I have been writing some posts on the different aspects of planning a big budget trip. Here are some updates on where we are with our 6 Day Budget vacation to Oahu, Hawaii for this October.
Update for my post: Deciding if we Need to Rent a Car in Oahu Hawaii
I ended up booking a car for our last 3 days. We will shuttle from HNL airport to our hotel in Waikiki and use public transportation for our first 3 days. Then shuttle back to HNL to pick up a car for our last 3 days where we will be staying on the North Shore.
I booked the car through Autoslash which is an awesome website for finding discount car rentals. They showed me offers for as low as $85 for the 3 days. I did not choose the lowest offer because I wanted to use a trusted carrier (which eliminated the lowest 2 options) and Mark wanted a compact car (which surprisingly was not the cheapest option). Final cost $126 for 3 days with unlimited miles through Alamo.
The hotels in Waikiki have an average parking fee of $45 per night. Not having a car those days eliminates $135 in Parking expenses (plus 3 days of car rental). I am sure we will do fine with public transportation in Waikiki. The hotel we will stay at the last 3 days only has a $15 per night parking fee, which I think is affordable. Having a car those days makes a lot of sense since we will be staying on the more remote North Shore and doing a lot of exploring.
I am really happy how this ended up working out!
How we worked through our Travel Planning issues from my post: What are the Odds!
Problem 1 – Airfare points
While booking our trip to Hawaii, we ran into some road blocks. The first one was that I was just short of having enough points to completely book our airfare with Southwest. While I was waiting the 48 hours for a points transfer from another program, the points needed for one of the flight segments went up just enough so that I still didn’t have enough points. Oy!
My solution was to transfer the additional points from our Best Western loyalty account. They took almost a week to transfer. During that time, I was freaking out that the price would creep up again. Fortunately the points arrived and the last segment got booked! I gotta say, I was sweating on that one.
I have checked the fare prices each time SW has had a sale since then and we really locked in at just the right time to get excellent fares. I was able to add Early Bird check ins and get the fees refunded on my Amex Gold card and Marks from our Capital One Venture card. Mark is going on my Companion Pass and my fares were 100% from points so our total out of pocket was $44.80 for the taxes and fees. Maybe it wont be the most posh airtravel, but it is definitely budget friendly!
Problem 2- Hotel Points
I planned to stay 3 days in a Hyatt Hotel with points to reduce some of our costs in Hawaii. Since I had tapped my Hyatt account on my trip to Portland in May, I wanted to grab a US Travel Association Daily Getaways Deal on 30,000 Hyatt points for $330. Unfortunately, they were gone in seconds. I was online waiting for the deal to go live and still couldn’t get them. My plan B was to sign Mark up for a Sapphire Preferred card and transfer points from the sign up bonus to cover 3 nights at a Hyatt hotel. Almost there!
There were 3 properties to choose from and I decided that the Centric was just right for us. It is a nice property, with a decent location and amenities. Another Way to Avoid Hotel Fees is to book at a hotel that waives the Resort Fees when you book a Reward Night. So we save $35 per night/$105 total over the 3 nights by not having to pay Resort Fees.
Problem 3 – Construction on the Seawall in Waikiki
Right after completing our airline bookings for Hawaii, the state published a notice saying that they would be starting a restoration project on their Waikiki beach seawall. I read this with mixed feelings. Greatful for the infrastructure updates but sad that they would probably still be working on it during our stay. Such is life!
I looked at a few hotels for the 2nd half of our trip that would put us far down the beach near Diamond head. The New Otani is right on the beach and far enough away that I am pretty sure it would not be affected. We also discussed staying at the Marriott in Ko Olina for those days. They have a beautiful man made lagoon beach that I was super excited about, but I struggled to get a room into the budget I had set. In the meantime, I was showing Mark some of my final choices and he really got excited about the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore.
I liked the resort, but the prices were coming out even higher than at Ko Olina. I checked it everywhere and every which way that I could think and the price was coming in around $1400-$1600 (including taxes and resort fees) for the 3 days. My original budget was $1000-$1200 for those hotel nights. Sunday, I was poking around on their site and found a new fall special that gave a 20% room discount plus a $100 Resort Credit. So the same room I had been eyeing now came out to $1197 (including taxes and resort fees). I was actually just killing time waiting for Mark to go to dinner when this happened. I made him wait while I booked it right then and there. Lol. Call me crazy, but the Sun, Moon and Stars finally lined up and I din’t want to miss it.
Where we Stand to Date
- So Airfare is booked $44.80
- Hotel for nights 4-6 is booked $1197 (Plus $15 per night Parking) = $1242
- Hotel for nights 1-3 will be booked with Reward Points by end of month $0
- Car Rental days 4-6 $126
- Shuttles to and from HNL $60
- 1 Night layover hotel in Oakland with a free airport shuttle booked with points $0
Total Spend on the “Bones” of our trip $1472.80. A very successful budget trip plan!
Why I am Breaking it Down for you
I spell out our plan so that you can see that you too can travel well on the cheap. You just have to be willing to put in the time to do the research, use some strategy, plan ahead with your points and be willing to work through any hurdles that might pop up. I know this will be a great trip and that a huge part of my enjoyment will be knowing I don’t have to go home to a big vacation bill!
Nearly all our reservations are complete! Planning a Big Trip CAN be an Emotional Roller Coaster but now that it is all planned, I can relax until it’s time to go!
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!