My first big trip post-grad trip (without the fam bam) was huge in exploring the doorways frugality opens up. (yes, frugality is far different from being cheap – click here if you don’t believe me)

After working over a year (with no vacation) I realized I needed a break. It was the tail end of Summer when my boyfriend, Jon, and I began discussing different trip ideas. We wanted to see the Northern Lights (but quite honestly needed a break before that would be possible). We both love to explore new places and after being pretty frugal our first year out of school (cooking v. eating out, inviting friends over v. going out for drinks, cutting cable, trekking to the discount supermarket, waiting to purchase items on sale, etc.) we had a few $s to spend on a trip.

A few weeks after bouncing around ideas, Jon came across a 10k trail run in Kauai, Hawaii in mid-September that supported the CrossFit Poipu kid’s program. As avid CrossFitters, always up for a challenge (and terrible runners) we started looking at airfare, hotels/AirBnB, car rental etc. to price out the trip.

With the experience from family members, we decide to check out Costco Travel. As it turns out, it was actually a better value to book our airfare and hotel through Costco than to buy our airfare separately and do an AirBnB. Costco provides multiple options for hotels, flights (# of stops, coach v. first class etc.) based on your budget, so we were able to compare a few different options until we found the best price for our budget.

Our Travel Package

Kauai: Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay Package (Sept. 13 – 20th): $2,371.25 ($1185.625 / person)

Details Individual Price
Flight Bos – Atl
Atl – LAX
LAX – Kauai
$750 x 2 = $1500
Hotel Garden View Room – 6 nights $199 x 6 = 1200
Hotel Transfer Airport – Hotel
Hotel – Airport
$20 x 2 = $40
Costco Gift Card $77 $77
Breakfast Daily for 2 people $40 x 6 = 240


Costco Pkg: $2,371.25
 vs. Individual Prices: $3,057 = Savings: $685.75

When we booked the package we didn’t have a Costco membership ($55) so if you factor that in ($55) we saved closer to $630 (still pretty good in my book). There are a few things we wouldn’t have purchased individually, for example a $77 Costco gift card came with the package and if we hadn’t gone with the package we wouldn’t have made this purchase.  Luckily for us there’s a Costco close by so were able to cash in on the gift card. Also, if breakfast hadn’t been included we most likely would have avoided the pricey hotel breakfast and opted for a local, less expensive option.

There was one additional cost we incurred on our trip. Our hotel had a “resort charge” of $22/day that wasn’t included in our travel package. We factored this in when choosing which hotel we wanted in our package. The other hotel we looked at charged roughly $20-25 per day for parking. Our hotel had free parking and the resort charge included 2 drink tickets per day which made it a better deal.

Resort Charge: $161.35

Transportation

You can also add a rental car to your vacation package. After reading the fine print, I realized that the vendor Costco uses charges an extra $100+ for drivers under 25. Luckily with a AAA membership, the under 25 fee is waived if you book with Hertz (thanks AAA)! If you’re a AAA member always check for deals on trips, tickets, etc. You’d be surprised where you can save!

Since there were only 2 of us, we booked the economy option and paid $215.40 for the 6 days we were in Kauai. Not only did we save a ton of money by exploring on our own and not booking transportation for each individual excursion, but we had a lot more freedom and options on our trip. Pro tip – always fill up your gas tank before you get to the airport. Rental car companies charge upwards of $4/gallon to get the tank back up to full when you return it. We found a Costco on the island near our hotel that charged significantly less per gallon than the average gas station in Kauai. Glad we brought that Costco card!

Rental Car: $172.08
Gas: 43.32
Transportation Total: $215.40

Food

IMG_2678

We love to eat – it’s no secret I have a wicked (there’s the Boston in me) bad sweet tooth. Instead of making reservations at all the touristy places, we saved by finding some local restaurants serving fresh fish and produce from the island. You can’t beat fish tacos with mahi mahi caught that morning served from a food truck. When traveling I usually use Yelp or ask the hotel concierge/people I meet for the best hidden gem restaurants. We also picked up a few snacks and drinks at the local supermarket to avoid shopping at the pricey hotel mini bar.

Lunch/Dinner: $248.99
Groceries: $51.01
Food Total: $300.00

Excursions

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While in Kauai we took advantage of all that the island had to offer. We did as many activities as we could on our own. This included hiking Waimea Canyon State Park, visiting Wailua Falls, venturing to Kauai Coffee Company (better than Starbucks), exploring the northern part of the island and watching the sunset from the beach at our hotel. While we minimized the cost of our excursions, we did pay for a few trips. We rented snorkel equipment from Snorkel Bob’s (they even threw in Boogie boards for us to relive our childhood glory days) which cost us $95.21 for the week for 2 sets of equipment. We took the equipment down to Poipu Beach (free to enter and free parking) to explore the ocean.

We also booked a Catamaran tour of the Na Pali coast through Snorkel Bob with Kauai Sea Tours which was $273.12. The boat departed from Port Allen Harbor at 7 am got back around 1 pm. The trip took us snorkeling (we saw sea turtles & an albino dolphin) and included a continental breakfast, lunch and plenty of drinks (so bring your IDs).

The 10k we built our trip around, The Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run, was $160 per person  and included our entry fees, a swag bag, a pre-run Exhibition event with professional athletes and members of the Poipu kid’s program and a sunset Luau dinner. The remainder of our time on the island was spent visiting different beaches and towns, eating local cuisine and relaxing at the hotel.

Snorkel Equipment Rental (1 wk, 2 sets): $95.21
Kauai Sea Tours Na Pali Tour (for 2): $273.12
Ultimate Hawaiian Trail Run Pkg. (for 2): $320
Excursions Total: $688.33

Our Trip Totaled: $3623.60 or $1811.80 per person

Costco Package: $2,371.25
Resort Charge: $161.25
Transportation: $215.40
Food: $300.00
Excursions: $688.33

By using my Citi Double Cash credit card we received 2% cash back on all of our purchases which added up to $70+ in a statement credit bringing our total per person cost to under $1800 per person.

4 thoughts on “Travel Tips: How Frugality Paid for 6 Days in Hawaii”

  1. Nice one, I have had a similar experience here in Australia, booking myself made it very cheap to go overseas and enjoy a holiday for a week with my girlfriend. Definitely would recommend others to look into this sort of holiday. Cheers

  2. Thanks for the comment! Booking it yourself is definitely the way to go as travel agents build their fees into the cost of the program. Glad to hear you enjoyed your holiday!

  3. I love this post for a few reasons!

    1) my husband and I are planning a trip to Hawaii in 2018 and it’s great to see some tips on how you saved money booking your trip!
    2) I love that you mention the points you got back on your Citi Double Cash credit card! I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card now and we get 3% cash back on travel and restaurants, so this is huge when we are vacationing. I think so many people overlook how much money you can get back in rewards.

    Something we are looking to do when we book our trip is utilizing our current rewards points towards the cost of our trip. If we book through our credit card’s website, we save 20%! we have been saving our points specifically to cash in towards a trip!

    1. Thank you for your comment! I’m very jealous of your upcoming trip – Hawaii was absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to go back as soon as possible. Rewards definitely add up, especially if you plan ahead and take advantage of the various categories offered by specific cards. If you have flexibility in terms of time of year you go, you can save a lot of money that way. We went in September and the weather was amazing but because the school year had just started, there weren’t a ton of tourists on the island. If you’re going to Kauai feel free to email me about food/excursions/etc. happy to help in any way I can 🙂

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