Hawaii Stopover Budget and Tips.

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We’re not particularly adventurous travelers, in that at least half the time we travel we prefer to revisit our favorite places rather than go to new places. This past month I was back in my second favorite place on earth, Hawaii, for 3 days on a stopover between the US and New Zealand. We’ve spent so much time in Hawaii now, we’ve got money saving down to a fine art. Here’s our M.O. for a stopover.

Where to stay.

I booked a private room at Hostelling International Waikiki, at the member rate of $64 a night. Dorms are $28 a night.

Total for 3 nights: $192

Money saving tips:
– If you’re arriving late, stay in a dorm for the first night, and then switch to a private the next day.
– If you buy a membership, look out for the free night stay coupon in the booklet that comes with it. You can use it at another hotel with high rates e.g., the NYC Hosteling International, but not the one you buy the membership pack at.

Watch for:
The beds in the private rooms are extremely small, which is ok for us as two females but wouldn’t be for a guy/girl couple in most cases. You can also get a private room with a bunk bed as an alternate option for couples on a budget.

How to get around.

Without luggage: Just get the bus to/from the airport. The No. 19 bus will take you to the far end of Waikiki beach and it only costs US$2.50 (all bus rides cost$2.50 and you need the correct change). Bus No.20 goes to Waikiki too. You can have one bag/backpack as long as you can sit it on your lap so it isn’t a barrier to other passengers. To get ideas of what and what not to pack, check out this printable packing list for Hawaii that I’ve put together. You can easily walk between Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach, and Ala Moana Beach is incredibly nice. If you want to explore the island, it’s worth getting a car for a day.

You can get the bus around the whole island. However if you want to explore, get a car. If we’re staying in Hawaii longer than a couple of days we only get a car for a day or two, and go carless the rest of the time.

With luggage: You can get a shuttle to/from the airport for around $16 a person each way, or a cab is around $40.

On this occasion I hired a car for my whole stay since the car hire for 3 days was only $75. This saved me $30 in shuttle costs, so the real cost was only $40 plus $10 for parking.

I like this site for car rental bargains and it’s what I used this trip.

Money saving tips:

– A benefit of the hostel is that parking is $5. You can park free along Ala Wai Canal but it’s tough to find a spot. Otherwise, parking charges in Waikiki will be $25 a day and up.

– If you’re from outside the US, book on foreign websites that offer a package that includes full insurance with the car, rather than booking on US websites. Thrifty Worldwide is one option I’ve used numerous times. It works out much cheaper than buying the insurance separately. You’ll see the lowest rates on US websites but people from the US usually have insurance via credit cards and their home auto policy, so it’s generally only international tourists paying the steep add on rates for insurance.

Eating and Drinking.

I ate at Whole Foods at Kahala Mall once, and the rest of the time at Down to Earth on King Street. It’s about a 35 minute walk from Waikiki. You can take the bus from Waikiki but it requires a change, so I just walk most of the time. They have parking if you’re driving. Down to Earth has an amazing vegetarian hot food bar and lots of awesome vegan stuff like vegan cheesecake. I need my Coke to get through the day but Kathryn saves money by preparing her own coffee in the hostel kitchen and carrying it in her day bag in her sealed insulated travel coffee mug. The coffee stays hot for hours and never spills, and we save money on expensive coffee from cafes.

I spent around $15-20 a day eating all my meals there.

I bought a few cans of diet coke from the ABC stores for 99c each.

Total for 3 days: approx $55 per person.


I didn’t spend anything else!

Money saving tip: There is a Ross Dress for Less right in the middle of Waikiki if you want to shop on the cheap.

Total cost for 3 days.

Accommodation: $193.
Car hire: $75
Parking: $10 (the first night I parked on the street as the hostel parking was full)
Gas: $7
Food: $55

= $340 for one person, $395 for two people.

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