Planning a trip to somewhere scenic and blissful as Hawaii is all fun and games until you have to sit down and talk logistics. Where should you stay? Which islands should you visit? How many activities can you do in one day? How do you maximize your trip without spending too much?
Before you start stressing out about all the little details, relax and take a deep breath. That’s what we’re here for. Planning a Hawaii vacation can take up a lot of time, but it’s a fun activity. Here are simple steps to help you get started on planning a life-changing trip to paradise.
Plan Months in Advance
It’s easy to think that you can just hop on a plane to Hawaii without planning it down to the minor details. However, a spontaneous trip can quickly turn sour if you get caught in one of the busy seasons, spanning from December to April. Most of the flights and hotels will be booked by then, and if you’re lucky to get a condo, you’re most likely getting a raised price.
Hawaii also has specific seasons for its variety of attractions. For example, the peak whale watching season at Maui is during the whale migration, which happens around January to March.
Planning months in advance will let you pick which flights to take, where to stay in Hawaii, and what to fill your itinerary with. This will also make sure that you’re scheduling around other important and non-negotiable commitments.
Set a Budget
The best thing about planning a trip is that you’re making sure you don’t end up completely broke after. When planning a vacation, you should list down every aspect involved so you can set allocations. If you start early enough, you can save up on more by chancing upon special discounts and promos.
For example, you can first write down the most important categories: flights, hotels or condos, car to rent, and food for each day. Next, calculate the average spending of one person per day, then multiply it with the number of days you plan to stay. If you’re taking the trip with other people, multiply that cost by the number of people. That should give you an adjustable estimate for your budget.
You can cut the costs down by setting a limit where you can. For example, you can buy stuff at grocery stores and make your own meals and snacks during the day and wait until dinner or your last day to eat at a fancy restaurant. You can also check out budget-friendly vacation rentals instead of hotels because you’ll want to spend most of your days outside anyway. Maui and Big Island have several oceanfront vacation rentals that you can look into, and you’ll have several options if you’re taking a trip by yourself, with your friends, or with your family.
Next, allocate a portion for your itinerary. You’ll be spending registration fees and rental fees for certain activities, so you can also check if the prices are available online. Lastly, if you have more to spare, you can set aside an amount for gifts and souvenirs.
Make an Itinerary
You’ll also want to make an itinerary for each day you’re there. This doesn’t need to be highly detailed, just enough so you can make a rough estimate of how much you’re spending that day. There are plenty of free experiences on the islands to enjoy, such as hiking, relaxing on the beach, and visiting historic sites and botanical gardens. You can also snorkel for free, provided you bring your own gear or some vacation rentals also provide beach gear. Prices may vary per resort or location, but if you’ve decided where to stay by now, you can look up their prices online or reach out with an email and ask for their rates.
It’s recommended to do only one major activity such as whale watching or a helicopter tour per day and fill the rest of the day by lounging at the beach, walking around commercial centers, and doing communal activities with the locals. If you do enough research, you might come across local events and celebrations that you can join so you can get a feel for the community.
Learn About the Hawaiian Islands Before You Come
It’s highly encouraging to read up a bit on Hawaii before your trip so you can appreciate it more. Learning the names and geography of each of the major islands can be helpful if you ask the locals for directions, especially since they have their own ways of describing coast sides and heading towards the mountains or the ocean.
Reading up on the history of the islands will also help you appreciate each location more. This is an absolute must, especially if you plan to visit historical sites. It can’t hurt to have some extra knowledge about new places and have some conversation starters with the locals up your sleeves.
Finally, make sure to learn a few general words and phrases before arriving in Hawaii. “Aloha” and “Mahalo,” which mean “hello/goodbye” and “thank you,” respectively, are easy to remember. Both words evoke a distinctly Hawaiian way of looking at the world, and taking the time to learn and understand their language is the best way of immersing yourself in island life.
What Not to Bring
Unless you want to violate banned products or want to stick out like a sore thumb, there are several things that you should avoid bringing on your trip. For one, this corresponds with the wardrobe you’re bringing for your trip. It’s best to keep it loose, casual, flowy, and breathable, so think linens, cotton, shorts, and sundresses. You’ll also want to bring comfortable shoes that will do well in the sand, such as flip-flops, hiking shoes, and a comfortable pair of sandals.
You’ll also want to stick to the general rules regarding what to take with you during a trip. Avoid big bulky beach toys as there are plenty of rental places or buy them when you get here and avoid carrying too many valuables. Don’t bring lots of cash, either, because most places accept debit and credit cards.
Another essential companion is sunblock to avoid sunburn. However, Hawaii takes its sea life protection seriously, so make sure your sunscreen is reef-safe, meaning it shouldn’t contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These two ingredients contribute to coral bleaching and reef destruction. Some brands are incredibly toxic, so pay attention to the brands and components that can both protect your skin and preserve marine life.
Planning a trip to Hawaii doesn’t have to be stressful. Getting the nitty-gritty details down months in advance will save you several headaches from a spontaneous trip that will probably wipe out your term savings. Doing your research about the islands, looking up the activities, and making a preliminary itinerary will also help you get a feel of the place even before setting foot in the islands. Whether you’re making an itinerary planned down to the hour or making a general guide for your trip, it’s best to equip yourself with the basics of planning to save time, money, and energy.