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by Anitra Pickett, CEO of GLAD Travel

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 expensive here.”

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, etc.
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 number.

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 (local) discounts.

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.




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