One of the best parts of our travel experiences is always coming home with very small credit card bills from traveling. Of course, we’re able to do this by using airline miles and hotel points to cover those expenses. So, in order to give you incentive to sign up for credit cards to garner hundreds of thousands of miles or hotel points, I’m providing a breakdown of our out of pocket expenses below. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!
4 One Way Flights from Boston to LA to Kauai: 0 Miles (this was a continuation of our return flight from London in May). A flight from London to Boston is 20,000 (80,000 for 4) American Airlines miles. A flight from London to Boston (stopover) to Kauai is also 20,000 AA miles. The taxes for the Boston to LA to Kauai portion were $10 each for a total of $40.
3 (for the short flight, 20 month old daughter was a lap child) One Way Flights from Kauai to Honolulu: We used 20,517 (for 3 tickets) Citibank Thank You points and $0 which we got for signing up for Citibank’s Thank You Premier card. While this card doesn’t give you miles that transfer into airline programs, it does offer you a way to “pay” for airfare. Each point is worth $1.333 so they are pretty good to use on inexpensive tickets that would be “expensive,” relatively speaking, to redeem miles for.
2 One way Flights from Honolulu to Portland: 40,000 United miles and $10
2 One way First Class flights from Honolulu to Newark: 0 miles and $10. This one requires a little explanation. We are going to Dubai this fall. Flights from New York to Dubai are 120,000 miles in business class and flights from Honolulu to Dubai are 120,000 miles in business class. Given that it’s the same amount of miles, we just tacked on the Honolulu to Newark portion for $10 with no additional miles required. We will account for the 120,000 miles when we tally up our Dubai expenditures. We connected in Newark because Newark and JFK are co-terminals and therefore, Newark was a valid stopover point for our fall trip.
1 (for the short flight, 20 month old daughter was a lap child) One way flight from Newark to Portland: $271.90 of which I only paid $46.90 due to $225 voucher I received from United when they messed up our St. John, USVI tickets last year.
So, in total, our family of 4 flew from Boston to Kauai to Honolulu to Portland for:
0 AA Miles & $40
20,517 Citibank Thank You Points
40,000 United Miles & $20
$225 United Voucher & $46.90
There are a couple more things I’d like to add with regards to our flights. We had lounge access in Boston on our way to Kauai and in Honolulu on our return home due to the lounge passes we received from signing up for the AA and United credit cards. We also would have gone to the lounge in LA if we had had the time. While these lounges are nothing special, especially compared to international lounges, they did provide a quiet respite with snacks and drinks to enjoy while waiting for our flights! Secondly, we checked three bags for our family and there were no baggage fees given that we had the AA and United credit cards. That saved us $75 each way.
Our trip to Hawaii included a stop on the way there in Los Angeles. We spent one night at the Four Points by Sheraton at the airport which was nothing special but did the job. The shuttle took us about 10 minutes to get there (once we got picked up) and we’d definitely schedule a stop there on a long trip again. One thing we learned was that flying at night with the kids was awesome because they slept most of the flight. And breaking up the trip was great too. We’ll definitely try to fly at night and/or break up trips for long haul flights in the future. This hotel was 3,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points.
All of our eight nights in Kauai were spent at the Grand Hyatt. We received 4 nights in a suite due to both my husband and I utilizing the Hyatt Diamond Status Trial at the time that we applied for the Hyatt credit card. Diamonds who apply and are approved for the Hyatt credit card get their two free nights in a suite and Kauai was a great place to use those. The subsequent 2 nights were paid for using my sister’s 2 free nights in a regular room that she got for signing up for the Hyatt credit card. Technically, she is supposed to be there to use the nights, but we did not face any issues. Our last two nights were paid for using Priceline. During the low season, Priceline is a great tool for competitive rates at the Grand Hyatt. We paid $491.04 for those last two nights ($245.52 per night, including taxes) which was much better than what the Hyatt was offering directly (over $400 per night).
So, our total out of pocket costs for 9 nights of hotel stays was: $491.04
There is no doubt, renting a car in Kauai (and all of Hawaii, for that matter) is extremely expensive. Last time we were there in 2008, we got a great deal using Priceline. I think those days of discount rentals are difficult to come by as I believe rental car companies decreased their fleets considerably during the recession. However, my sister turned me on to a company called Discount Hawaii Car Rental which found us a great rate at Alamo. After receiving the Alamo confirmation, I asked them to look at Avis. If you recall, we had trouble with declining car insurance in Scotland with Avis. After complaining, Avis sent me $75 worth of vouchers towards our next rental. Discount Hawaii Car Rental found a rate slightly more expensive, but we’d get to use our vouchers so we ended up renting with Avis. This company simply finds you a rental through a known car rental agency and sends you the confirmation. So, your reservation is through the car rental company, not DHCR. And the service is free! In the end, after our vouchers, we paid $198.07 for an 8 day car rental on Kauai.
There is no doubt about it. Hawaii is very expensive compared with home. You have to get adjusted to that fact before shopping for anything so as to avoid in-store distress. We had one in our party that had issues with that, but once you get used to the fact that food is much more expensive, you plow forward, especially when you realize how much you’ve saved elsewhere. I would estimate that we spent about $600 on food between the grocery store and eating out. This amount is less than it would have been due to the $100 voucher we received at the Hyatt. When we checked out, we were left with a credit on our bill of $1.92 so we couldn’t have planned that out much better. I’m still gathering the numbers and will update our food/miscellaneous total once we have that information together.
So, in total, our out of pocket costs for our vacation to Kauai for our family of four was:
Airfare: $40+$10+$10+$46.90 = $106.90
Rental Car: $198.07
I hope that this post helps illustrate that signing up for credit cards (none of the credit cards used to make this trip a reality had an annual fee for the first year) and strategically planning vacations can allow a family of four to enjoy an 8 night trip to Hawaii for under $1200 total. Please feel to ask any questions as I love helping others make their travel dreams a reality!