drop your car off at the hotel the beginning of your trip. Park ‘N Go typically includes a free shuttle service to the airport from the hotel, as well. For our latest trip to Maui we met at the Detroit Airport and had two cars carrying four travelers. Rather than leave two cars at the airport for 9 days and costing us between $180-$470 in parking fees depending on the lot, we were able to park for free with our hotel stay. SO WORTH IT!


    Get Travel Deals on Rental Cars with Upgrades

    Don’t be afraid to ask the rental car company for any available upgrades when traveling to Hawaii on a budget. We got upgraded to a Jeep for free in Hawaii because they didn’t have any of the vehicles we originally booked on the lot! We also know of friends who got a free upgrade to a convertible when they visited Maui. Generally, it’s less expensive to rent using the online service rather than just walking in. Also, renting a full week is often cheaper than a daily rate. Don’t forget to check for additional taxes and fees. Before leaving the lot, be sure to make a note of any dents, scratches, stains, or other damages to avoid taking the bill for someone else’s carelessness.

    Car Rental Insurance is Usually Unnecessary

    Before you travel, check to see if your present auto insurance has you covered. If you charge the rental to a credit card, most companies include it automatically. Rental employees get a commission on insurance sold, so beware of double coverage.

    Out-of-the-Way Places

    Avoiding tourist traps can help you save money on vacation. At touristy destinations like Hawaii, costs may be far higher as merchants raise prices on goods and services. You might be surprised to find how inexpensive a bed and breakfast is, for example, or a coastal cottage at a lesser-known beach. We have decided to stay in lesser-known areas in Hawaii, and it has paid off every time. We saw even less expensive options when you aren’t searching for an oceanfront property. If you are willing to walk a couple of blocks to the beach, you can find some great bargains!

    Experience Something Untraditional

    Why not get off the beaten path of the madding crowd and experience something untraditional? There are many islands to explore and numerous ways to do it if you have the wandering spirit of searching and learning. And, most of these excursions are less expensive than the accustomed trip.

    Bed & Breakfasts are delightful places to stay, especially in Hawaii, for a reasonable price plus enjoy a home-cooked breakfast to start each day. Prices will vary, you may have to share a bath, and a deposit will probably be required. However, if you are on a budget, the inconveniences make up for themselves with the money you’ll save. Many people say this is the only way to travel and savor the culture.

    Volunteer and Vacation for Free

    If you like the idea of going somewhere and helping others make a better way of life, this may be for you. There are several options for work exchanges across Hawaii that offer free room and board. Experience paradise in exchange for using your skills and talents for good!

    Trade Your Hotel Keys for RV Keys or Tent Stays

    These housing options are becoming more popular with the younger demographic, especially on Airbnb. You can save by foregoing hotels and preparing your meals in the RV or at the campsite. Experience the quiet amid beautiful settings. Break the hotel habit and seek the road less traveled.

    It’s important to know yourself and your personality when choosing an RV or tent option, though. Hawaii has an abundance of nature, which brings insects, reptiles, feral cats, and other creatures you may not want to deal with. If any of that doesn’t sound enjoyable, another lodging arrangement may be best for you.

    Make and Bring Your Own Food

    Understandably, one of the fun parts about a vacation, is not having to cook. However, eating out costs a lot of money. A good, money-saving compromise is to bring your own food for the plane trip (airport food is EXPENSIVE!), and make some of your meals on-site and go out for others.

    Making up a grocery list ahead is helpful; that way, you’re not going to the store and buying on impulse. If you make a grocery list according to the meals you’ll be cooking, that will help save money and allow you to plan how much you’ll be spending on eating out.

    Package Deals for a Vacation to Hawaii on a Budget

    Looking for a deal where you can have everything paid for in one price bundle may save you a lot! Bundling plane, car, and the hotel is one of the best pieces of advice for anyone looking to travel to Hawaii on a budget. I love bundling our trips through websites like Expedia and Priceline.

    In all of our travels to Hawaii so far, bundling plane, hotel, and the car was less expensive than reserving it all separately. Some of these packages even include shuttle service from the airport to the place where you’re staying. However, when searching for a good travel deal, make sure to look and see if the price includes taxes and all applicable fees. If not, you may be tacking an additional hundred dollars onto your price. Hotels usually charge resort fees daily, so this is one area to compare across packages. Another is the price to check luggage with different airlines. Do a little research and see if a package deal might work best for you.

    The travel industry is complex and full of insider secrets, but traveling to Hawaii on a budget is possible. Vacation savings for Hawaii go to the educated and the persistent, so YAY for you making it through this article! If you implement the above travel tips as we do, you’ll find traveling to Hawaii is actually within reach.

    Have you used any of the travel tips above, or do you have any others you love? We’d love for you to share with us!

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