By Cami Sauder
Are you one of the many people who will be flying Southwest Airlines to Hawaii soon? Hooray for you!
Many of you will be saving money by using your Southwest Companion Pass or paying with Southwest points to get there, but you probably want to save money in other areas, too. Because, in case you haven’t heard, Hawaii can be an expensive place to visit 🙂 even if you fly there free!
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By planning ahead and using some of these techniques, you can save a bundle and make your Hawaii trip absolutely affordable. Of course, Hawaii’s year-round sunshine and warmth is always FREE!
10 Hacks to Save BIG Money in Hawaii
1. Visit During the Low Season
When planning your trip, you’ll need to consider WHEN you’ll go. In Hawaii, the late spring and fall are considered the low season (there’s never an “off” season in Hawaii ;-)). But because kids are still in school, this can be a great time to visit when the islands are not quite as full of tourists.
Visiting during the summer months or over the holidays will find you traveling at the same time as many other tourists seeking fun in the sun. That means prices are likely to be more expensive, as well.
2. Stay in a Vacation Rental or Hostel
Booking a HomeAway (this is an affiliate link) or VRBO vacation rental, especially with another family or couple, can be a great way to save. Read Lyn’s tips on what to know before booking a HomeAway.
The ability to cook your own meals will slash your vacation budget dollars, and you’ll also have more room to spread out, as well as more privacy. That can be great for families, so everyone can have their own space, or for multiple couples traveling together.
My husband and I recently met up with friends at a beautiful log cabin with a view of the Smoky Mountains that had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pool table and a hot tub. We were able to split the cost between friends and cook our own meals to live in luxury for a few days while saving money at the same time. We loved it!
If you still want to share accommodations but having more space and more privacy aren’t as important to you, consider a hostel. The average price for a night in a hostel ranges from $37-$57, according to Hostel World. These days, some even have private rooms with baths and include breakfast!
3. Choose a Hotel With Free Breakfast
Look for a hotel that will provide a substantial breakfast for your group, which is included as part of the nightly rate. Have each member of your party eat a filling breakfast every morning before leaving for the day’s activities to stay full as long as possible :).
4. Bring Food From Home
Because Southwest Airlines allows everyone in your group to bring two checked bags free, consider packing food from home, especially snacks and breakfast items. Even though you could buy these items in a store in Hawaii, they will be much cheaper at home!
There are some restrictions on what you can and can’t bring to and take from Hawaii, so be sure to read those details on Southwest’s Hawaii FAQ page.
5. Shop Costco and Local Farmer’s Markets
You’ll be happy to know that Costco is alive and well in Hawaii! Don’t forget to take your card with you to stock up.
Then be sure to shop at the local farmer’s markets for seasonal produce and unique items. You may discover some new foods you’ve never even heard of before that become new favorites and this is a great way to have a more localized, and less touristy, experience!
6. Buy From Food Trucks
Food trucks seem to be everywhere these days, including throughout the Hawaiian Islands, so be sure to try some of their deliciousness. Whether it’s fish tacos, Poke bowls or shave ice, you can be sure to save money and get local, authentic food that’s not an outrageous price.
7. Score a Cheap Rental Car
If you’re going to be exploring a large area of the island of your choosing, you’ll most likely need a rental car. The cheapest rates I’ve found for US rentals is Costco.
Pair that with AutoSlash, which notifies you when the price drops even after you made your reservation, so you can cancel and get the better rate.
8. Stay in Walkable Waikiki
If you plan on staying in the heart of the action on Waikiki, you might not even need a car. You can take the bus or an Uber to your hotel. Additionally, for only $5.50 a day, you can get to other attractions via bus.
Coupons and Discounts
9. Use Coupons and Groupons
These, as well as Groupon, contain discounts and coupons for every island on everything from food to tours to scavenger hunts. Be sure to check Groupon before you leave to see if there are any deals you want to take advantage of while visiting.
10. Do FREE Stuff!
While all the above ideas give you ways to save money on your Hawaiian vacation, nothing is better than something that is really and truly FREE!
Here are some ideas of free Hawaii activities:
- Head to a local music festival
- Attend a cultural event at the Royal Hawaiian Center
- Ooh and aah at the fireworks show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village
- Watch the sun set on the beach with your significant other
- See the Waikiki Hula Show at Kuhio Beach
What money-saving or completely free tips do you have to share?
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