I’ve been told my whole life that Hawaii is ridiculously expensive, and a once in a lifetime kind of trip that you take for honeymoons, or 20th anniversaries. I’ve never been one to accept what other people say though, and decided to do my own research, and price it out for myself. I’m notorious for being able to find crazy deals, and make trips cheaper than they should be. We ended up spending seven days on the North Shore of Oahu, for a total cost of 2,500 dollars. We didn’t scrimp, and still went out to nice dinners every night, and even took a helicopter ride around the island. I’m going to share my tips for how we did it, and made it possible.

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1.  Airfare to Hawaii is notoriously expensive. Like, almost as expensive as airfare to Europe. David and I signed up for an airlines credit card (we use American Airlines), and put all of our bills and major purchases on it. We love it, and also love the sign up bonus that’s offered. When we signed up we received 50,000 bonus miles. We continuously searched for the best deals to use our miles, and ended up being able to fly to Oahu for free.

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2. Another huge cost in Hawaii is the resorts. David and I priced out different hotels in Hawaii, and they were ridiculously expensive. We searched on VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and found an amazing condo, on Oahu’s North Shore, that was attached to Turtle Bay Resort, for a little over $100 a night. This saved us money in two ways. For starters, we were saving money because the actual cost of our accommodations were cheaper. Secondly, having a condo with a kitchen was a big money saver. Moral of the story – search places like VRBO and AirBnb instead of looking at hotels when you’re planning your trip to Hawaii.

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3. When you score your amazing condo, plan to eat breakfast and lunch there everyday. When we first arrived in Oahu, we made two grocery trips. One, was a stop in Chinatown, for some of the freshest fruit, and largest avocados I’ve ever seen. The second, was a stop at Foodland, which is Hawaii’s most common grocery store, to stock up on needed breakfast and lunch items for the week. We also got several bottles of wine, and a case of Kona beer. This saved us a LOT of money.

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4. There’s a lot of things you can spend money on in Hawaii – snorkel cruises, dolphin encounters, kayaking. But there’s a lot of things that are free. If you’re really looking to save money, fill your days with free activities, that will be just as much fun as the things that will cost you money. Exploring the island’s legendary beaches, or beautiful hikes doesn’t cost anything.

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5. Set a budget for what you’re going to spend at restaurants. There’s plenty of amazing places to eat and drink on the island, and part of going on vacation is exploring those. But be realistic with yourself – what can you actually afford to spend? We’ve found that setting a budget, and using an app to track our spending like Mint, really helps keep us from overspending, and going into debt.

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These are the five ways that we turned a trip of a lifetime, into a trip that can easily be taken every couple of years. We love Hawaii, and we hope our tips make it a trip that is more attainable for your family to experience and enjoy.

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