Our last trip to Hawaii was a three-year process in the making. We could have done it quicker, but I still wanted to maintain our other trips. So how do you go about
Figure out your flights. The majority of your cost is going to be getting to Hawaii. You can find decent deals on hotels and food can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you make it in most places. But flights are always the wild card when planning a trip to Hawaii on a budget. Here are our considerations for keeping costs down.
General Flight Considerations
To give you an idea of the airline costs; for the three of us to fly round trip from Chicago to Honolulu, it was 135,000 miles total. Joni and I can fly to Cancun from Chicago round trip for 20-25,000 combined usually. It is possible to get the points pretty quickly if you want to do the credit card sign up bonus game.
Southwest Airlines recently got approved for long haul flights from the West Coast to Hawaii. Their first test flight was completed with government review and they have just recently opened up flights to Hawaii. When the news initially broke about Southwest getting closer to having another carrier flying from the Continental United States, some of the other carriers started to run specials with some of the lowest costs seen in a long time.
It is believed that the increase in competition will drop the dollar amount and airline miles required for that once…or twice… in a lifetime trip. With this news, I am having to keep four different airlines as potential options.
Keep in mind what airline and what airport you want to travel out of when planning a trip to Hawaii on a budget. Are you ok with a layover? Want a straight through
Consideration # 1 – Inter-Island Flights with Hawaiian Airlines
Joni had mentioned she wants to go to Maui along with Oahu this next trip. So when we are planning our trip to Hawaii on a budget we have to consider this additional cost. Hawaiian Airlines runs cheap flights between the islands. I have seen prices ranging from about $150 round trip or 15,000 miles between the islands per person. Hawaiian Airlines has a secure online shopping portal where I already picked up around 4,000 miles in the last 4-6 months doing shopping at a couple online stores I like. This will definitely help our budget.
The other quick options for miles if I need for these on shorter notice is through Barclays. They have a Hawaiian Airlines card where just the general offer is 50,000 miles for $1,000 in purchases over 3 months. I also over the past year have seen an offer as good as 60,000 miles after one purchase. That would be 3-4 round trips between the islands for an annual fee of $99.
Flights to Hawaii
Option #1 – United Airlines again (Chicago to Hawaii)
This is what we used last time. Right now we are mostly getting our miles using their phone mobile app making purchases at Buffalo Wild Wings and Starbucks. I already have enough in the account for one round trip ticket. I don’t think Joni would approve on me going on a solo trip for this one. I do not want to lock miles hard into United Airlines as they do not have the best options for Las Vegas.
Option #2 – Southwest
This is more likely the direction we will end up going. I do prefer Southwest over United just as a personal preference. Most of my Southwest miles that I use for my Vegas trips come from the Ultimate Rewards program now with Milwaukee having non-stop flights there.
The superior flexibility that Chase has with their Ultimate Rewards points program is that I can transfer those points to either Southwest or United. This offers us great options when we are planning trips and will certainly come in handing when planning a trip to Hawaii on a budget.
Option #3 – Delta through Minneapolis
Delta is my second favorite airline. If I am not flying Southwest to Las Vegas, then most likely I am flying Delta. They have many non-stop flights all over; including some to Hawaii. Delta also has options for flights out from many of the regional airports to get to Minneapolis, Detroit or even Salt Lake City as places to connect from.
One of the new cards I have been looking at over the last 4-6 months is from American Express. Delta Miles take a long time to accrue using their branded credit card at 1 point per dollar for regular purchases. I do carry it and pay the annual fee as I am ahead just on bag fees every year and it also gets me earlier boarding.
But the American Express Gold Card gives 4 Membership Reward Points per dollar spent on Groceries and Restaurants. These points can be converted into Delta Miles. Groceries and restaurants are more substantial expenses in our household, so I am still working the math to see if the cost of the annual fee makes up for the difference.
So what is the next thing we will have to consider when planning a trip to Hawaii on a budget? Hotels… stay tuned we have tips for that too!