WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Reader request: Frugal tips for trip to Hawaii

Posted May 2, 2012


One of our fellow blog readers has an opportunity to go to Hawaii for the wedding of a friend. She is looking to make it as frugal a trip as possible. Please share your suggestions to help her save money in Hawaii and have a great time! I have never been to Hawaii but have heard that everything is very expensive. Here is her question:

"My sister presented a potential trip to Hawaii for a wedding of a friend of ours. I would like to make that happen. The wedding is July 7th. We were thinking of flying out June 30th and flying back July 7th. Do you have any suggestions for making this trip cheaper? I've read about the entertainment book for Hawaii. Just wondering how valuable that book would be since we will only be there one week.  Any suggestions you have for making this trip as cheap as possible would be greatly appreciated."

I read recently that using an agent for booking travel to some destinations is less expensive with the right package deal, than trying to book yourself. If you have a recommendation for a travel agent, please share that information, as well.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer her!


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  • lisav78 May 3, 2012

    My Hawaii expereince: 1)Find out where the cheap buffets are.
    2)Find out where the happy hour specials are 3)Make sure your room has a fridge: Buy things at local market to make sandwiches. When you eat out and have leftovers, take them back to your fridge to eat the next day. 4)Dont eat fancy. They have McDonalds-its just a little more than we pay here.

  • alwaysab May 3, 2012

    Request a vistor's guide to Hawaii. They will send this to you at no cost and then you can see the things to do and places to stay. They will probably send you hotel/rental homes in the area as well that may have specials. Just do your research. I have been doing mine for that same week to various places and they send out visitor guides that include places to stay and some popular places to eat or visit in separate pamplets. Hope this helps and you have a great trip.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper May 2, 2012

    Great advice everyone! I'm sure she will find it to be helpful! Wish it was me going!

  • kimc2854 May 2, 2012

    My husband I went 10 years ago. He won a trip through his company for sales. Air, hotel, and most food was included in the trip. Let me just say, it was the most expensive "free" trip I have ever been on. Do your best to find deals, but most of all enjoy it. It might just be a once in a lifetime trip. It was for us. It's beautiful but the plane ride is way too long for us to want to go back.

  • skaraseth4 May 2, 2012

    My husband and I are going to Oahu this month. I would recommend VRBO for a condo versus a hotel. It is definetely cheaper. We booked our airfare through Priceline doing the name your own price. The cheapest I could get was $825 a person but we only have one stop. Its a good way to save some money if you don't mind when you leave or arrive. Also, order airfare at the beginning of a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually cheaper). We also did Priceline's name your own price for our rental car and got a standard car for $20 a day from Budget. You could get a compact car for $10-15 (maybe cheaper) dollars a day doing name your own price. And if you use you get cash back with most of the travel sites (at least priceline). There is also public transportation on Oahu that is really cheap if you don't want to rent a car. Check out And sign up for Groupon for Honolulu. We already have a hike and surfing lessons booked at half off.

  • beachblues1 May 2, 2012

    I talked to a guy last week who goes there frequently. He said to look into some of the trips sponsored by AAA. They have airfare and condo rental combos that are a steal deal. He does this the week before his timeshare and gets two weeks there at a great deal.

  • lec02572 May 2, 2012

    Having been to Hawaii numerous times. Buy the Entertainment Book for Hawaii. It will save you so much money from motel, rental car, meals, entertainment, water sports, etc. The book is really worth the small cost especially on Oahu. If you are going to a luau Paradice Cove is awesome use the coupon in the book will save way more than the book cost. There are also coupon books almost everywhere there, but the entertainment book is the best.

  • sfivers May 2, 2012

    Which city and island are you planning to spend your time at? Are you going to more than one island? or spending the entire stay at one location? If you like, I could find out if one of my condo's is available to rent to you between June 30 through July 7. How many bedrooms are you looking for. (No guarantees, but would be happy to check availability for you!) I've been to Hawaii 3 times and love it! Each island is so different. If you can manage to get away from work, I would suggest making it a two week trip and try to see at least 2 islands (one week on each island lets you explore what's unique about each island). Because of the time-zone difference, your body might need a day or two to adjust. (i.e. If you go to bed at 10 pm in Hawaii, it's like going to bed at 4 AM on the east coast!!!) Hope you can make the trip; you'll love it!

  • sfivers May 2, 2012

    If you are flying from the east coast, you'll want to calculate air fare two ways: A) fly directly from east coast to Hawaii (via whatever connections are available) or B) calculate what it would cost to book to separate flights (1) from east coast to a city on the west coast and then (2) from a west coast city (i.e. LA, San Francisco, Seattle) to Hawaii. Because so many west coast folks "hop" over to Hawaii for short trips, there are often highly discounted airfares from west coast cities to Hawaii. IF you can get a decent airfare from the east to west coast, it might be cheaper to make these 2 separate flights. Also, if flying from the east coast, would highly recommend staying overnight on the west coast and flying to Hawaii the next day. Flying straight through from NC to Hawaii is rough and you'll arrive exhausted and need at least a day to recover. But if you stay overnight in LA (or any other west coast city), you'll arrive rested and ready to sightsee.

  • sunandsea May 2, 2012

    I highly recommend (vacation rental by owner). I have found renting a condo or even a house, with other people, is less expensive than a resort or hotel room.