So much change is afoot that it is hard to keep track of it, even on the ground here. So what does the new normal in Hawaii vacations look like now?
Of course, we’re keeping a close eye on COVID case counts, as those will play a role in what, if anything, Hawaii might change next. But as of today, here’s how Hawaii vacations are stacking up and what you can do to make your travels more seamless.
1. Hawaii flights. Get as much room as you can afford or finagle.
We have seen that both premium economy and first-class availability have been more limited than either basic or full-fare economy. The fact is, those who can afford the higher fare choose to get as much space as they can on their Hawaii vacation.
BOH: One way we have scored countless upgrades is to be the first one to check in 24 hours in advance. We set the alarm for a couple of minutes before and stand ready for the clock to tick. This has saved us tons of money with far less expensive upgrades or better seats than might have been available at the time of booking. Has that worked for you?
2. Hotels and vacation rentals.
There’s no question here, for all but shorter stays, perhaps in Honolulu or Maui, the de facto standard in Hawaii accommodations is vacation rentals. That’s more true now than ever.
BOH: We’ve said this countless times. With a Hawaii vacation rental, you can control your own vacation destiny far better than in a hotel. There will be no staff visiting your room. You have a complete kitchen to make whatever meals you want or need to easily. Lastly, vacation rentals sell much better than hotel rooms, so be sure to get what you want before buying Cheap Flights to Hawaii.
3. Restaurant reservations are in very short supply. Plan accordingly.
The restaurant situation has gotten worse again. That, when Governor Ige reduced occupancy at Hawaii restaurants from 75% to 50% last week. When you put that together with an extreme staff shortage, you have a recipe for disaster.
BOH: Options here include booking restaurant reservations far in advance when available. If it’s that important, then check restaurant availability before booking air travel. Otherwise, be prepared for options. Those can include restaurants that don’t take reservations, where showing up either before they open or right before closing might be helpful. Then too, the food truck business in Hawaii has exploded, and some of it is quite good fare. So consider those options too.
4. Car rentals. $$$. Oh my.
Availability is still quite bad, although there are a few rays of sunshine out there. Many of you have recently reported last-minute availability. That was both for the rental itself and for obtaining better pricing and the vehicle of choice. So don’t just do it once and forget about it. Keep checking yourself.
BOH: We just booked a small car ourselves for a 5-day Hawaii car rental. The cost was $200 per day. Ouch. We used Turo, which, other than the price, worked out well. On contacting our own car insurance carrier, they told us that they treat Turo rentals the same way they do any major car rental company. Thus we did not opt for any additional insurance coverage.
5. Prepare for everything, including the unexpected.
Stay on top of Hawaii Safe Travels rules as they change.
BOH: For example, by now, you should be aware that airlines including Hawaiian, Alaska, Southwest, American and United all offer wristbands that can be obtained before departing the mainland. Those prove that a traveler complies with Hawaii Safe Travels rules. As a result, you will walk directly off the plane without spending a great deal of time (sometimes hours) dealing with Safe Travels requirements.
Also, it is still possible that there will be changes in the Safe Travels rules in the weeks ahead if the COVID caseload continues sky-high. Stay tuned for that and be prepared for pre-travel testing, should that again be required.