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Dust settles, and lessons are learned. September 24, 2006

Posted by J.P. in Travel.

After several evenings of frantic internet searching, every detail of our hawaii itinerary is finally planned out. We have tried our best to get the best bang for our buck, and learned our lessons and tricks.

Lesson 1:

Do not go to Hawaii in the winter. You would think summer is the peak season for beach resorts. Wrong! The peak season of Hawaii is the time when everywhere else is bitterly cold. Not until we booked our flight and started looking for lodging, did we realize how expensive this trip will be.

Lesson 2:

Do not count on your airline mileage, unless you know there is no blackout date or any other kind of restriction what so ever. We have planned to have two free flight tickets using the 70,000 mile Delta SkyMiles that we have diligently saved. It turned out the 25,000-point SkySaver tickets were so scarce and well booked out a year ago. To have unrestricted SkyChoice tickets, we need to use 50,000 points for each ticket. We end up having only one free ticket and flying separately.

Nevertheless, we also discovered a couple of tricks to squeeze a couple of nichles out of our pockets.

First, it is relatively cheaper to stay in B&B or rental apartment in stead of hotel. Of course it probably be right on the Waikiki beach. But you got to spend the whole day on it, why not have a nicer place to rest during the night. The apartments are usually bigger than hotel rooms and have kichen, which you don’t have to spend money eating out everyday. Plus, you will have a better taste of local flavor. This website is a good place to look for apartment vacation rental around the world. We also use it plan for our Europe trip in next year.

For our stay in Oahu, we really like Paradise Palm B&B ($85/night). Unfortunately it is all booked out. But the hosts kindly recommended several other places: ALI’I BLUFFS , BEACH LANE B&B , J & B’S HAVEN, THE MANOA VALLEY INN, MANU MELE B&B, MARIANNE’S B&B, and PILLOWS IN PARADISE. We eventually booked at MARIANNE’S B&B, which costs $75 per night. On the Big Island, we will stay in a cozy cottage at Garden Villa in Hilo ($80/night).

We stumble on the second trick when we are looking for rental car. For some reason, if you go to Avis website via the link on Island Air, you may be able score a deep discount. Our 5-day rental on a compact car only cost about $120, while all other websites ask for at least $200. It seems, when you use that particular link, a Avis worldwide discount code “D802300” and a travel agent only ARC/ATIA number “0182383G” are automatically filled into the reservation form. I suspect this is rather a bug on their website, and they probably will fix it once more people know about this secret. So you milage might vary. Use it while it lasts.



1. MM - September 26, 2006

For Hawaii, the skysaver asks for 35,000 mileage (that is usually the number most of the airlines ask for between the 50 states and Hawaii). So for the Skychoice ticket, we forked over a good 75,000 mileage.

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