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.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the travel tips. Sally shared with me how you dodged the high tickets by traveling midweek. I am always interested to find out how families travel to places like Hawaii on the cheap.


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