By Ethan Maurice | October 30, 2015
If you play your cards right, Hawaii, and anywhere else really, can be extremely affordable. I spend a grand total of $669 while living it up for two and a half months in paradise. I wasn't living with a strict budge or anything either, I just made a couple of the right moves that made the entire cost of my stay, including flight, less than $10 a day. Simple.
Smart Move #1: The Flight
The first hurdle in economically traveling anywhere is transportation, which in many cases is a flight. The cheapest flight I could find from Phoenix, AZ to the Big Island of Hawaii was $676 round trip (which is more than I spent on the entire trip).
I'd read about using credit cards to get free flights on one of my favorite websites (The Art of Non-Conformity) in the past, so I looked into getting a card with bonus miles for Hawaiian Airlines. I found the “Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard” that gives you a bonus of 35,000 airline miles if you spend $1000 on the card in the first three months after activating the card.
Flight to Hawaii Cost: 20,000 miles
Flight Back: 17,500 miles
Total: 37,500 miles
With the card, I came up just short of the 37,500 miles required round trip and had to pay $64.72 to cover the remaining miles, so the final airfare breakdown was:
Credit Card Yearly Fee: $89
Airfare Tax Total: $11.20
Checked Bags: $50
Partial Airfare: $64.72
Using the credit card bonus miles method, almost saved me $500.
Smart Move #2: Cheap Food & Free Shelter
The second move that massively brought the cost down (and the fun up, really the whole point of going) on my trip was the WWOOF Program. In exchange for working 20 hours a week on a farm, I got my own cabin and received $60 a week to help offset the cost of food. This is huge, staying in a hostel or renting an apartment for a couple months would cost thousands. Additionally, I knocked $600 off my food bill.
Smart Move #3: Hitchhiking Around the Island
No rental car, taxis, or any expenses at all for transportation around the island. For two and a half months I just walked to the highway, stuck my thumb out and hitched. Not only was this free, it was a large part of the adventure. I met and conversed with probably a hundred different people this way. Hitchhiking is a common and socially acceptable method of transportation on the Big Island. I'd also periodically offer fruit from our farm, or cookies to whomever gave me a lift as we parted ways, which always left each driver more willing to pick up the next hitchhiker they saw.
As I said at the beginning, flight included, it all amounted to $669 over 72 days. Less than the cost of a plane ticket.
So go enjoy Hawaii for a while! It's cheaper than staying home.