TIPS: How I Budgeted for Hawaii

I had a New Year’s resolution of posting at least one blog entry a month in 2018. I obviously failed for the past 2 months.


At least I have a trip to tell you about!

Budget: $2000 CAD

Length of trip: 11 days, 10 nights

Islands visited: Oahu and Maui (Oahu is where Honolulu is, FYI to those who are geographically challenged haha).

I’ll keep it plain and simple. 🙂

  1. Plan ahead. This way, you can buy flights early. I don’t mean plan every step of every day, but just plan ahead. Creating a general itinerary helps you get an idea of how many days to spend on each island. Doing this requires some research – make sure you check opening hours, off seasons, etc. I like to map everything out on google maps and group days by geographical section. When in doubt, I’d go with more days (vs. fewer days) to make room for jetlag, random tiredness, roadblocks, and strangers along the way.
  2. Exchange $ with friends. I have friends in the US who need CAD, and I am a Canadian who needs USD. Exchanging $$ with them means win-win situation all around. Avoid the bank fees and save that money for all the delicious food you’re going to eat!
  3. Communicate. My friend and I did a pretty decent job despite our crazy distance (Australia vs. Toronto = impossible to chat real time). We created a document on Dropbox Paper (similar to Google Doc) and created a chart, added links, comments, photos, etc. and I organized it. Communication is important because it helps you both get the most out of your trip – but it also helps you save money. I think because this was a pretty spontaneous/impulsive trip for us, I had bought flights prior to sufficient planning, and probably could have saved $100+. That being said, the regular planning/communication we were able to do with the doc saved us a lot of time and money 🙂
  4. Couchsurf. We Couchsurfed in Oahu and did hostels/Airbnbs in Maui. Maui is the more expensive place, so if you can help it, try to Couchsurf there too haha. We waited too long and none of the convenient locations were available for us. Couchsurfing is great for saving money but mostly for getting to know locals who know the best places to eat and will show you a great time!
  5. Go local. This means ask locals what’s the best way to do things. We were going to go with a $400+ car rental for 4 days, when we were told about Hele Maui, a local car rental company for $150 (+ extra fees led to about $250 but still so cheap).
  6. Prioritize. What do you care the most about when it comes to travelling? Convenience and comfort? Private rooms? Hotels? Food? Commute? If it’s all of the above, you’re not going to save much $$. I prioritize food and a moderate level of comfort. A bed is just a bed to me, so I’d be okay with sleeping in a mediocre hostel if it saves money (unfortunately this option was unavailable in Maui by the time we got around to booking shelter). Transportation just means get me from point A to point B efficiently; doesn’t need to be fancy. I guess in general, I’d say I value practicality and efficiency, and then also food. I will not save money when it comes to food.

Overall, I had a perfect trip. Everything was convenient, practical, and fun. The great thing about Hawaii is that most of the nature activities were free! So you only have to pay for organized activities and very few park entrances.

I’ll write more about what I actually did in Hawaii another time! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

2 thoughts on “TIPS: How I Budgeted for Hawaii

  1. Good article. Did you end up spending 2k though? Also have you tried transferwise? It’s how I move money between the USA and Canada. It’s like trading money but on a bigger scale. Great for traveling.


    1. I spent a little under 2k! And yes I’ve heard of TransferWise but it’s still not better than the market rate right ?? I’ll use it for countries where my friends don’t have the currency haha. Thanks for your suggestion!


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