For travel within the US, I almost always try to fly Southwest. In my opinion, they are the best budget carrier around, key word being budget. You won’t get the amenities or options of other carriers, but they get the job done. Southwest won’t charge you outrageous fees to change flights and you can even cancel your reservation up until the day of your flight and receive credit for your next flight.
After airfare, hotels and lodging are usually the next biggest expense. For this trip, we stayed in a condominium hotel called the Honua Kai. About 70% of the units are owned by private owners and the hotel owns the other 30%. Our ocean front studio was about $200 a night less than a comparable room in the Westin or Hyatt down the road. Our 900 sq. ft. studio had been recently renovated, so it was in immaculate shape with brand new stainless steel appliances and granite counters in the kitchen and bath.
I’ve used Vacation Rentals By Owner(VRBO) for my last few trips and saved a ton of money, while staying in some beautiful rentals. They have what seems like an infinite directory of vacation rentals, from condos to houses all across the world. Some of the units are managed by the actual owner while others are managed by management properties. For large families or groups of friends this should be your first choice.
One of the benefits about staying in a vacation rental or condo is there is usually a full kitchen available. When I’m on vacation, I don’t need to eat out for every meal. Our lanai view above, was a great setting for breakfast every day. But if you want to eat out, try going for happy hours and look for reasonably priced local restaurants. The best meal we had in Hawaii was out of a school bus called Bruddah’s BBQ on the side of the road that we found on Yelp!
We used Yelp and Trip Advisor to figure out which activities and restaurants we wanted to try. Since we were only there for 5 days, I didn’t feel the need to do many paid activities. Maui has some of the best shore snorkeling in the world and with a little research you can find out the best spots on the island. We drove 15 minutes to Honolua Bay on our second day, and by noon there were 3 chartered catamarans(all departed from near our hotel) anchored offshore. Each person on these boats paid $75 to be taken to this amazing bay and I’m sure they thought it was worth it(I came within 3 ft. of 2 giant sea turtles!), while we drove and parked nearby for free!
I’ve given you some great ways to save so far, but remember you are on vacation. Don’t forget to splurge on one or two things while you’re there, whether it’s a nice dinner or an awesome activity. Our splurge was the Old Lahaina Luau, at $100/person. Was it worth it? Probably not, but we had a great time, ate and drank all we could, and sat beachside during sunset for dinner and a show.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the costs of our 4 night/5 day trip to Maui for two people:
Do you like these suggestions or do you prefer to splurge and pamper yourself on vacation? Is there anything you do on vacation to save money that I missed?
Hi, I'm Harry, the owner and head writer for Your PF Pro. I started this site back in 2011 in order to create a place where young professionals could come and get all of their financial questions answered. On the site, you'll find articles on everything from asset allocation for retirement to saving money at Chipotle! So enjoy..