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Easiest Ways to Save Money on Your Hawaii Trip

Easiest Ways to Save Money on Your Hawaii Trip
Ariana Arghandewal

If you got in on the amazing Southwest fare to Hawaii, congratulations! You got an amazing deal…on airfare. By now you’ve probably started researching hotels, restaurants, and activities. The thought, “What did I get myself into?” may have crossed your mind. I’m here to tell you it’s not that bad. You don’t have to mortgage your house to afford this vacation and you most certainly don’t have to sacrifice comfort and quality to enjoy it. Here are four ways you can save on your Hawaii getaway:

Save on rental cars

Renting a car is pretty much essential if you’re traveling to Hawaii – unless you don’t plan on leaving the hotel. If you’re with family, you’ll rack up quite a shuttle bill, so it’s best to get a minivan. In my experience, Hotwire has the best deals on rental cars. Once you book a rental car, be sure to track for price drops through AutoSlash. Yes folks, it really works!

If you have some Ultimate Rewards to spare, I recommend checking point rates at the UR travel portal. You can find really good deals and put your points to good use. Another unexpected way that you can save on rental cars in Hawaii? Use your airline miles. You read that right. I once saved over $1,200 on a week-long car rental in Maui by redeeming 12,000 AAdvantage miles plus $90 in taxes. I don’t care how valuable airline miles are, you are hard-pressed to find a flight that gets you 10 cents per mile worth of value. So check out the AAdvantage rental car tool – you may score a deal just like I did.

Book hotels with points

The single biggest way to save money on your Hawaiian getaway is to book your hotel with points. It’s not uncommon to see hotel rates at a half decent hotel in Maui for $400+ per night. Who can relax and enjoy their trip when they’re paying that much for their hotel? Luckily, there are lots of great hotels you can book with points: Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott have tons of hotels you can book for as little as 20,000 points per night. Depending on when you’re traveling, you may still have time to pick up a co-branded hotel credit card in order to cover a few of these nights. Your biggest expense might be hotels and there’s no need to pay an exorbitant amount if you don’t have to.

Shaka Gold Card

The Shaka Gold Card is perhaps the best-kept secret when it comes to saving money in Hawaii. The card costs $30 and is good for up to four people. and gets you 50% off every activity imaginable: Diving, jet skiing, and more. It absolutely pays for itself. For the biggest discount, be sure to check the list of Owner’s Tickets at the beginning of the month. These are the best deals on popular activities. That being said, I bought my Shaka Gold Card during the third week of the month and saw plenty of great deals. Check out the Gold Card before your trip to Hawaii and then thank me after. 🙂

Food on a budget

Food factors about 65% into any travel decision I make. I refuse to travel anywhere I can’t eat well. There are several solutions to save money. For starters, you can book an Airbnb with a kitchen. You’ll likely save on hotels and meals because you can buy cheap snacks and stock up on affordable breakfast and lunch foods. Because really, who needs a $30 breakfast buffet? Prepare these less important meals and splurge on a nice dinner.

If you do end up staying at a hotel, getting elite status via a hotel credit card can help you save a lot of cash. When I visited Maui back in 2012, I got free breakfast for four and lounge access for a week-long stay. Aside from the monetary value of the free food, it was also incredibly convenient. We could grab snacks at the lounge and not worry about driving off-site, hungry, every morning to find a breakfast spot. If you can’t score elite benefits like this before your stay, you can still save money.

Download the Yelp app before your trip, research some affordable restaurant options ahead of time and save them to a “Collection.” Then when you get to the island, you can go into map mode and look at your saved restaurants. The great thing about this isn’t just that you can pre-plan your meals, but it can also save you from overspending. How many times have you walked into a restaurant because you were hungry and it was close, without regard to menu prices? When you plan out our options in advance, you’ll save a lot more. Plus, Yelp often has in-app coupons. All you have to do is register your credit card with the app and the discount.

That’s my take on how you can save some cash on your trip to Hawaii. You already did great scoring an amazing fare – you can keep the momentum going (and treat yourself to something fun) while saving a substantial amount of cash. That being said, I’d love to hear from you: What are some of your tips for saving Money in Hawaii?

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

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1 Comment

  1. diver858

    April 7, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    1. Car is not required on Oahu, very expensive to park. If you want to take a day trip, rent a car near your hotel – lots of options.

    2. Avoid hotels on Maui and the Big Island, I have been booking condos for years on VRBO, rarely pay more than $150 per night for 1 bedroom unit, with sleeper in the living room, fully furnished kitchen. Free parking as well.

    3. https://www.hawaiirevealed.com was the Hawaii bible (one per island) before Yelp and Trip Advisor, still an excellent resource, investment.

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