For decades, Hawai‘i travel
agents, resorts, and even student travel agencies have been
repeating one common theme to would-be travelers: “You
have to reach far into your pocketbook if you want to travel
around Hawai‘i. That’s just how it is—it’s
This notion allows a kind of collective acceptance of the high
lodging rates and convinces most travelers to not even consider
quality budget options—because they are led to believe
there are none. Budget-oriented travelers like backpackers and
students often skip Hawai‘i altogether in their around-the-world
or Pacific island travel —due to these common misconceptions.
Student already in Hawai‘i are discouraged from interisland
travel and miss out on great opportunities to island hop due
to budget constraints.
So how can a student have an inexpensive Hawai‘i vacation?
Or afford to go inter-island more often?
Here’s the basic do’s and don’ts from www.gladtravel.com:
1. Don’t buy a package deal.
These deals are designed to look cheap but when you consider
that they are just about always PER PERSON, it usually adds up
to paying double what you have to for lodging if you are a couple
or even more than that if you are a larger group. For single
travelers, they may make a little more sense.
2. Do try to travel with a group.
Traveling with a group means costs can be split and reduced for
all. A car rental can go from $30/day for one person to $7.50/day
if there are four to share the cost. There are tons of private
vacation and house rentals for under $99/night that allow four
or more people.
3. Do stay away from resorts.
If you want to only lie on the beach in front of a resort for
your vacation, there are many cheaper locations to do this than
in Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i is somewhat unique in its abundance
of cute, quality vacation rentals – so take advantage of
this opportunity for adventure and save your wallet in the process.
Not only are room prices expensive at resorts but the whole idea
is designed to also get you to pay a premium for the drinks at
the resort, the food at the resort, the tours the resort offers,
4. Do consider paying a little more for accommodation that you
can cook in.
Eating and drinking out in Hawai‘i will drain your budget
before you know it. Even the cheapest and unhealthiest of food
options—eating 3 meals at fast food establishments—can
run a couple almost $60 per day. Making one of those meals a
sit down in a middle-priced restaurant will easily double that
5. Do look for happy hours.
If you must go out to eat or drink (nothing wrong with that—but
be aware this is when most students spend unplanned on money
in Hawai‘i), find the happy hours. Many bars and restaurants
offer daily or weekly happy hour specials on food and drinks.
6. Do research your trip yourself.
Be your own travel agent. If you can use a computer at all, you’ll
be able to do the majority of the research online at your convenience.
Budget accommodations generally can’t afford to pay travel
agent commissions and do not heavily advertise. Thus, travel
agents rarely have budget places in their offerings (plus they
get more commission selling you a higher priced place anyway).
7. Do buy a good guidebook.
There are several options to consider here. If you are spending
just a few days on different islands you may want to just invest
in one general Hawai‘i guide. You could then print out
free information from the Internet to supplement this book. But
if you are staying on one island for four or more days, it’s
probably worth the price to buy an island-specific guide that
will provide more in-depth information and tips.
8. Don’t pay a tour company to take you on a tour
of something you can get to on your own for free.
Most tourist destinations in Hawai‘i are accessible for
free via a personal vehicle (and most beaches in Hawai‘i
are free public property). If you want to pay a guide to take
you to a beach or on a hike because you think the extra information
or social nature of a group is worth it—then by all means
go for it. But just know that you don’t have to. A special
note is that several hostels in Hawai‘i offer daily or
weekly tours for free!
9. Don’t travel during peak seasons.
Hawai‘i’s busiest months are December and January,
with the holiday weeks in December usually booking up all major
hotels (particularly budget-oriented places) even half a year
in advance. Prices for everything can increase 10-30% during
this peak season. If you have to travel around Hawai‘i
during these months, you can still be okay if you book 6-12 months
in advance. The Big Island offers particularly good deals during
peak seasons since it has more budget options that don’t
book up. A secondary peak season occurs in the summer, June-August,
when families off from school put a little higher demand on Hawai‘i
travel than normal.
10. Do get the seven day discounts.
Car rentals and many accommodation options offer a nice discount
for a seven day reservation. Given there are so many islands
to visit, and competing things to do, most students don’t
have the time to stay still at one place for seven days. But
if you can, it’ll save you some decent money and allow
you to really explore one place more indepth.
11. Do ask about student or kama‘aina discounts.
Many accommodations offer these discounts, but don’t publicly
announce them. It won’t hurt to ask. If you are a student
from out-of-state, make sure to get your Hawai‘i state
resident I.D. since this is required to qualify for the kama‘aina
So can Hawai‘i be a cheap student travel destination? Follow
these tips and many more on www.gladtravel.com and you will agree
the answer is YES!
GLobal ADventure Travel is Hawai‘i’s leading student
and budget travel Web site. GLAD Travel offers 1200+ accommodation
options in Hawai‘i which are all $99 or under per night,
many able to be booked online. Save time by booking online.