Live Well for Less
Want to beat the high cost of living in the Islands? Move to Minneapolis. Barring that, you can read this story, which has ideas on how to stretch your dollar.
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>> TravelLiving in one of the world’s most popular destinations, Hawaii residents have a tougher time than most planning budget-friendly trips. Here are some money-saving tips to help you on your way. —Ronna Bolante
1. Timing is everything.
Travel when most people won’t. Go between mid-January through May and late August to mid-December, avoiding holidays and school breaks, advises Corene Tsang of Panda Travel. “Spring and fall have excellent bargains as well as good weather.”
Book your trip one to two months in advance. “The rule of thumb is if you’re booking for the [high season], the longer you book ahead, the better,” says Paul Kramer, co-owner of Hawaiian Travel Club. It’s a bit of a gamble, but if it’s for the off season, you could wait for last-minute deals from airlines and hotels.
Save money by flying on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The same goes for hotels, especially in leisure cities like Anaheim, Orlando, Reno and Las Vegas, where weekend room rates are sometimes double the weekday rates.
2. Do your research.
There’s no shortage of Web sites that can help you with your search for airfare and hotels, including some of our favorites:
• www.expedia.com: One of the Web’s most successful travel providers.
• www.kayak.com: A travel search engine that scours more than 100 sites for the best airfares.
• www.priceline.com: Visitors set their own prices for hotels and travel packages, and companies bid for business.
• www.breezenet.com: Compares rental car prices in most major cities.
When you think you’ve found the best online deal, call your favorite local travel agency to see if it can offer competitive fares. If you don’t have the time (or interest) to do the legwork yourself, a travel agent will do it for you and avoid common booking errors, like flying into the wrong airport.
Call hotels directly for deals that aren’t advertised or available online.
Stay alert. Subscribe to e-newsletters from travel sites, airlines and hotels for last-minute specials, which need to be booked ASAP.
3. Get what you deserve.
Ask for discounts (AAA, military, etc.), especially kamaaina rates on the Neighbor Islands or even here on Oahu. “It’s not just hotels that offer them; ask for kamaaina rates for area attractions,” says Mike Brown of Panda Travel. Inquire about other specials—free breakfasts, meal credits, room upgrades or spa and golf packages.
Act like a tourist. Grab the visitor coupon books available at airports and hotels, which can save you money on food, shopping and activities.
Open a frequent flyer account with every airline you fly. Many airlines have mile-swapping arrangements, such as Continental and Hawaiian, and United and Aloha airlines.
QUICK TIP: Get away right here on Oahu. A luxurious suite in Waikiki, a cozy bed-and-breakfast on the Windward Side or a North Shore retreat can provide a much-needed change of scenery, without the hassle of airports or rental cars.