You’ve been saving up long and hard for a Hawaii vacation after the past two unfathomable years. With Hawaii travel costs at levels never seen before, the last thing you want to do is waste even more money. Our Hawaii scam report lists some of the best ways to avoid trouble and not feel overwhelmed by a giant wave of endless fees.
Also, we want to keep it as light as possible and make sure saving a game isn’t a hassle. And we have room for you to add your thoughts to our Hawaii scam report below. We’ve got ideas for everything from car rentals, hotels, airlines, restaurants, and more.
Save on Hawaiian airline costs and fees.
1. Book online at the best times. As a rule, it is Tuesday and Thursday for the cheapest plane ticket. The best deals are only online. You cannot get them by calling the airline. Additionally, there may be additional phone charges to boot. So get your browser ready (maybe even in incognito mode) and get the best deal.
2. Change fees come back and they hurt. When you change the cheapest tickets (except on Southwest), the fees can range from expensive to a complete loss of the price paid. And it won’t stop there. Airlines plan to reinstate more ancillary fees in Hawaii and elsewhere.
3. What about “hold a fare?” Most airlines offer a fare lock feature where, for a small fee, you can avoid committing until you’re ready. We used it ourselves when there was a soon to be gone cheap plane ticket. Remember that if you have credit that is yours, a rate hold does not work. We found out with Hawaiian when we went to pay and couldn’t claim the credit we wanted. This meant starting a new booking and the pending rate was higher.
3. Carefully consider the options of basic economy, regular economy and premium economy. Is the basic economy worth the savings from $30 each way, which comes with great limitations? Also, is the premium economy worth the extra cost, starting at $70 extra? Read our newly updated Basic Economy Guide to Hawaii.
4. Avoid checked baggage fees. Southwest does not currently charge for the first two checked bags per passenger. On Alaska, Hawaiian and other airlines, having their brand name credit card will eliminate the charge on the first checked bag. But these cards are not free.
5. Weigh and measure your baggage and compare it with airline rules. Friends just paid for their overweight carry-on bags here in Hawaii, for example. On checked bags, over 62 inches in total and over 50 pounds will almost always cost you more. Don’t be caught off guard.
6. Will you be served on board? And if so, at what price? Check ahead so you can plan accordingly. This not only varies from airline to airline, but also where you are departing from. The options aren’t great either way, so consider bringing your own food and snacks on board unless you’re traveling in a premium cabin.
7. Finally, book directly with the airline. Booking with a third party opens the door to problems if something goes wrong. These days it happens all the time.
Say no to overpriced food and drink at Hawaiian restaurants.
We have been saying this for years. It’s too easy to overpay when it comes to restaurants in Hawaii. Although there are many exceptions, buyers should beware. It can break your budget.
Now too, restaurants are understaffed and some have rapidly changing hours.
1. Check restaurant websites for promotions.
2. Also check Yelp for reviews and discounts.
3. Try to eat your main meal at lunch, as even expensive restaurants are likely to charge significantly less than in the evening.
4. Look for early bird specials.
5. Have a cocktail at this beautiful beachfront restaurant and dine in your condo or somewhere less expensive.
6. Shop at farmers markets or stop at local produce stands. You will find the best in Hawaii.
7. Forget hotel restaurants and buffets, due to high cost and questionable quality and value. Always check reviews and on-site before committing to it.
Avoid accommodations without at least a basic kitchenette.
If you have no way to prepare even the simplest meals, that means you could be eating every restaurant meal. It’s expensive and sometimes downright inconvenient.
It is quite common to find refrigerators and even microwaves in hotels in Hawaii. These are helpful in so many ways, saving you both money and time to do the most important things on your bucket list in Hawaii. Vacation rentals go a step further to provide full kitchen facilities in general.
Save on expensive car rentals in Hawaii.
The story here isn’t great, but at least it’s better than it was. We have what you need! Read one of our most popular articles. Just updated. 25 tips for getting a discount car rental in Hawaii in 2022.
Beware of Hawaii vacation rentals without customer support.
1. If you book your Hawaii vacation rental with a private individual, it can go well for all counts. On the other hand, you may have little help or recourse when something goes wrong. We could write a Hawaii scam report on this, frankly.
2. Book using Airbnb or a reliable vacation rental company that has customer service and only offers legal rentals. Choose a rental where there is someone you can count on in case of problems. For example, we were recently en route to a rental, when we were unable to get in touch with the owner. Airbnb support could step in and help save the day.
Avoid exorbitant parking fees.
It irritates us to now pay up to $65 for hotel parking if we can avoid it. It is good to check this before you book your accommodation, so that parking costs are not a surprise. When it comes to avoiding them, we make it a game too, and the savings are just icing on the cake. In fact, he pays for the cake.
Read our article on free parking in Waikiki.
Be aware of bank/ATM fees in Hawaii.
Even if you’re still in the United States, banking can be a bad trap in Hawaii. So it is better to understand this before you leave the house as well.
1. In most cases, you won’t find your mainland bank here in Hawaii, and you may not be able to find an in-network ATM that avoids fees. Our two main banks, Bank of Hawaii and First Hawaiian, both charge significant fees if you use their ATMs, but are not customers of them.
2. One tip is to pick up cash from grocery stores in Hawaii without paying ATM fees.
3. Use your bank’s ATM locator to locate places in Hawaii that won’t charge you fees.
4. Others report that mainland credit union members get free access to ATMs in Hawaii.
Don’t prepay for things you might not use.
1. Whether it’s meals, activities or flowers, it’s not always possible to know in advance what you’ll want when you’re here.
2. Think about the things you really need to book in advance. It largely depends on the seasons. If you are here during the peak of summer and during the holidays, pre-booking may be necessary. At other times, this may be less true.
Choose activities carefully.
Hawaii is synonymous with 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 savings online.
Get the best price.
1. It’s always fair to politely ask for the most reasonable cost possible. Try to buy directly from the source, rather than a third party, for more flexibility in this regard. Remember to ask your hotel or vacation rental agency when booking if there are any promotions. We see some hotels offering freebies to those who book online directly with them.
2. Try to negotiate accommodations and activities. Even car rentals have flexibility, so again, make it a game, not a problem. And stay light. Courtesy always brings the best results. We got so many benefits this way!
We look forward to your additions to the Hawaii scam report in the comments below. Mahalo!