How Much We Really Spent in Hawaii

I am all about saving money when traveling. I wanna see as much as I can for as little as possible, so I can see more stuff on this trip and the next! My son said he wanted to see lava and try a coconut, so we jetted to the Big Island of Hawaii for a 2.5 day trip. Here’s a breakdown of our expenses

Flights, $0.00
I work for a commercial aviation ground handler, whose biggest work perk is flight benefits. We fly standby for little-to-no-cost, which means we only get a seat if there is an empty seat on the plane. Seats are never guaranteed, and sometimes they can get revoked at the last second when a paid passenger arrives late. So we essentially pay for flights with our sanity and patience. (I can share more horror stories in a future post).

Accommodations, $137.00
I use HipCamp and AirBNB when I’m looking for cheap accommodations that have a full or partial kitchen. We scored this AirBNB listing for $40.00/night! The room was large, comfortable, and had all the amenities we needed. Bonus points that the host was a born and raised local, so we also felt good about supporting his family. The cottage was in between two homes on the property, and we never heard anyone else for the duration of our trip. The cottage itself is located about 15 minutes south of Hilo, which was a perfect location for us to see kid-friendly attractions and Volcano National Park.

Rental Car, $248.00
Normally, I would never spend this much on a rental car. But our pick up and drop off locations were in two different places, which made the rental car cost 2.5x what it would’ve been had we picked up and returned to the same location. I decided to eat the extra fees this time because of the flight schedule and seat availability, the drive between the two locations was about two hours, and this actually gave us an extra half-day on Hawaii. So, in the end, it was worth it to pay extra for the convenience (thankfully I picked up extra shifts at work anticipating this cost!).

In other news, we rented with Budget and I had reserved a “Large Sedan”. The woman who assisted us in the pickup process was really kind and upgraded us to an SUV for no charge, a 2022 Buick Enclave. If you don’t already know, the car I drive at home is old enough to be a legal adult, so these fancy cars are always a treat. I felt extra justified in paying $248 to have such a luxurious vehicle for the weekend.

Gas, $60.00
We drove a few hundred miles and wanted to return the rental car with a full tank to avoid extra service fees and overpriced fuel gauging. Gas was about $5.29 a gallon when we visited.

Food, $200.00
This is a combination of airport splurges, grocery store snacks, sandwiches, treats like local popsicles, and eating out. Our most expensive meal was $60 at a full-service restaurant.

Attractions, $66.00
Hilo Zoo, free, donations accepted; we donated $30
Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden, kids under 6 free, adults $20
Volcano National Park, free with annual pass
Akaka Falls State Park, $16.00

TOTAL: $711.00

Truthfully, that was more than I wanted to spend. I really wanted to keep it closer to $500 for 2.5 days, which would’ve been possible had we done the same location for pick up/drop off for the rental car (would have shaved off $150 right there for an extra $20 worth of gas). I also bought most of the groceries from convenience stores and pharmacies we passed en route, which traditionally have marked-up food prices. Those local popsicles we ate? Yeah, those were $6.50 EACH! So there are certainly ways we could’ve saved money, but knowing I had the wiggle room from working extra hours gave me peace of mind to splurge a little for the sake of convenience. And it was worth it!

How do you save money when traveling? Drop your favorite money-saving ideas in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “How Much We Really Spent in Hawaii

  1. If it’s a road trip, we pack a cooler and eat at rest stops to save time & money. The kids can run around and get some energy out as well.

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