You’ve saved long and hard for a Hawaii vacation. The last thing you want to do is to waste your money. Our just updated annual Hawaii rip off report lists some of the top ways to avoid problems and save money. These are from our own personal experiences.
Moreover, we make all of this a fun game, so it isn’t a hassle. And we’ve got space for you to add your ideas to our Hawaii rip off report below.
Save on Hawaii airline fees.
1. Book online. The best deals are online and are not matched when calling the airline. Plus there can be an additional phone fee to boot.
2. Change fees hurt. When you change a ticket (except on Southwest) the fee can range from expensive to a complete forfeit of the price paid. Know what you’re getting into before committing. Most airlines offer a fare hold feature where, for a nominal fee, you can avoid committing before you are ready.
3. Consider basic economy/regular economy/premium economy. Is basic economy worth the savings starting at $30 each way? Also, is premium economy is worth the extra cost at from $70? Read our just updated Guide | Basic Economy to Hawaii.
5. Weight and measure your bags and compare with airline rules. Friends just paid for their overweight carry-on luggage here in Hawaii as an example. On checked bags, over 62 total inches, and over 50 pounds is virtually always going to cost you extra. Read our Updated | Checked Bag Fees on Flights to Hawaii.
6. Will you be served food on-board? Check in advance so that you can plan accordingly. It varies not only from airline to airline, but depending on where you are flying from.
Say no to overpriced Hawaii restaurant meals and drinks.
We’ve been saying this for a long time. It is too easy to pay a whole lot when it comes to Hawaii restaurants. While there are many exceptions, buyer beware. This can break your budget.
1. Check restaurant websites for specials.
2. Check Yelp for reviews and discounts too.
3. Try eating your main meal at lunch when even expensive restaurants are likely to charge far less than in the evening.
4. Look for early bird specials.
5. Have a cocktail at that beautiful beachfront dining spot and eat dinner in your condo or somewhere less expensive.
6. Shop at farmers’ markets or stop at local produce stands. You’ll find the best of Hawaii.
7. Pass on both hotel restaurants and buffets, due to high cost and questionable quality and value. Always double check reviews and on-site before committing to these.
Skip accommodations without a basic kitchenette.
If you have no way to prepare even the simplest of meals, it means you could be eating all meals out. That is costly and at times downright inconvenient.
It is quite common to find refrigerators and even microwaves in Hawaii hotels. These come in handy in so many ways, both saving you money and time to do the most important things on your Hawaii bucket list. Vacation rentals go even further to generally provide full kitchen facilities.
Save on Hawaii car rentals.
We’ve got you covered! Read one of our most popular posts. Just updated. 25 Tips to Get a Discount Hawaii Car Rental in 2020.
Caution on Hawaii vacation rentals without customer support.
1. If you book your Hawaii vacation rental with an individual, it may go great in every way. On the other hand, you may have little help or recourse when something goes wrong. We could write a Hawaii rip off report just about this frankly.
2. Book Airbnb or a reliable island-based vacation rental company that has customer support. Choose a rental where there is someone you can count on when problems occur. Case in point, we recently were en route to a rental, when we could not get in touch with the owner. Airbnb support was able to step in and help.
Avoid exorbitant parking fees.
It just irks us to pay $35 to park if we can avoid it. It’s good to check this out before booking your accommodation, so parking fees don’t come as a surprise. When it comes to avoiding them, we just make it a game, and the savings is just the frosting on the cake. In fact, it pays for the cake.
Read our post on free parking Waikiki.
Be mindful of Bank/ATM fees in Hawaii.
Even though you’re still in the US, bank transactions can be a bad gotcha in Hawaii. So best to figure this out before leaving home as well.
1. For the most part, you won’t find your mainland bank here in Hawaii, and you may not be able to find a network ATM that avoids fees. Our two major banks, Bank of Hawaii and First Hawaiian both assess significant fees if you use their ATM’s, but aren’t one of their customers.
2. Best bet is to get cash back at Hawaii grocery stores without paying an ATM fee.
3. Use your bank’s ATM finder to locate places in Hawaii that won’t charge you a fee.
Don’t prepay for things you might not use.
1. Whether meals, activities, or flowers, it’s not always possible to know in advance what you’ll want when you are actually here.
2. Consider which things you really do need to book in advance. This is largely seasonally dependent. If you’re here during June, July and at the holidays, pre-booking may be required. At other times, it generally is not.
Choose activities carefully.
Hawaii is all about great activities. But where you buy them and how much you pay is another matter.
Consider buying directly from the activity provider rather than going through a commissioned activity broker. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Check for online savings. And remember that on Oahu, we saved $144 each using the Go Oahu card. We made it a game and could not have had more fun!
Get the best price.
1. It is always fair game to ask politely for the most reasonable cost possible. Just like you do when it comes to cheap flights to Hawaii. Try to buy directly from the source, rather than a third party, for the most flexibility in this regard. Consider asking your hotel or vacation rental company when booking, if there are any specials.
2. Try negotiating accommodations and activities. Even car rentals have flexibility, so, again, make it a game, not a problem. And stay light-hearted. Courtesy always brings the best results. We’ve gotten so many perks this way!
We look forward to your Hawaii rip off report additions in comments below. Mahalo!