Airline fees are annoying though understandable. What industry isn’t doing the exact same thing? They’re ubiquitous and there is literally no way to avoid them coming to Hawaii. Many airlines that fly to Hawaii now charge more if you don’t plan and pay for checked bags in advance.
1. Tips and Tricks
Use a larger carry-on that still fits in airline overheads (22 x 14 x 9). We have been using Travelpro for years, a trick we learned from the airline flight crews. On Hawaiian Airlines for example, our full-size carry-on fits directly into the overhead. When flying on Island Air within Hawaii, their overhead storage is about 1/2 or less the size. In this scenario you may need to gate check (carrying it right to the side of the aircraft) and may not be subject to a checked bag fee.
Leave the snorkeling gear at home. There are rental places on each island or head to Costco or Walmart for an inexpensive set.
You won’t need as much clothing as you think. One sweater or sweatshirt, long pants and athletic shoes worn on the plane are generally adequate for staying warm during all seasons in Hawaii. The remaining clothes can be lightweight, mostly shorts, shirts and sandals. Dressing beyond casual is less common in Hawaii, so go very conservative in that regard.
Do some touch-up laundry while you’re here. Many if not most Hawaii accommodations have laundry facilities on location or nearby. The exception is generally the better hotels; although even many highly rated hotels have a guest laundry. Even without laundry facilities, quick washing can be done in a sink (consider packing a 1-2 ounce container of liquid dish washing soap), and a drying line in the bathroom is either provided or can be improvised. Have you tried the incredible travel clothes we wear from Ex Officio? They wash in the sink, dry in a few hours and always look good.
Use the hotel beach towels. Bringing your own takes up valuable luggage space. Use the hotel towels and drop them off on your day of departure en route to the airport. Or, consider a fast-dry travel beach towel. That can be very handy when you’ve checked out and still plan to go to the beach.
White clothes might stay at home. They don’t mix very well with the unavoidable red dirt here in Hawaii.
I’ve seen the suggestion to pack some clothes you’ll be giving/throwing away soon. You can drop them off when you’re leaving (perhaps donating them if they are in good condition) and replace them in your luggage with souvenirs.
Keep track of the weight of your carry-on (and your checked luggage). Airlines are beginning to enforce carry-on weight limits, so be prepared in case they do. A portable non-electronic luggage scale just keeps on working trip after trip.
Join the airline’s loyalty program. For example, Hawaiian Air’s frequent flyer membership will get you a $10 savings on the first checked bag and $15 saving on the second on inter-island flights. We suggest signing up for membership prior to purchasing Hawaiian Airlines tickets.
Check airline credit card programs. Many of these offer free checked bags or other perks worth investigating.
2. Cost for checked bag on flights to Hawaii:
Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, and Virgin America all charge $25 for the first checked bag.
Please let us know what Hawaii packing tips work best for you.