How a Family of 4 Can Visit Hawaii for $1,000 or Less

By Holly Johnson on 17 September 2018 0 comments

Hawaii is a bucket list destination for many families, and for good reason. The islands that make up Hawaii boast spectacular mountain landscapes, unbeatable beaches, tropical and lush greenery, and a culture all their own. Hawaii is also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with world class surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, and golf readily available throughout the islands. And despite the devastation wreaked by Mt. Kilauea on the Big Island recently, you can still climb to the top of Mt. Haleakala in Maui, which is far from the danger of Kilauea. In fact, there are even many safe areas of the Big Island that also offer some great deals. (See also: Yes, It's Still Safe to Visit Hawaii During the Volcanic Eruption)

Even though Hawaii is a destination that boasts many repeat visitors, there are a few factors that tend to keep some families away — costs and travel time. While there's nothing you can do about the fact that you'll need to fly to the West Coast, and then take another five to six hour flight to Hawaii, you can take some steps to reduce or eliminate at least some of the costs associated with your trip. Here's how a family of four can get to Hawaii for $1,000 or less.

Flying to Hawaii with airline miles

Before you get into the nitty-gritty details of your trip, you need to spend some time figuring out which Hawaiian island(s) you want to visit. Your costs — in both cash and miles — can drop dramatically if you decide to visit only one island during your stay. However, you can also fly into one island, take a short flight to another island halfway through your trip, then fly home from your final island destination. How you choose to plan your itinerary is up to you. (See also: Cut These 9 Expenses in One Year to Get a 10-Day Hawaii Vacation)

There are numerous ways to get to Hawaii with airline miles, but here are a few of the most popular options:

  • Korean Air: 25,000 to 30,000 miles round-trip in economy, depending on the partner you fly with — Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, or Alaska Airlines.

  • Air France/Flying Blue: 30,000 miles round-trip in economy

  • American AAdvantage: 40,000 miles round-trip in economy

There are other airlines that let you fly to Hawaii with rewards, including Singapore Airlines and British Airways. Southwest Airlines has also announced its intention to offer flights from some California cities to Honolulu (Oahu), Kahului, (Maui), Kona (Big Island), and Lihue (Kauai) in the near future. They're planning on offering inter-island service, too, so keep an eye out for those program details.

Considering the options available today, any family would be smart to focus on earning rewards with a flexible travel credit card. Some cards allow you to use points to book travel through any website and get a statement credit to pay for it, while others offer big discounts and rewards for booking through their travel portal. Many of these cards also offer point transfers to their airline and hotel partners so you can pool your loyalty points together. (See also: This Might Be the Best Travel Rewards Program — No Matter What Airline You Fly)

If a family could rack up 100,000 rewards points in sign-up bonuses and some additional points through regular spend, they could book four round-trip flights to Hawaii with one of these airlines. The best part about flying to Hawaii with miles is that, because it's a domestic destination, you won't see the big fuel surcharges often levied on international. Instead, you'll pay the government-mandated taxes and fees levied on domestic flights, which works out to $5.60 per person, per leg.

Paying for lodging in Hawaii

If you rack up enough airline miles and pay the taxes and fees for each leg, a family of four visiting a single island could wind up spending less than $50 on flights.

But what about hotels?

The good news about lodging in Hawaii is that while it's an expensive destination to visit, there are plenty of hotels and resorts you can book with hotel points.

The Hilton Honors program is an especially good option for Hawaii since there are so many properties to choose from. Not all of them are overly expensive in points, either. Some of the most popular and affordable hotels to book in Hawaii are:

  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Alana, Waikiki Beach with as few as 47,000 points per night.

  • Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach with as few as 50,000 points per night.

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort with as few as 60,000 points per night.

  • Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay with as few as 45,000 points per night.

  • Hilton Waikoloa Village with as few as 60,000 points per night.

  • Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria resort with as few as 95,000 points per night.

If a family was able to rack up 200,000+ Hilton Honors points by signing up for co-branded Hilton credit cards, they could potentially book five nights for free at some of these properties. That's because Hilton Silver, Gold, and Diamond members can score a free fifth night when they book four consecutive nights with rewards points.

In addition to the Hilton Honors programs, some of the other big hotel brands boast hotels you can book in Hawaii with points. Here are some of the most notable options:

World of Hyatt:

  • Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach: 12,000 points per night

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa: 25,000 points per night

IHG Rewards:

  • Holiday Inn Express Waikiki: 35,000 points per night

  • Holiday Inn Express and Suites Kailua-Kona: 40,000 points per night

Marriott Rewards:

  • Mauna Kea Beach Ho 45,000 points per night

  • Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa: 40,000 points per night

(See also: 8 Amazing Hawaiian Resorts You Can Book With Rewards Points)

Also keep in mind that you don't have to use rewards to book a stay at a fancy resort. There are notable downsides for doing so, including the fact that resorts tend to charge sky-high prices on everything from souvenirs to food and drink. As a guest of a resort or name-brand hotel, you may be forced to spend more on basics since you're a captive audience.

If you're worried about overspending on food and extras at a resort, you should consider booking a rental condo for all or part of your trip. With this strategy, you could potentially have a little more space — and even a separate bedroom for the kids. You could also book a condo with a kitchen, then plan out some meals to make at home to save even more. At the very least, it's fairly easy to buy ingredients for morning coffee and breakfast so you can avoid one meal out each day.

To get your condo covered with rewards, you'll want to sign up for a flexible travel credit card or cash-back credit card. Both of these options will let you use points to book a condo or hotel with a kitchenette using rewards, letting you save even more. (See also: Best Credit Cards with Easy Travel Redemption)

If you could pay less than $50 for your flights, cover lodging with hotel points and flexible travel credit, and keep your food and adventure spending in check, you could easily take part in a Hawaiian vacation for $1,000 — or even less depending on how much you spend on food and fun. If you're aching to visit Hawaii's famous beaches, hike up a volcano, or enjoy a luau with the family, the best time to start planning is now.

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