At the end of July my beautiful wife and I went to Maui and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. It was a fantastic trip, but looking back on it I think we missed many opportunities to save money along the way. It was our first trip since we had kids. This probably caused me to throw caution into the wind a bit when it came to costs, but here are a few things we did to avoid exorbitant costs while on the island.
Avoid Eating Meals at the Resort or Tourist Areas
That is, unless you are eating food you are preparing yourself in your hotel room. We ate breakfast one day at the hotel and it came out to be nearly $70. Most things are more expensive in Hawaii, but they are way more expensive in tourist areas or hotels. Eating out at a fancy tourist restaurant can be an enjoyable, expensive indulgence – just don’t make them routine.
Go to Wal-Mart
Just the place everyone wants to go on their vacation, right? Sounds silly, but heading to Wal-Mart can save you a ton of money on your vacation. We did go to Wal-Mart. There we bought bread, peanut butter, honey, a few cheap pieces of silverware, and some candy. For around $20, we were able to make a bunch of meals. This saved time and money. Wal-Mart also had souvenirs far cheaper than the hotel or other tourist shops. We saved $5 on a bag of coffee, nearly cutting its cost in two.
Rent Your Car with Your American Express Card
This will save you around $10 a day for the insurance coverage since American Express cards offer car insurance protection as a benefit of their card membership. We actually counted this savings as money earned and used it to pay for a convertible rental. This was my first time driving a convertible, and we had a blast with it. If you go on the Road to Hana, I recommend having a convertible so you can take in the panoramic mountain views easier.
Go to Walgreens
Walgreens is more expensive than Wal-Mart, but it is still far cheaper than the hotel stores and tourist area stores. When we wanted to buy some inner-tubes to use in the ocean, we saved $32 buy purchasing $4 inner-tubes at Walgreens vs. the $20 a piece choices at the hotel. Saving $32 for 30 minutes of time seems like a deal. Walgreens on Maui also had snorkel options and beach/swimming shoes so you didn’t have to worry about your feet hitting the rocks in the surf.
Go to Starbucks
What you say? How can this yokel suggest he is trying to save us money by recommending we go to Starbucks? Simple – Starbucks is fancy-pants coffee, but it is cheaper than the fancy-pants coffee you find in the touristy areas. Their costs are extremely close when compared to Starbucks located on the mainland, only $0.14 more expensive. The cost of a fancy-pants coffee at the hotel? $6.95/cup! Yuck. That’s a $4 premium.
I’m not a big Yelp user, but it is extremely effective when you’re vacationing and want to find a place to eat. We found a delicious Italian food restaurant that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. I probably won’t use Yelp again until our next vacation, but it is a good resource to use for those days you find yourself outside of your normal area and need to find something to eat.