Sunday, January 27, 2013

Getting Back to the Islands

After leaving Hawaii, it is probably not surprising given this blog’s title that I am always looking for a way to get back.  That is especially true after suffering through the extremely cold day that saw my Denver Broncos lose in the playoffs dashing my hopes of travelling to New Orleans for a Super Bowl.  So the best way to get over something is to have something to look forward to, so I began to plan my next Hawaii trip.

This time around the pull to the islands is a powerful one, as I will be competing in my second Lavaman Triathlon on March 24 while fund raising for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training (You can donate to my cause here:  It also overlaps with the kid’s Spring Break so it is a wonderful time to head to the Big Island.

The dominant cost (multiplied by 5 for our family) of any Hawaiian vacation is getting there.  Fortunately with as many trips as we have taken over the years I have found a few tricks that work well.  Here is my process for finding the cheapest airfare to Hawaii.

  1. Begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey always says and start with the end destination in the islands.  Whether it be Maui, the Big Island, Kaui, or Oahu, start looking for your fares to that destination form various West Coast cities on a variety of airlines.  Use a tool like Travel Zoo’s Super Search ( to search rates from various cities up and down the California coast (San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco) and a few inland like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City (because it is a Delta hub).  United does fly direct from Denver, but I have never found it to be the cheapest fare, but don’t forget to check as the next step says…
  2. Be flexible in your arrival and departure times either staying longer or shortening your stay slightly as it can save you a lot in airfare. My family saved a ton in 2012 by extending our Thanksgiving vacation more than offsetting additional costs and who complains about a longer stay in Hawaii if you can pull it off. Also be flexible with your airline choice as you never know which one will be the cheapest at any given time. 
  3. Using the steps above I found the cheapest airfares for the upcoming trip from Las Vegas on Hawaiian (a little known secret, but Las Vegas is one of the favorite places for Hawaiians to travel to so there are often cheap fares).  On our 2012 Thanksgiving trip our cheapest airfares were on Delta out of LA, so you never know the outcome as the airfares are very dynamic.
  4. Then use a low-cost airline like Southwest Airlines or Frontier Airlines to connect to your Hawaiian flight.  Sure you have to fly multiple airlines, which can be a hassle, but the money saved will be worth it.  In fact sometimes it is cheaper to fly to Honolulu and then take either a local Hawaiian or Go airline (Hawaii’s low-cost airline) flight inter-island.  We used that strategy to visit 3 different islands a few years back.
The results are usually worth the research since for this trip I am going to save over $700 on my flight alone over booking on the United Team in Training flight going from Denver through Los Angeles.  This savings will give me a lot more money for stand-up paddle boarding, scuba diving with manta rays, and other things I enjoy on the Big Island.  I will talk more about those activities in future posts now that the “getting there” step is out of the way.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Continued Resolutions

Today marks the first weekend of 2013 and like many others I have made a few New Year’s Resolutions.  However, if you have read my past posts on this topic (, and, I really don’t make new resolutions, but simply re-pledge to continued resolutions.  This year I am going to do the same, but maybe with a little more updating.  So my five resolutions can be summarized as:

1.     Write
2.     Get in the Best Shape of My Life
3.     Give Back
4.     Live Aloha
5.     Chase Dreams

How did I do in 2012?

Writing can be judged by how many times I have posted to this blog.  In 2011 I posted about 2.5 times per month while in 2012 that shrank to 1.5 times per month so we are headed in the wrong direction.  Both averages are well below my goal of once per week or 4 times per month.  So I am going to change “write” to “write more.”

For “Get in the Best Shape of My Life” I have a few measures for 2012 that are positive.  I ran my fastest 10K and 5K since I started tracking those times in 2007.  I also won the Above and Beyond Award (with a prize of a free airlines ticket on Southwest Airlines) in the Red Rocks Fitness Challenge so I did pretty well there.  But that means I only want to go faster this year.  So with 5Ks, 10Ks, and getting back into triathlons again with Olympic and Spring distances being on this year’s possible event list, I want to see if I can continue to set personal records in these events. So let’s change this one to “Go Faster.”

“Give Back” was a little less tangible in 2012 since I didn’t fundraise for charity as I had done before, but I still looked for ways to serve in all aspects of my life.  In fact I feel the more that I have learned to “serve” rather than compete, as I have done in the past, it has made me a better person.  This third resolution will be modified to “Serve.”

“Live Aloha” was once again directly realized with a family vacation to Maui over Thanksgiving.  But like I have said before, this is more than simply leaving the mainland every year and more about trying to bring some of the Hawaiian values home of being friendly and focused on family.  Since it is family that is most important aspect of this resolution I am going to change this to “Ohana”, which is the Hawaiian word for family.

“Chase Dreams” is emblematic of my work on the Dream Chaser team to build a new human spacecraft for our country.  This year we are going to have a crucial approach and landing test and start work on landing our next large contract from NASA. I am going to modify this resolution to be “Land Dreams.”

So with my new set in hand:

1.     Write More
2.     Go Faster
3.     Serve
4.     Ohana
5.     Land Dreams

I am ready to plow into 2013.  With that in mind, I am going to follow up this morning’s run with a bike ride so I can work on going faster.